Tuesday, July 31, 2007

off to the mountains

just getting ready to go off to see Fuji. have booked a ryotan which is a tradional japanese inn with a view of fuji over the lake.
we stayed in an inn here in kyoto, was great, just like in karate kid when Ralph Macchio went to Japan. a mat on the floor, a table with tea all layed out, all feng shui and stuff.

yesterday went to the most beautiful calm place either of us had ever been to, a temple, with this rock layout of 15 rocks that you can:t see all at once but had to try and see all together in your mind. the trees, and moss and lakes, and bridges jsut made your head clear. we going all buddhist.

then went all seady went to gion where the geishas are, didn`t see any but lots of things going on behind wooden slats in traditional houses by the river, and lots of bars that we couldn@t quite get. ended up in a really horrible english/american bar and got pissed and ranted about facism and psychopaths.

then went back to the quiet calm of the ryotan.

Kyoto is a great place. will try and find internet in the mountains, but may jsut go very zen and forget all about technology and modern life.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Kyoto - Space and Sunshine

Arrived In Kyoto last night about 7pm and missed the Tourist info centre. So we had to wander the streets with our bags looking for a hotel. But being Japan, we found a cheap business hotel which was cleaner than most 5 star hotels in the UK.

We then headed out into Kyoto for a meal. It is a much more relaxing place than Tokyo there is more space, walks by the river, canals and tiny streets with amazing little restaurants. We stopped in one and had Sushi (Well I did, Rachel had tempura veg). I think Rachel was little put off when the chef dipped a net in the fish tank next to us to get my dinner. But the Sushi was great not fussy, just rice with big slices of raw fish. Delicious.

After dinner we went to the river and the police were getting a DJ on the river bank to turn down his music. So we listened to him mix house at pin drop volume for a few minutes. We then headed to a huge Pachinko parlour and Rachel tried her luck with the falling balls of chance.
We really had no idea what was going on and no-one could really explaiin what we should do. But we enjoyed the noise and the buzz. An old lady sat watching us, obviously we were ripe for the taking. She pounced on our machine after we had left, to reap the rewards.

We are now off to take in the cultural sites. The Imperial Palace and the Zen Rock Garden.

More pictures soon.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

end of the festival

The last two days have been great. Full on, and full of conference stuff. Have began to get to know the group of artists that are attending the conference, it has worked out more like a lab really as there isn't much of a bigger audience, but that has been great, some very cool people, from Korea, Japan, England, Canada, Australia, German, Serbian...

Alot of talking, although I have spent most of the time running the demo of Dragons which went really well, although not many people, but the people who came where just off the street, spending their weekend at an arts festival, some young couples, a chinese business man, some of the festival people. Most of the time I didn't have an interpreter and most people speak only a little more English than I speak Japanese (and I can only really say three words, hello thankyou and desert) but have managed to communicate and people seem to have enjoyed it so that is ok. One person didn't understand wait a moment and ran off in excitement, ending up playing the game whilst looking at the set up screen which couldn't have been very exciting but apart from that it seems surprisingly easy for people to play here. Probably helps that games consoles are massive here and then graphics are quite cutesy which is the big thing here.

Two amazing nights. Saturday night a group of us headed off across Tokyo to a massive fireworks festival, which we missed, but got to see the people, millions of people in kimonos and cool cutesy clothes, a fair, a temple, a thing that tells your fortune involving chopsticks in silver boxes, and fortunes in a chest of draws.

Last night involved getting very pissed, laughing at the phrase books interpretation on how to chat people up shag them (it's ok I can help myself??) (particularly the English and Koreans) and eating a 10 course meal and getting back to the hotel at 4pm.

Today we are going to start our adventures. Not sure where we are heading. The sea, the mountains and Kyoto is far as we have got.

Off to say goodbye to InYong who we have been hanging out with, and then off we go.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Day 2 in Japan - The Heat Closes In

Today it just seems to get hotter and hotter. The humidity must be up above the 80% percent mark - phew!!! I woke up late nearly missing the hotel breakfast. Jet lag just wont let me out of bed.

We went off this morning to Yokohama to check if the co-ordinates for the game were correct by playing it around Yokohama Baseball stadium. It was hot, too hot to be walking around in the midday sun.

In the afternoon we went to the ICC. The japanese gallery for interactive artwork. As you can imagine there were some amazing examples of work. From lo-tech stuff like an anoechoic room (the opposite of an echo chamber). Your voice seems to die inches from your mouth. And even if you shout, it sounds like a mere whisper. Also a sculpture of a man juggling weird items which rotates in a room with a strobe light. Each portion of the sculpture is like a separate frame of an animation. The strobe light creates the zoetrope effect of making the rotating objects come alive.

To the most beautiful hi-tech work like a series of taps which when turned on water pours from them into a bowl. A projector overhead beams little images into the stream of water depending on the speed of the flow. Using a big spoon you can actually pick the digital objects out of the water. Amazing.

In the evening we went to shibuya to meet a Japanese friend: Keiko. There we went around some shops and she showed us her favourite shop. A cut price dept. store. Which sells everything a sort of Wilko's of everything useful and useless.

We then went and had a meal of Hokkaido style food including a jacket potato covered in pickled squid. Yum. I mean it! Lovely.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Rachel's first day blog

Photos: Matt tired on the metro, hotel room, in the restuarant, in the bar, Matt, Sasha and Christian.

A day of travelling, three films - walk the line for the second time, a slushy american one and Factory Girl, lots of cabin fever on a BA flight (how little room, and i'm already little).
Met Christian (one of the other artists) at customs, he was on the same flight, and we all took the train to Tokyo (lots of rice fields, industrial buildings and tons and tons of houses most wth curvy rooves, some bright blue, glistening in the sunshine).
It's hot, very hot, makes you sweat. No rain, which is amazing, just hot and blue sky, although hazy.
We are in a very posh hotel. small rooms, but you get your own house slippers and night shirts and it is all very Japanese and beautiful details.
We walked to the Imperial Palace (round the corner from the hotel) and then got too hungry so found a canteen and very bravely chose a picture of random looking food, luckily one of the dishes was vegetarian (as far as I could tell). I have decided to eat seafood if I have no choice while I am here, although I am not sure how much I can stomach. Then found a place to have a coffee that made no difference to the intense tiredness.
All the devices are charging and I am going to have a sleep and try not to dream of Bill Murray in Lost in Translation with a red mohican, which is a recurring dream I am having at the moment.
Went for a meal in Ginza with Emma (the festival organiser), the other artists and the gallery curator. Was in a rabbit warren of a restaurant, with sitting down in an alcove seats (matt sat crossed legged for ages before he realised there was a pit underneath the table to hang your legs down. With Emma being vegan, they managed to order vegetarian and vegan food, silken tofu with spice and ice, egg that was sweet and savoury in only the way an egg can be.
Popped into Ginza art lab on the way, the smallest gallery in the world, about as big as my bathroom. But in Ginza and very contemporary. I sat next to the curators who were very interesting, the main guy Ken studied at Nottingham Trent!
Went to a bar afterwards for a very sleepy final drink of the night.
Dreamt all night of wierd things, proper jet lagged sleep, I killed a person and made them into sushi and was found out when a dog found their scalp, arghhh, feel very strange now, time for breakfast.

The Dragons arrive in the Land of the Rising Sun

We have just arrived to start exhibiting 'Ere be Dragons at the Dislocate festival. We are both feeling a bit jet-lagged and out of sorts. I was wedged in the central seats for the 11 hour flight and had continuous cramp most of the way. Anyway, self pity aside, we have checked into our hotel. I have tried the automated toilets of japanese reknown and can report that the service wash delivered to my backside, was curious, to say the least.

I have also discovered that smoking is only permitted in certain parts of the street. So I joined a huddle of salary men for a crafty fag next to a set of vending machines and an ashtray with this strange inscription. (You may have to click it and make it large to read it.)

If you still can't read it it says:

"Inhaled. Burned. Thrown Away. If it were anything other than a cigarette it would surely be crying.
Meet. Love. The End."

What does it all mean. I must rest to gather strength for social event this evening and stop puzzling over love affairs with giant cigarettes.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

an alpine view and a trip to Japan

These are exciting times at AI.

We have now moved into a studio with a view... see the Alpine scene, with a secret door that leads to the world beyond the mountains... or Caroline's room.

We are preparing for our trip to Japan, flying out on Tuesday 24th (for me after a weekend at a festival in Wales, I will be glad for the 12hour flight!)

We are taking the single player version of 'Ere Be Dragons to Dislocate in Tokyo and Yokohama. We are hoping to add a system to play back people's games so that they can see the re-run in real time when they return.

We are also showing our new Dragons film (still being filmed) at a gallery in Ginza and will be playing the games on the streets of Yokohama.

...then we are off on a holiday to Kyoto, Fuji (what a dream!) and maybe even an island to a beach for a couple of days if we have time.

We will try and BLOG along the way...