Design

Upper Volta

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Back in the studio last week shooting some new images for Upper Volta’s latest collection. After the success of the fashion show a few weeks ago, I teamed up with the ever talented Francis Kwamee to capture some stills of the garments.

We had a huge team of models, but the shoot ran really smoothly and quickly. Everyone was eating croissants and drinking coffee and having a great time. Kind of like a gathering except that we also happened to be shooting on the side- haha what a great chilled vibe!

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There are some gorgeous garments in this collection, and the team of models really brought them to life!

Some behind the scenes shenanigans. There’s me on the floor as per usual…

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Keep your eyes peeled for these images, they are going to be a great way to really launch UpperVolta’s new range.

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What a productive day I had! I’m so tired, but I really want to share today’s pictures with you all before I curl up under my futon and sleep for 24 hours.

When I woke up today I had nothing planned, except to meet up with my Japanese sister Chihiro for dinner. Whilst I debated getting out of bed, I looked at my constantly growing list of galleries that I want to visit, and picked a few that were close to where we would have dinner. I also booked a flight home to Melbourne. For those of you wishing to join the fanfare and parade, I will be arriving home on April 11 at 4:30pm. I want streamers and confetti people!

I had planned to go to the Advertising Museum today, but when I was reading about some of the art galleries in Roppongi, I noticed a few had exhibitions that finished today. So in a split decision, I decided to spend the day in Roppongi.

I made a list of galleries to visit, and drew myself a dodgy map on the back of a Lawson’s receipt. Then off I went into the sunshine. It was actually warm today, so much so that I could walk around with my big coat unzipped!

My first stop was the Fujifilm Square gallery, which was showing the work of Japanese film photographer, Yoshio Watanabe. The series, titled The Beauty of Japan- Ise Jingu, depicted Ise shrine from different angles, in stunning black and white prints. The tones were incredible, and some of the compositions were beautiful. It was a very small exhibition, but worth seeing. Below are a few images from the internet, which don’t do the work justice.

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I also saw a group exhibition of Japenese landscape photography. These images were mounted on woodblocks, and some were absolutely massive. There was one in particular that depicted clouds and a lake that was about 3 metres long. It was mesmerising looking into it, and the sheer scale of the work was impressive. My top three artists from that collection were Matsuda Yoshio, Miyamoto Hiroshi, and Kurihara Hidenobu. Google them. (As is traditional in Japan, I have put the surnames of each artist first.)

There was also a mini museum about the history of Fuji Film and Fuji cameras, that had the biggest and most diverse collection of cameras I have ever seen. I think they had every camera ever made by Fuji. Some of the older film cameras were insanely big, and looked almost comical. I wondered how anyone could even hold them up to take a photo.

Next I headed into the Tokyo Midtown building, and wondered around inside for a while, hunting for excitement. I was’t sure which gallery to head into next, and I had seen an advertisement for an exhibition on one of the shop walls. The exhibition was called “Naturally I Expect A Lot From You,” by Hiroko Ichihara. I walked around for ages looking for the gallery that housed this exhibition, before realising that it was actually on the walls of the shopping mall! The exhibition consisted of a series of installations of giant sentences, which were applied directly onto the walls. They were huge, and very bold. I loved them! The exhibition spanned over 4 levels, and it was really interesting to watch people’s reactions to each one.

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The above images read;

1) “As long as I have you, the world is heaven.”
2) “I could tell you the truth.”
3) “Let’s start over again. The two of us.”
4) “When it happens, it happens.”

Next to number four is a picture of bread from a bakery that smelt like heaven.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext, I headed outside, past the man-made ice-skating rink to 21_21 Design Site, which was housing an exhibition called Design Ah! This has been advertised everywhere, so I thought I’d better go and see it before they kicked me out of the country for being unpatriotic (or something.)

The ‘logo’ for the exhibition is the Japanese hiragana character, あ ( pronounced ‘ah,’ not ‘ahhh.’) This little guy featured heavily inside the building. The exhibition was a really hands on one, where guests were constantly invited to touch, play and investigate the artworks. Most things were interactive, and there were only a few ‘don’t touch’ signs around. Entry for one adult was ¥1000.

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Upon entry, there was an interactive projection, which allowed you to control a large あ with your body. When you moved, the あ moved too, mimicking the body’s shape. It even morphed into two あs when two people entered the designated area.

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Next was the most incredible sound and light display I have ever seen. A huge room with just a table in the centre was transformed by synchronised sound and light projections. It’s really hard to explain what happened, which is why I took a video of the place. I don’t know how to upload that, so you’ll have to wait until I work it out to see. But basically, all four walls became projection surfaces, and as  a colour or a shape or a number was being ‘sung’ about, spotlights highlighted the corresponding items on the table in the centre. For example, when the sound was singing about ‘blue,’ the walls showed giant pictures of blue things, and the blue things on the table (like the bucket and the world globe, for example) were lit up. I think the more I try to explain, the more confusing I become. I’ll get onto that video asap…

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Other interactive parts were origami and furoshiki folding and sushi making (mostly for kids, as the sushi was made out of cute wooden blocks. A little girl made me some sushi to ‘eat.’) There was also ipad sketching and coin rubbing, as well as lots of deconstruction exhibits, which showed what books or sushi or an array of other items might look if they were deconstructed and arranged in a design-ey manner.

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Above is a ‘demo’ of what packaging might look like in the future. The penguins on the packet moved around, like a little movie. They marched all over the place. Imagine that in the future! Then, for the photography buffs, there was a timelapse of the giant grass-covered あ, which changed daily as the plants grew (there’s a picture of this somewhere above.) Below is a reflection of me in the window. How very artistic and contemporary of me, ne?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was quite hungry after all my exhibition interaction, so I grabbed a quick salad and onigiri from a Family Mart across the road. As I was heading back to the park to find a place to eat, a Japanese man approached me and started talking to me. He obviously wanted to practice his English, and it’s pretty common for Japanese people to latch onto foreigners for some free English conversational practice. He asked what I was doing today, and if he could sit with me while I had lunch. He seemed genuinely nice and not creepy, so I said ok. He was actually pretty interesting, and we talked about all kind of things- mostly differences between Australia and Japan. After I’d finished lunch, he asked if I wanted to go to Mos Burger to eat more. I was full already, but said I’d go with him if he was hungry. I didn’t want to be rude, and I didn’t know how to politely decline without being direct (because of the language barrier.) So we went to Mos Burger and the man ate his burger and chips. Then I said I had to go meet my friend for dinner (even though it was only 3pm), so we walked to the station. The man had no commitments, and was really keen to talk, so I couldn’t get away easily. Then he wanted to take me to a photographic bookstore nearby. I agreed, again not wanting to be blunt or impolite. So we ended up in this bookstore that was actually awesome. So much art and photography and design! I’d been having trouble finding books on those topics until today. Whilst I was browsing, the man said he had to go to the bathroom, but he’d be right back. I almost felt like ditching him, but he was genuinely nice and I felt too guilty. So we looked in the bookstore for a while, then I said I really had to go. I wanted to go to a few more galleries before dinner, but I wanted to go myself and see the works in my own time. I knew this would be hard to explain, and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. So I said I’d walk to the next station and catch the subway from there. He insisted on walking me there, despite my multiple renditions of “oh no, its ok, I don’t want to trouble you.”

So we got to the station. Luckily, he kept walking as I pretended to go down the stairs. I was worried he’d also catch the subway, and even more worried it would be on the same line as mine, because then I’d have to go on the train. I thought about just going back to the surface, but I was paranoid he’d be waiting there to make sure I got on the train safely, so I walked around underground for a while and came up at another exit. I must have looked so dodgy, snooping around and continuously looking over my shoulder, on the lookout for a man in a beige coat. I’m pretty sure I saw him a little further up the street, but I don’t know if he saw me. Darn red coat makes me stand out.

So then I walked all the way back to the main are of Roppongi, and hunted for two small galleries that had exhibits. First I went to Taka Ishii Gallery of Photography and Film, which was closed for curation. But right across from that was Ota Fine Arts. I think the building was more impressive than the tiny exhibition. I spend a whole 3 minutes in there. I did like one piece, but I have no idea who the artist is or what the work is called, because there were no identification tags or brochures in the gallery. The work is below.

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Next door from the Ota Fine Art gallery was the Wako Works of Art gallery, which was showing Reanimation by Joan Jonas. This consisted of some abstract paintings, huge projections, and this strange but mesmerising hanging crystal sculpture.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA It was past 4:30 by the time I had finished looking in those small galleries, and I didn’t think I’d have time to visit the large group exhibition at the National Art Centre. But I thought it was the last day today, so I rushed over to see if I could still make it in time for the last admission.

When I got there, I found out that the exhibition I wanted to see ran until April, so I could come back another day and give myself enough time to see it properly. I did go into an incredibly large exhibition of recent graduate work from 5 art universities in Tokyo. There was some incredible works in there, and I didn’t get to see everything, so I will definitely go back and have another look when I have time. I had to do a rush job because I needed to get to Shiokanedai to meet Chihiro. I took a few snaps of some of the pieces I liked…

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChihiro was there with her American boyfriend and two Japanese friends, one who I had met before. They had a present for me! We walked along to a restaurant that was draped in tiny fairy lights, and Chihiro led us inside. It was an Italian bistro-style place, and would be the first non-Japanese meal I’d eaten since arriving in Japan. Chihiro ordered a salad for us to share and a starter, then we all ordered pasta or pizza as a main. I chose a chilli and tomato pasta, with ‘toppings’ of eggplant and spinach. The salad came first, and it was delicious. There’s something about the salad dressing in Japan that I love- I can’t find the taste anywhere else. It was a crab and avocado salad, and was so fresh.

The mains arrived soon after, and the waiter shaved parmesan cheese onto our meals. Mine was delicious. If pasta tasted like that in Australia, I would actually enjoy it. I don’t like pasta back home; I think it’s boring. But this was really good! I didn’t realize how hungry I was, because I ate the whole thing, and it was pretty big.

For dessert, we shared an apple pie and a marscapone cheesecake. It was so tasty! There was some raspberry sauce to go with it, which matched really well. And the cheesecake wasn’t too sweet and sickly, it was just perfect. Everyone was really funny, and we had a great time discussing Disney films, differences between American and Australian English, and other subjects that made everyone laugh.

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Then we all headed back to the station and caught our various modes of transport home. I opened my present on the way home from Tabata, and it was a big bag of popcorn- caramel flavour and a flavour that I think is supposed to be cheese. I ate some of the caramel on the way home and it is way too good! So moreish. When I actually got home, I felt like cereal, so I ate that as I flicked through today’s photos. It’s 1:30am now, and I thought about going to bed earlier, but the people in the apartment above me are being really loud and banging the furniture around- I think they are re-arranging the whole room. They also have really loud voices, so I know getting to sleep is going to be a pain. But I’ve got the Hina Matsuri festival at Saiseikai tomorrow, so I’ll have to sleep sometime.

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