One unexpected thing during my stay in Japan was becoming a performer. Friend and seminar-peer Hiramoto Mizuki needed people to carry out her Sushi performance, which involves humans taking on the appearance of the popular traditional Japanese dish in the streets of the crowded night-life district Roppongi, as part of the Roppongi Art Night festival. So I became the rice to her tuna. I was actually part of the (huge) camera crew half of the time as well. I don’t normally enjoy performing in public, but the experience was actually pretty fun. She made a video out of the copious material her little army of camerapeople got for her, and made it her graduation project. The video’s spoken in Japanese, but if interested just skip to the performances.
I was also asked by another friend from my seminar to develop her website in three short days, since she apparently needed it to apply for an art residence (she happily succeeded.) I just made a static site, since there was not enough time, and she made the design. Other than that, I made a little web flyer for a friend’s party (she’s a dancer and often participates in such things,) which marks one of the few chances I’ve gotten to do actual, standard graphic design these days.
Even though I’ve been making a lot of stuff and been involved in many projects during my stay in Japan, I’ve failed to keep this blog updated, so I’ll try to slowly and retroactively add everything. I’ll start with the latest: my graduation project.
I spent the last two years in the New Media program at the Tokyo University of the Arts (named the university thus as it may be, I actually lived and studied in Yokohama, where the Film and New Media school is located.) The second year is when most of one’s energy goes into the graduation project. I’m not going to get into details here, but it was a rough year for our generation, and I’m glad it’s over. I had a first start with my Nendo project, of the design of a programming language inspired by art and design thinking, but the last six months or so had me switch over to what I call in English the Come to think of language project, which I guess you could call a linguistic experiment. I’m of course not a linguist, but I am very interested in the field and inspired by some of its thinkers. The linguistic relativity principle, or so-called Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, was one idea that drew me to the original programming language design, and that inspired the project that I ultimately completed. This is a very simple but powerful idea: the observation that language is deeply linked with thought, and that different languages would foster different ways of thinking. This has been highly debated in the linguistics field (Chomsky’s followers are very much against this idea, for, I dare say, mostly historical reasons,) but rather than attempt proving or refuting it, I assumed its truth and let it influence me. […]
This was long overdue: a browser for all of my released games, including the terrible ones, and covering all the range up to the mediocre. I used a binary system for highlighting the ones I consider to be less unremarkable; they use up double the space of the others. There’s also a handy tag there called gamey that marks the games that are more traditional in scope, so you don’t have to bitch to me about how my games are not really games.
I wanted to highlight some new stuff on the front page, but ended up redesigning it. I like this new version much better than the last one, even though it’s just a retool gone a bit out of hand. Other than still featuring Cleo, it includes a favorite feature of mine: random colors. Another ‘feature’: it doesn’t work properly in IE.
I can now hold in my hands the physical result of half a year of work, the freshly printed book for children called Jugosa cocina para niños (juicy cooking for kids) that, in addition to containing plenty of recipes meant for them to prepare by themselves (with an adult’s helping hand), includes all sorts of trivia about ingredients and the culinary art, and which, the author says, is meant to help the children recognize the value in the food that they eat, think about nutrition, and put their creativity into practice. It was a fun project, in which I was involved as an art director and layout designer.
Probably the most interesting course I took while in university was Rodrigo Ampuero’s workshop, in 2007. The subject of that semester was as divorced from the core of my degree (graphic design) as my classes got, and I say that in a good way. During that semester we learned about museography: the design of exhibition spaces. It was a fascinating enough experience that I sought to do an internship related to that, but it fell through in the end.
The whole class took a trip to the Museo Naval y Marítimo de Valparaíso (Valparaíso Sea and Navy Museum), where we took a look at their exhibitions, and were asked to conceptualize one new exhibition space. Two classmates, Natalia and Juan Pablo, and I, spent all those months butting heads and working overnight. I’m pretty sure we were on the brink of hating eachother. I’ve never been very good at teamwork, but the three of us ended up quite invested in our work and in our chosen subject, so we had long arguments. While most of our classmates’ proposals were about showing the underwater fauna of Chile, we arrived at the idea of displaying the ugly side; that is, all the damage that us humans are causing the underwater fauna and flora, with statistics and shocking images.
It all started with a brainstorming session we had one day, after we got our butts kicked in class. We were taking a very conservative approach, so we were asked to be bold and completely rethink our stance. During this brainstorm we came up with four radical concepts, two of which I sketched: the ones we called ‘clinical’ and ‘house of horrors’.
In 2006, for my workshop course in that year’s first semester, I created a graphic work that ironized technology and how the Monkey King (humanity) wreaks havoc on Earth through its lack of restraint and its egocentrism. The next semester I was to base an animation on that work.
This was a semester-long project (it kind of doesn’t show, due to a long preliminary process) for Sebastián Skoknic and Bryan Phillips’s course. Other than being my longest animation since, it marks the first time I ever did anything resembling sound design; I even splashed a bit in the tub to get some water sounds. The most interesting part was using the Game Boy Camera (thus the Game Boy sound hardware) for the electronic noise, which I think worked very well.
The subject of this piece remains the same as the one it’s based on, though I didn’t make any specific references to video games this once, just computers.
In the tradition of writing a new post for every new front page design I make, I guess I need to write this. My late feline friend, Cleo, passed away yesterday. I spent half my life with her at my side. So, I made a simple new design in her memory.