I love the aesthetic and materials in this new tote from New York based Stanley & Sons Apropn and Bag Co. This ‘seabag’ has a boxed bottom, a shoulder strap and has an anchor stamped on one of the clips used to attach the shoulder strap. Classic.
Taiwan is the best place in the world to turn ideas into physical form.
Taiwan is now the home of many of the world’s largest makers of computers and associated hardware. Its firms produce more than 50% of all chips, nearly 70% of computer displays and more than 90% of all portable computers. The most successful are no longer huge but little-known contract manufacturers, such as Quanta or Hon Hai, in the news this week because of workers’ suicides. Acer, for example, surpassed Dell last year to become the world’s second-biggest maker of personal computers. HTC, which started out making smart-phones for big Western brands, is now launching prominent products of its own.
Today Hsinchu Science and Industrial Park, the hub of Taiwan’s IT industry, is home to about 400 high-tech companies, chief among them TSMC with its huge “fabs”. Bigger than aeroplane hangars, these can cost more than $10 billion a pop and churn out three billion chips a year. Dozens of “fabless” chip firms, in turn, provide the designs. The most successful is MediaTek, whose chips power most of the mobile phones made in China.
Thailand’s prime minister lifted a nighttime curfew in Bangkok and other areas on Saturday, saying that order has been restored 10 days after a violent confrontation with anti-government protesters killed more than a dozen people and left parts of the capital in flames.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, however, said a state of emergency would remain in force until security officials determined that it was safe to lift it. The emergency decree, imposed more than a month ago, curtails some civil liberties and makes it easier to deploy the military to keep the peace.
Abhisit, who spoke at a press conference for foreign journalists, also said he would not rule out an election before the end of his government’s term late next year, though it would be “difficult” to hold the polls this year.
His aide, Sirichoke Sopha, said the 10-night-old curfew was being lifted in Bangkok and 23 other provinces because there were no more fears of immediate flare-ups from anti-government “Red Shirt” protesters who occupied the heart of Bangkok for weeks in demonstrations that ended May 19 in a military crackdown.
If there’s one thing that stands out about China’s luxury consumers, it’s their age. According to a recent McKinsey study, 80% of wealthy Chinese shoppers are under 45, and are on average 15-20 years younger than their Japanese or Western counterparts. Earlier this year, Jing Daily pointed out that Hong Kong high-end retailers had begun to more aggressively court mainland China’s so-called “young tycoons,” 30- and 40-something entrepreneurs and executives who have benefited the most from China’s booming economy over the past 10 years.
It’s a sign of the times that contemporary China’s male elite is moving on from single brand worship to developing their own comprehensive style based on individuality. As the representatives of the new generation of Chinese jet-set, their preferences will have a far-reaching impact in many areas.
Candid street photography and military aerial reconnaissance may seem to have little in common, but they’re both examples of how the camera has made us more distant from each other and from the world around us, according to Sandra Phillips of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, who is the exhibition’s curator.
Looking at a photograph, we may see another person’s eyes, and their most private moments, without their being able to see us in turn. The person in the photograph may not even know that it exists, while the photographer – looking through an apparatus rather than directly at the other’s face – is in control of this one-way encounter.
Likewise, surveillance technology allows us to view the violence of war, or the potential violence of a political demonstration or a military installation, without putting ourselves in harm’s way. Photography, says Phillips, has made us think of distant watching and impersonality as normal.
In one sense, task-juggling makes me feel great: busy, energised, fulfilled, as if I’m living three lives in the space of one. But I also know I’m scattered. I’m overloading my circuits. This overstimulated, underfocused world is driving us all batty. My mother – who complains when I click through my emails while talking to her on the phone (and by talking, I mean I toss out an occasional “uh-huh” or “sounds good”) – recently sent me an article about how multitasking is actually inefficient.
Hence Operation Focus. I’m going to recapture my attention span. I pledge to go cold turkey from multitasking for a month. Only single tasks. Uni-tasking. And, just as important, I’ll stick with each task for more than my average 30 seconds. I’ll be the most focused man in the world.
British artist Ralph Kiggel, after spending years mastering the art of woodblock printing in Japan, applies these techniques to the creation of art that follows modern and industrialist themes. Ralph Kiggel is based in Bangkok.
From his artist statement:
My recent prints are about old and new monuments–towers and constructions that go up into the sky: chimneys, pylons, pagodas and stupas. Any tower, whether it can be climbed or not, has a curious mystery. When you look up, you see towers in all shapes and materials crowding the sky.
I have lived in several huge cities in Asia, so I want to look sympathetically at my everyday concrete surroundings and see what might be positive or beautiful there. I hand print these monuments with natural materials from Japan and Thailand. The wood, water, organic paper and pigments that I use, and my imagery, pose tradition and the past against the passion for progress, our consumption of energy and the fragility of the future.
I love the vintage aesthetic in this gallery of images by Taipei based photographer ‘Ricor’. Love his work.
The “Mobile Cinema” is a reconstruction of a film prop from Alexander Medvedkin’s film “The New Moscow” (1938), consisting of a projection and viewing table. Using this bizarre device – which is a strange blend of an urban model, cinema and plate camera — the principal character of the film, a young engineer, presents his designs and urban visions for the new city on his way to Moscow.
Similar to the engineer in the film, Romana Schmalisch travels to various places with the “Mobile Cinema” and presents a film archive developed for it. The archive comprises films and filmic research on urban space and urban visions, sequences from feature films, texts and quotations. The various films and also previously unused footage, which the artist regards as an archive, are combined to a cinematographic collage. The film clips address in different ways the changes of urban space and the social changes that come with them.
Mobile phone and the Japanese
Michael Keferl and Sven Kilian write in the now defunct (but still great) vodafone receiver magazine about the future of Japanese mobile culture and the here-and-now feeling of mobile-born, user generated content. It’s a wonderful article with a ton choice tidbits.
From the article:
While we were tethered to our PC’s to stay connected, in Japan many people had their first experiences on the web via mobile.
While the West rooted itself in the internet from the PC side, for most Japanese the mobile handset was the original gateway to the web, a mindset that generated the most unique, mobile-crazy culture in the world. Since voice functions are among the least utilized by the mobile generation, to call a mobile handset a ‘phone’ is a tremendous understatement. Most prefer to communicate through mobile email and make their first email addresses not with Yahoo or Gmail, but through their mobile carriers.
Japan, particularly in the big cities, is a place where daily downtime is a fact of life. Whether braving a long commute from the suburbs or simply waiting in line, downtime that was once exclusively filled by reading material or nothing at all, can easily be converted into productive communication and creation, through one tiny device.
Differences in authoring and sharing content via blogs.
The average blogger typically chooses (or is by default forced) to remain semi or completely anonymous, represented by a nickname and avatar of their choosing. For Mobage Town, Japan’s largest mobile SNS, anonymity is part of the business model, as they derive most of their revenue from selling accessories for avatars. In general, blogs don’t feature the author as the star in the way many American blogs do but are rather an insight into their world, with the camera as their eyes. Either way, in true Japanese style, some of the most popular personal Japanese blogs are written by celebrities documenting their own meals, pets and weekend trips.
On mobile novel subculture
Mobile novels aren’t just about providing a new medium for writers but are also about capturing the writing style and culture of a generation fully fixed on their handsets. Years of writing mails to their friends has made the ‘thumb generation’ highly proficient with a keypad and the books are printed to look the same way on paper as they would on the screen, to maintain realism. The short sentences, slang and abbreviations may not lend themselves well to traditional literature but they very much reflect the real lives of the authors and their audiences.
Kusho by Japanese photographer Shinichi Maruyama captures the movement and collision of ink and water. Beautiful work.
From the artist statement:
The Kusho series consists of twenty-three large-scale color photographs that represent the interplay of black ink and water, both in midair and on white surfaces. The phenomenon that Maruyama captures–two liquids colliding the millisecond before they merge into gray–is the result of various actions and devices. The resultant images literally deconstruct the material elements of ink drawing and calligraphy, allowing us to see in extraordinary detail chemical and physical processes invisible to the naked eye. The split-second timing necessary to photograph these pictures is made possible by recent advances in strobe lighting technology, allowing the artist to capture phenomena in most instances at 7,500th of a second, and, in the few close-up images of droplets, at an astonishing 20,000th of a second.
A collaboration between Jopsu Ramu and Shun Kawakami, Urban Abstract is a journey across urban space that unfolds in forty, 5 second parts. The journey, in one, two and three dimensions, is a bit like abstract surfing in which the original destination is only reached after a number of seemingly random yet linked detours occur. Points , lines, planes and other abstract elements create a journey through an Urban Abstract.
Sruli Recht‘s set of four travel air-purifying masks from folded laser cut parchment are bound to bring shivers to your flying brethren. Astonishing design straight from the set of Gattaca.
From the description:
Mask D (pictured above). Functional full face piece combination single grill air-purifying respirator with replaceable-cartridge white N95 filters and light filtering sleep mask. Faceted hinged eye mask lifts for viewing and nasal rest prevents pressure on eyes.
Travel, at least the travel I engage in, forces me to think in whole new ways, and tackle problems that never happen in my day to day life. I find routine, though comforting, becomes mind numbing over time. I’m not forced to think as I act largely on instinct. When I travel I’m forced to navigate strange streets in a language not my own, while I wonder about contingencies if the ATM won’t work or the credit card is somehow unusable. I see things and experience points of view entirely different from my day to day existence.
I never travel to rest or have a vacation. I don’t understand the concept of traveling thousands of miles to simply sit by a hotel pool or hide away inside a spa. When I travel to a place I want to see, experience, and do as much as I possibly can in the time I have.
Where at home I am largely an introvert, abroad I approach strangers and ask them questions. I sit and watch people, observing their behaviour, style, and tastes. I document all that I see and experience.
It is during these times, and they have been far too few, that with a sketch book in hand I have had the clarity of thought to ponder whatever problem I am trying to solve. New ideas and new approaches emerge. If you are having trouble thinking through a new direction in your business, new product concepts or simply looking for a new perspective, going abroad, stepping outside the familiar helps immensely.
Though often exhausted, when I return from a trip I feel energised and full of crazy ideas.
The same applies to travelling abroad for extended periods to work, the freelancers dream of running a small business from the beach, working for long periods can help you reinvigorate yourself towards your work in all kinds of unexpected ways. Living and working in a foreign culture forces you to face different challenges daily over a long period of time, ways of thinking and ways of getting things done. It can only have a positive effect.
Jonah Lehrer wrote how travel is a basic human desire that makes you smarter, more open-minded and creative: “Why do we travel? It’s not the flying I mind – I will always be awed by the physics that gets a fat metal bird into the upper troposphere. The rest of the journey, however, can feel like a tedious lesson in the ills of modernity, from the pre-dawn X-ray screening to the sad airport malls peddling crappy souvenirs. It’s globalisation in a nutshell, and it sucks”. Because, “travel, in other words, is a basic human desire. We’re a migratory species, even if our migrations are powered by jet fuel and Chicken McNuggets. But here’s my question: is this collective urge to travel – to put some distance between ourselves and everything we know – still a worthwhile compulsion?”> Yes, “when we escape from the place we spend most of our time, the mind is suddenly made aware of all those errant ideas we’d suppressed. We start thinking about obscure possibilities … that never would have occurred to us if we’d stayed back on the farm. Furthermore, this more relaxed sort of cognition comes with practical advantages, especially when we’re trying to solve difficult problems”, and
cultural contrasts mean that seasoned travellers are alive to ambiguity, more willing to realise that there are different (and equally valid) ways of interpreting the world. This in turn allows them to expand the circumference of their “cognitive inputs”, as they refuse to settle for their first answers and initial guesses.
So my advice is don’t just go to your local coffee shop for a change of environment, go far afield, travel to someplace new. But forget club med, cruises and packages to Cuba; destinations that try to recreate the comforts of home. Instead, travel far and drop yourself in the middle of somewhere different and see if “distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity”.
Ralph Kiggell 1997 Pool Diver water-based woodblock print 35 cm x 60 cm
Now that life in Bangkok is slowly returning to normal it’s a good time to start sharing non-strife related events and finds. It’s also time to start planning a trip, perhaps in June, so I can visit galleries and eat great food.
Bangkok has a burgeoning contemporary art scene with local and international artists, a mix I haven’t seen in smaller exhibitions in Taipei. That plus Thailand’s long history of wonderful decorative and craft related art help make a trip to the Kingdom an inspiration.
Here is a short list of upcoming exhibitions for June:
Artists: 8 Artists (Jonathan Gent, Chat Jenchitr, Ralph Kiggell, Thavorn Ko-Udomvit, Yeni Mao, Justin Mills, Be Takerng Pattanopas, Audrey Tulimiero Welch) Curated by Brian Curtin
Date: June 8, 2010 – July 8, 2010
Gallery: DOB Hualamphong Gallery
ARDEL Gallery’s DOB space is delighted to announce an international exhibition of visual art. Including artists from Britain, New York and Thailand, On the Edge explores a fundamental aspect of picture-making: line. This exploration is intended to emphasize art-making in terms of method, rather than insisting on strictly contextual considerations.
Amsterdam’s Bike Dispenser hopes to facilitate urban bike rentals by allowing you to rent a RFID-equipped bike from one vending machine, ride and once you are finished drop it off at the original or another vending machine across town. It’s a great solution for commuters and short stay visitors. Taipei has a similar service in the Xinyi district but its open air and not tied to the transportation grid.
Considering the rising popularity of upscale vending machines, I’m surprised that bike rentals of this type haven’t caught on in more cities.
The Mehrzeller camper concept by Theresa Kalteis and Christian Freissling reinterprets mobile living by allowing customers to design all but the basic architecture and design parameters. Through an online application customers can input their specifications resulting in a camper ideally suited to their particular needs.
Mobility and living on the move are very important themes of our fast-moving age. People want to be mobile but at the same time, have a strong desire for a lasting home and their own personal four walls. In the camper market there is strong demand for new design and personalized, tailor-made solutions. Individualist tourists want a caravan that is made just for them.