Takahiro Iwasaki Constructs Elaborate Landscapes From Cloth, Dust, And Human Hair

Takahiro Iwasaki - Cloth, fibers, dust, human hair

Takahiro Iwasaki - Cloth, fibers, dust, human hair

Takahiro Iwasaki - Cloth, fibers, dust, human hair

Artist Takahiro Iwasaki is a master when it comes to constructing elaborate, miniature landscapes. However, these small-scale scenes are not formed from Lego’s, but from much more unlikely and unstable items such as cloth fiber, dust, and human hair. This Japanese artist takes the most miniscule, seemingly insignificant materials and uses them to create something incredibly complex and enchanting. His newest installations, which are part of the series titled Out of Disorder, contain mini-scenes of recognizable landmarks such as Coney Island, ferris wheel and all. Inspired by painted landscapes on Japanese folding screens, Iwasaki comments on his work in relation to its inspiration.

“Just as the artist of the screens did, I would like to revisit a commonplace everyday scene from today’s Japan, and just as the screens embody a smooth flow from one season to the next, I hope to capture, in my work, the graceful transition of a Japanese landscape from past to present.”

Each tree, building, factory, and rollercoaster in Iwasaki’s work are brightly colored and fragile, as many of them are enclosed in a glass case. This glass reveals one of the most captivating elements of the landscapes; the layers of clothing that make up the earth in many of the installations. Each cloth is filled with diverse colors and clashing patterns, revealing a mishmash of layers that resemble section of sediment in the soil. They form the rolling hills and steep slopes that make up the miniature environments. However, not all of the artist’s creations are constructed from recycled cloth, but from toothbrushes, as well. Telephone towers sprout out of Iwasaki’s toothbrush bristles in this strange yet familiar installation. Out of Disorder is on display now at Takahiro Iwasaki’s first solo show Takahiro Iwasaki: In Focus at the Asian Society Museum in New York. (via Spoon & Tamago)

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Japanese Public Uses The Power Of Memes To Respond To ISIS Threats


Last Tuesday, the militant extremist group ISIS released a video threatening to kill two Japanese hostages, journalists Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa. They requested a $200 million ransom of which Japan refused to pay (Yukawa has said to have been killed). The Japanese public has responded to these threats by using Twitter to mock ISIS with Photoshopped memes. While this isn’t exactly art, elements of design, digital collage, and illustration are being used for political and social reasons. The images, viewable with the hashtag  #ISISクソコラグランプリ, translates to ISIS crappy collage grand prix. This popular tag presents exactly what it says – the terrorists, rudimentarily cut/pasted/drawn on, are seen in spaceships or cartoon characters. One image even features Mickey Mouse.

While the hashtag has received criticism from some, many see this parody as a way to react to the threat without bowing to terrorism. Peter Payne, owner of the online shop J-List, sums the hashtag up up by tweeting, “You can kill some of us, but Japan is a peaceful and happy land, with fast Internet. So go to hell.” (Via Dazed and Buzzfeed)

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How A T-shirt By OMOCAT Made Us Question Sex And Controversy In Art

Omocat Shota Shirt

Omocat Shota Shirt

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What’s in a word?  That’s what the prolific and internationally known Asian-American artist Omocat has been faced with lately.  In the midst of her recent “shota” t-shirt release (pictured here), the artist’s intentions have in instances been taken widely out of context.  Embraced by Japanese fans that understand the context, some others have used it as a brutal platform for Western backlash.  In this instance something got lost in translation between hemispheres, and it is increasingly important that we explore the context and origin of the Japanese word shota and, above all, what this illustrates about western views on sexuality and gender.

Omocat’s continuum of work includes illustration, comic-books, clothing and merch with her designs.  Her imagery and content is often based on shota (which loosely translates to mean “pretty boy”) or loli (an expansive style and sometimes fetish originating in Nabakov’s Lolita). All of these artistic expressions stem from Otaku, an umbrella term for the Japanese manga-centric subculture that also informs the work of artist Takashi Murakami.   It is important to note that Omocat is quite vocal and literal within the work on her feelings towards social justice and self-empowerment in gender and sexual identity, with a strong personal stance against bullying.  This is illustrated fully in her comic “Pretty Boy,” featured here.   Omocat is even working on a collaborative artistic effort against bullying set to launch later this fall.

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Ethereal Photos Of Fireflies In Motion Capture The Lyrical Quality Of Their Light

take3 take4 take6 take1Japanese photographer Takehito Miyatake’s images capture darkened compositions with illuminated trails of fireflies and forests. The ethereal works are lyrical in their treatment of light, and we see it dancing throughout fields, streams, and into the night sky. It captures not only the beauty of nature, but of the way that darkness can feel magical.

Miyatake’s work is influenced by two things: the devastating Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami of 2011, and waka, a classical form of Japanese poetry. These types of poems are written in 31 syllables and arranged in five lines, of 5/7/5/7/7 syllables, and they are meant as an expression of the human heart’s response to nature. The photographer considers his work similar to the poetry form, as “snapshots” of the forces that have shaped and destroyed Japan.

In an interview with Mia Tram, Associate Photo Editor at TIME, Miyatake talks about an influential piece of Waka poetry, stating:

The poetry of Kubota represents what I saw and felt when I took these images. When I photograph, a mystic feeling comes over me. I sometimes admire the mysterious legends that are a part of Japanese folklore that express a fear of nature. I believe Waka also intends to capture this sort of fear of the mystic beauty of nature. (via Lightbox)

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Painful Photographs Of Japanese Tsunami Survivors

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In March 2011, an earthquake and tsunami struck Japan causing widespread damage and destruction across the country. The fishing town of Otsuchi along the Sanriku Coast was hit especially hard, with 60-foot tall waves destroying 60% of the town. Argentinian photographer Alejandro Chaskielberg heard about the devastation in Otsuchi from the curator of an exhibit of his work in Tokyo in 2012. Upon visiting Otsuchi, Chaskielberg discovered large mountains of debris and places that were visibly demolished. Because Otsuchi is such a small town, the photographer easily found people whose homes were destroyed, most of them living in small temporary housing units. For his “Otsuchi Future Memory” series, Chaskielberg had some of the town’s inhabitants pose inside their now destroyed homes or work places during the night, taking black and white long exposure photographs of his subjects. He’d then use the color palette of decayed photographs found in an album among the ruins to color the his portraits.

Chaskielberg says, “It’s a reflection on the tragedy as a whole—the losses, the memory—and my way of seeing the world. These historic images are the bridge to the past I create through the use of colors…These photographs speak to the way the Otsuchi inhabitants decided to record their lives. From my viewpoint, I try to build a story about the city and its people.”

This method results in haunting and surreal photographs, ones that almost appear strangely collaged or layered, but are only enhanced with color and lighting. (via slate)

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Japanese Artist Daisuke Ichiba’s Intricate Drawings Interweave The Disturbing And The Grotesque


Life is an inextricable combination of beauty and awfulness, good and evil, and Japanese artist Daisuke Ichiba captures these dichotomies in his highly detailed, densely populated drawings. Drawing is just one of the media that Ichiba has mastered — he is also a painter, filmmaker, and photographer. No matter the form, though, his content grapples with the reality of life and its grotesqueries.

“Choosing to create work that is only beautiful feels artificial. Thus I paint both. You cannot sever the two. The expression that results is a natural chaos. In my work I project chaos, anarchy, anxiety, the grotesque, the absurd, and the irrational. By doing so I attain harmony. This is my art. Put simply, I paint humanity (the spirit).”

At first glance it’s possible to miss the disturbing elements of Ichiba’s work. The Indian ink compositions are dense and unusual for Japanese art, which tends toward clean lines and minimalism, although they do include Japanese iconography such as the schoolgirl and cherry blossoms. Influenced by his early admiration of comic book art and manga as well as the loss of his mother at age 8, his works fuse vile, often many-eyed, monsters into domestic scenes. Figures are missing features—an eye here, a mouth there—and the occasional introduction of color feels threatening, reminiscent of spreading blood.

He meditates on sexuality and death and the intangible cord that ties them together. Ichiba’s haunting tableaus are a type of contemporary shunga (Edo-period erotic scrolls), in which beauty navigates chaos with one eye closed. (Source)

The impassivity of the deformed figures is striking in the work. Both human and monster accept their fates. The faceless children and severed heads represent the darkness in all of us, ubiquitous and unquestioned.

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Japanese Artist Arrested for Distributing 3D Model Of Her Vagina

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On Saturday, Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi was arrested for the crime of distributing indecent material. And what did she distribute, exactly? Digital data that represents 3D modeling information of her vagina. After raising around $10,000 via her crowd-sourcing campaign, Igarashi was able to complete the construction of her planned vaginal-shaped kayak. As part of the campaign, donors were promised the digital file from which Igarashi was able to complete her design – it is for sending these files that Igarashi was arrested, and faces up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. If you thought sexist double standards were beyond apparent here in the States, then let me direct you to Japan’s incredible double standards, most strongly evidenced by the celebration of penises in an annual penis festival and their stance on most international pornography standards. Known by the pseudonym rokudenashi-ko ( “good-for-nothing kid”), 42-year-old Igarashi began working with 3D models of her vagina as a response to the shame and ignorance she felt about her own genitalia.

From her web site: “I make art pieces with my vagina, which I would rather call Manko(MK). I thought it was just funny to decorate my vagina and make into a diorama, but I was very surprised to see how upset people get when they see my works or even hear me say the word Manko. Even when a TV station asked me to be on their show, they wouldn’t dare let me say DECO-MAN because “MAN” is from the taboo word “Manko”. Why did I start making these kind of art pieces? It’s because I had never seen the vagina of others and I was too self-conscious of mine. I did not know what a vagina should look like at the same time, so I thought mine was abnormal. Manko and vagina, have been such a taboo in Japanese society. Penis, on the other hand, has been used in illustrations and has become a part of pop culture. But vagina has never been so cute. Vagina has been thought to be obscene because its been overly hidden; although it is just a part of a woman’s body.”

There is a petition circulating advocating for Igarashi’s release that has already collected almost 19,000 signatures. You can watch her crowd-sourcing campaign video here. (via guardian and spoon & tamago)

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4-Inch Point Of View: Stunning Landscapes From Around The World Captured With An iPhone 

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Sam Alive is a New York city-based photographer who has truly aced the digital lens of an iPhone. His project “Through the Phone” features stunning landscapes, urban cityscapes and natural sceneries all captured with a mobile camera.

The key to Sam’s work is the juxtaposition between the sharp and detailed view presented on the mobile screen and the blurry unrecognizable background behind it. To mock the late influx of smartphones in our lives, artist takes these wide breathtaking vistas of sea shores, valleys and skyscrapers, and crams them into a tiny 4-inch display. Thus, limiting the viewer’s vision and making a good point about the change in our perception.

“Life is like an adventure, because you never know what is going to happen next; you only have one life, all we can do until we die is live everyday to the best of our ability. As long as I am still alive, I will continue to take pictures everyday of my life.”

Sam started his project “Through the Phone” two years ago and already had a chance to travel and take photographs all over Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, San Francisco and New York. In his Tumblr blog, he promises to keep on traveling and updating his project with more captivating shots through the phone. (via designboom)

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