Categories
Art Personal

In Shanghai

Art for “The Shanghairen” art project by Ye Yuan.

It took much longer than we had initially expected, but here I am, sitting in a hotel room in Shanghai.

How long did it take? I accepted the offer for my role at the Ubisoft studio in Shanghai back in May of last year, and I imagine my first contact with the studio was in March. So that means pretty much one year.

When I accepted the role, the plan was for me to start working for the studio remotely from July, and then hopefully a move could happen towards the end of summer, or around September. Unfortunately, it was only in September that immigration applications resumed, and the process was indeed a long one — we finally got the government papers we needed at the end of January, and then got our visas in February, and immediately booked our flight for March.

The weeks leading up to our departure date were pretty hectic, as I went to my hometown for a quick visit with my parents, and then a week before departure we needed to start self-isolating at home, and undergo a first PCR test 7 days prior to the flight, and then again 2 days before the flight (both a PCR and blood test). Getting the results the next day, if negative, would allow us to apply for a Health Digital Certificate (in the form of a QR code) so that we could actually board our flight the next day. Yes, it was as stressful as it sounds, as I don’t think anyone likes to leave unknowns that close to a scheduled departure time.

But thankfully there were no issues, and our flight from Montreal, with a transfer in Toronto, to Shanghai went off without a hitch. From takeoff in Montreal to landing in Shanghai it was just about 22 hours of travel (and because of the different time zones, we left Saturday night and arrived on Monday morning).

The arrival in Shanghai was, as expected, not your typical arrival due to the strict COVID measures taken by the government. We had to wait 30 minutes in the plane while paper work and passenger lists were verified, and were then led through a long walk in the airport, having another QR code (with health declarations) to show, another PCR test to undergo, and then waiting for a bus that would take us to a government selected hotel where we are to quarantine for two weeks. Everyone we encountered was in full hazmat gear, and that includes the staff at the hotel.

We never thought it would be an easy experience, but we had properly prepared mentally for it, and it went down pretty much as we expected. We’re thankful to be here, in a room that’s quite comfortable, and being served meals at the door that are not bad at all, while we check our temperature twice daily. Once we’re done with the two weeks here, we’ll still need to self-isolate for an extra week at another hotel, and then we’ll be able to go out and actually start looking for an apartment.

Oh, and did I mention that we arrive here while Shanghai is under the biggest surge in COVID cases since the start of the pandemic, and so various areas of the city are in full lockdown mode. So being quarantined in a hotel with meals served for the next couple of weeks isn’t bad at all.

All that said, we are indeed happy that this new era of our lives is finally started, and I can’t wait to finally get to spend some time at the studio to meet my colleagues in person.

The two images in the post are from a collection of 80 covers created for “The Shanghairen” art project, inspired by other homages to New Yorker covers like “The Tokyoiter” and “The Parisianer” — and there’s “Le Montrealer” as well, of which I spotted an exhibition at the airport in Montreal.

Art for “The Shanghairen” art project by Xin Yin.

Categories
Art Events Games Personal

GameLoop & GCX

Today was an enjoyable day, taking in Montreal’s annual GameLoop “unconference” — “unconference” in the sense that as a group we crowdsource the sessions for the day, with each session then acting as a salon-type discussion.

After leaving Japan and moving to Montreal, it’s taken a while for me to decide to start attending this sort of event again. It was a big part of my life in Tokyo — from running the PechaKucha Night series there, my PauseTalk series, and then other types of talk events and workshops I organized throughout the years (and then there are all the events that I attended as part of the audience).

But after the move, my new goal was to concentrate on my new career path (working in the games industry) — you could also add to that the lack of knowledge I had about the creative scene here in Montreal. Then, a couple of months ago I finally decided to check out one of the events organized by the Mount-Royal Gaming Society, Art-UP (also prompted by the fact that my friend Renaud B√©dard was one of the presenters), and it not only scratched the itch I had to experience this sort of event, it also made me want more, both in terms of attending and in terms of organizing.

It prompted me to reach out to the person (Nicolas Marier) who was organizing the long-in-hiatus PechaKucha Night series in Montreal, and not only did we hit it off on our first meeting, but it looks like things are brewing in a positive way to reactivate the series.

I then attended the Canadian Gaming Expo, with a day of talks that I found to be hugely inspiring (mostly revolving around indie game studios) — and it was nice to see a few of those presenters as participants in today’s GameLoop event.

It’s good to be bathing myself again in this sort of knowledge sharing — something I try to participate in and push at work as well — and I’m hoping that I’ll get to have a hand in organizing and supporting more events here too.

Categories
Art Web

Taxi Talk

The latest entry in the excellent New Territories web series (produced in part by Anne Ferrero) is “Epilogue: Taxi Talk,” a short film that sees a taxi driver recount a tale from the past.

Categories
Art Web

Rekall

Although not strictly Japan-related, I’ve taken quite a liking to the Rekall Tumblr, filled to the brim with 80s-90s visual references that are straight up my jam. It’s updated by game developer Steve Gaynor.

Categories
Art Design Web

10 Years of Spoon & Tamago

Big congrats to my buddy Joseph (aka Johnny Strategy), who recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of Spoon & Tamago, a site I’ve been happily reading (and often linking to) since the very start. We became friends through our shared love of blogging about similar aspects of Japanese art, culture, and design, and it’s really great to see how he was able to celebrate the milestone — read this post, which also includes a nice video that offers a nice wrap-up of the site’s last 10 years.

Categories
Art

Doraemondrian

My buddy Duncan created this great illustration that mashes together Doraemon and Mondrian. Via Canvas.

Categories
Art Design Events

Designart Reports

Designart has come and gone (held in Tokyo last month, October 16-22), but here are a couple of reports to read on the event that was, from The Japan Times and Dezeen. So happy to see Mark and Astrid (Klein Dytham architecture) be involved in this, and it sounds like it’s the start of a great new series of art & design events for the city.

Categories
Art Games

Yoshitaka Amano

Although not part of Anne Ferrero’s Toco Toco series, this wonderful short documentary on Yoshitaka Amano that she helped produce for Mana Books is very much Toco Toco-like, and a great look at the man and what inspires him.

Categories
Art Design

The Tokyoiter Shop

The fantastic Tokyoiter project — creating cover images for an imaginary Tokyo-based New Yorker-like magazine — has now opened a shop, with prints on offer. The runs are limited though, so jump on covers you’d really like to get and frame as soon as you can, but they do promise to introduce new runs with a new selection of covers in the future.

Categories
Art Manga Web

Hisashi Eguchi

After taking a break during the summer, Toco Toco is back with a new monthly schedule, and the first episode of this new season covers illustrator and manga creator Hisashi Eguchi.