The Boundary Between Kogei and Design

That’s the name of an exhibition taking place at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa (until March 20), curated by Naoto Fukasawa (one of my favorite designers, and I still think the Neon is the best mobile phone I’ve owned). The Japan Times interviews him about the show, which compares modern design to crafts.

Groovisions iMessage Stickers

I have so much love for Groovisions, absolutely my favorite graphic design unit from the 2000s, and not only are they being celebrated right now in Tokyo courtesy of an exhibition at Spiral — which I’d so love to check out — they’ve also released a set of animated stickers for use in iMessage.

100 Views of Tokyo

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100 Views of Tokyo looks like a beautiful book featuring lovely illustrations of the megapolis by Shinji Tsuchimochi. The bilingual book also includes maps of the various areas — take a look at this page for more details. They’re also having an exhibition of works from the book at Shikaku gallery/select shop in Osaka (the book also includes 5 views of Osaka), November 3-20.

Update: You can purchase the book directly from the Spoon & Tamago shop.

Reason Behind Forms

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I’ve been a longtime fan and supporter of the work of Nosigner (aka Eisuke Tachikawa, whose monicker is now the name of his firm), covering many of his early works in my “On Design” column and elsewhere, and it makes me happy to see that he’s gotten to a point where he’s headlining his own show at the Ginza Graphic Gallery (“Reason Behind Forms,” running this month until October 31). One of the main installations in the show is what you see pictured, which represents all of the technology that has been engulfed within the iPhone. There’s more to see in this Spoon & Tamago post.

SOLO (3 Years of Drawer)

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My great friend Luis Mendo is 3 years a “drawer” — the terms he prefers to use to describe his work as an illustrator — and he’s marking the occasion with his very first solo exhibition next month at Sorama (September 3-11, 2016).

Luis has of course been drawing all his life, but it was around the time that he first visited Tokyo — which led to a permanent move — that he started seeing a future where he followed his dream of making a living through his pens and pencils, leaving behind the career he had as an art director and graphic designer (although I’m sure he’s still producing the occasional brilliant piece of design work). I’m so happy to see Luis reach this point in his dream career, and the only thing that makes me sad is that I can’t be there at the opening to celebrate with him.

Pixel Art Park 3

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Do you have a thing for pixel art? If so, then boy do I have the exhibition for you. “Pixel Art Park 3” looks to be a fantastic celebration of all things prettily pixelized, and it’s taking place at the always interesting 3331 Arts Chiyoda space (September 9, 2016). Fans of Lexaloffle‘s PICO-8 fantasy console should also note that Joseph will be taking part, showcasing PICO-8 on his trusty 7″ TV.

That’s Entertainment!

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Ian Lynam is a Tokyo-based dude I love so much, and embarrassingly it’s just now that I’m catching up on the fantastic essay/exhibition he produced earlier this year called “That’s Entertainment!” Get some background through this TypeThursday interview, and then get online and read through the project’s main essay — and that’s also where you can download plenty of digital material to take in the rest of the project, like all of the posters that were part of the exhibition.

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Game On, but Not for Everyone

I recently attended the “Game On” exhibition here in Montreal, and was disappointed by it.

I did have high expectations, as it promised the inclusion of 100 games that were all playable, and although presented here at the Montreal Science Centre, it was originally devised by the Barbican. 

So what’s wrong?

The biggest issue I could see is lack of context, and it became especially evident by the fact that my wife – who is not aversed to games and gaming – really didn’t enjoy her time there. She thought she was going to be presented by a proper history of gaming, but to her it just felt like a big arcade – and yes, one that I was partaking in.

But I also noticed this. As much as I had a lot of fun playing old classics like Pac-Man and Galaga on original arcade cabinets, and then revisiting a few old console games (I played quite a bit of Tempest 2000 on Jaguar), there really wasn’t much in terms of explaining why these consoles/games had been selected, and what they really represented to the medium. 

And some of the areas are even worse, like the sections that explain marketing (by sharing a small glass case of GTA merch) and game design (not much more than one wall of post-it notes showing the world building/mission structure of GTA).

Then, there was the fact that some of the things on show were broken, from some of the controllers, to 3 out of 4 music stations simply not working – and this is especially bad since each station is supposed to offer up a different selection of tracks, to illustrate a different aspect of music in games.

If you are an active player of games, then you will probably get a kick out of this exhibition if only from getting to play through a lot of old games you haven’t played in a while – and there’s definitely something satisfying to playing on original consoles, over emulation. But I think the goal of an exhibition like this should be to introduce the medium to people who aren’t already informed on it, and to give them proper historical context for everything, so that they can better appreciate the evolution of the medium, and to better understand why current games are they way they are.

Nice try, but let’s hope we get something better in the future.