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Writings and musings on the latest web trends and life, advertising, design, projects, and news from an avid and prolific web designer.
Up and about since 2003.
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Install Android 2.2 Froyo on iPhone 3G on Windows with pics and video
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Custom iPhone lock screens on iOS5
Naoshima’s art museums feel like a cross between a hidden concrete paradise and an asylum.
Tadao Ando is a genius, and Naoshima is an odd but deeply satisfying testament to his vision. Naoshima sits about an hour north of Takamatsu by boat, 3 hours south of Tokyo by train, and is more or less a quiet artist’s enclave (or colony, as Providence, RI or Rocky Neck, MA).
The three hallmark establishments made in some or whole part by him are the Ando Museum, the Chichu Museum, and the famed Bennesse House. All three museums carry his signature concrete slab construction, evoking memories of a Swiss military bunker or modern mountaintop chalet (simple, rugged, and unpexpressive). You experience each with a confused rollercoast of emotions ranging from boredom, confusion and sheer awe. The Ando Museum is perhaps the most underwhelming, laying tribute to the architect with a particular focus on the Church of Light, a building built in Osaka under a variety of well-documented financial constraints that smelled too strongly of an individual who clearly could not fathom undertaking projects that did not involve large sums of money.
Benesse House and Chichu Museum are fitting examples of this, though perhaps the latter is more impressive, as Benesse has catered to the variety that would be desirable to its clientele, the ones who decide to spend a night or two there.
There’s Bruce Nauman, there’s Jannis Kounellis, there’s a bit of scuplture and recyclables and a weird arrangement of Ultramans all banzai-ing, and then there’s Jonathan Borofsky’s Three Chattering Men, repeating a recording of “chatter chatter chatter” by some man who clearly thought he was vastly underpaid to say repeat “chatter” for 10 minutes straight. It’s disappointing that you can’t see the Oval, either, unless you’re staying overnight at the hotel.
Chichu Museum (”Underground museum”) is much more demure and sparse, but each piece in it is worthy of contemplation in a slightly uncomfortable way. It certainly doesn’t help that the attendants in the museum are all women, and all wear white doctor’s scrub-like material that seem to suggest that they could restrain you and send you the the asylum should you even consider taking a photo inside.
Not my photo. Courtesy
At times, it feels as though the viewer (you or I) is the subject of the art piece. For example, James Turrell’s Open Field evokes images of stepping into a TV screen, while the square “Open Sky” room can be viewed as both a canvas for the skies or as a way for someone larger than us to peer inside a box in which humans wander curiously about. The three Monet pieces sit inside a completely white room, with white square pebbles forming part of the floor. The squishy white slippers that you’re required to wear also add to the rather disconnected experience. Lastly, the altar to abstract art manifests itself in a black marble ball sitting midway up on a set of staircases surrounded by golden wooden bars shaped in squares, triangles or hexagons. Enter, and you’re almost a card-carrying member of the Tadao Ando cult. To be fair, this is not his piece. But it all fits in to his grand vision of the abstract, the contemporary, the modern. It had a deeply satisfying aesthetic for those keen on symmetry in architecture.
I didn’t factor this into my plans, but if you do go, consider actually staying at the Benesse House.
Leave Tokyo station at around 7:30am on Nozomi shinkansen towards Hiroshima (~¥31,000 round-trip). Get off at Okayama and transfer to the Seto Ohashi line towards Takamatsu. At Takamatsu, eat udon for lunch, wander around Tomomo castle before checking in, then make your way to Ritsurin Park (¥410). Opt for a walking guide tour if possible (free).
In the morning, take the ferry towards Naoshima (¥1220). The boats drop you off at Honmaru. Walk through the Art House Projects and/or Ando Museum, wander through several temples before hopping on a bus towards Miyanomaru (100 yen). At Miyanomaru, check in, then rent a bike from Cinnamon (¥400 per day, late returns available until 10pm), then bike towards Benesse House. If you’re not feeling up for the hilly bike ride, consider taking the bus from the marine station or spending a little more for an electric bike from the rental store in front of the marina. Stop first at the Chichu Museum (¥2060). If it’s later in the afternoon, consider a snack there, as Benesse’s cafe closes at 4:30. Afterwards, consider a trip to Lee Unfan museum, or head directly to Benesse House (¥1030) by foot. Continue towards the yellow pumpkin before either taking the bus or bike back to town. Head straight to the I heart Yu bathhouse (take your own soap and towel, or buy a towel there - ¥310) to relax. Grab dinner at New Olympia (choose the Washoku-teishoku or Sashimi-teishoku) before turning in for the night.
As alternate detours for the third day, consider going to Teshima.
The views represented here are my own, and not of my employer.
I don’t think a single day goes by where I don’t use Google Maps, and not merely because I work for Google.
One of the highlights of traveling to China was having the opportunity to understand the unique technology silo it lives in, and how it manages to remain innovating and cutting edge, relevant to its users, and rapidly gaining traction on the international tech scene.
I hear the muezzin’s call and make my way towards the Kizilkayalar Hamburger stand in Taksim square, where I’d been wandering about as the clock ticked 8:36pm on my phone.
Click thumbnails for larger versions
70-200mm f/2.8 II at f/11, 170mm 1/15 seconds, ISO 100
It’s approaching 8pm and I’m sitting at the Chez Vrony, with the Matterhorn in front, waiting for someone to ask me if I’d like to have a drink.
This technology is part of a $2.5 billion market expected to grow soon into a $17 billion yearly market in the US alone.
One of the things that make me most excited about having shelled out an exorbitant amount of money for Google Glass is that the space for research and design using it remains pretty big.
Updated 173 days ago.
Updated 173 days ago.
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