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<nettime> Kazue Kobata/David'Heilly's Buzz Club in PS1 (New York)
geert lovink on Sat, 4 Aug 2001 20:51:45 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Kazue Kobata/David'Heilly's Buzz Club in PS1 (New York)


(David d'Heilly, a nettimer from the first hour and documentary film maker
and critic in Tokyo sent me the URL of this New York Times review. It must
be an amazing show. Congratulations, David! /geert)

http://www.ps1.org/cut/current.html

July 1 -- September, 2001

P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center presents Buzz Club: News from Japan, an
exhibition exploring the urban sensibilities of contemporary Japanese media
culture. This exhibition features works by more than 100 artists, commercial
designers and anonymous makers of streetwise scenes who are directly
involved with digital media or who use technology-based techniques and
strategies to approach traditional artistic disciplines. Animation, cell
phone art, fashion, sculpture, anime, films, elaborate graphics, popular
action figurines and models, electronic music and sound and light
installations are all part of this exhibition. Curated by P.S.1 Adjunct
Curator Kazue Kobata and filmmaker/critic David d'Heilly, Buzz Club: News
from Japan is the largest exhibition of Japanese pop culture creators ever
assembled outside of Japan.

In one Buzz Club gallery is a 70-foot-long beehive structure -- a humming
metropolis of hexagonal cells that visitors can climb and enter. There,
visitors can interact with everything from commercial video games to a
meticulously hand-drawn panorama of Tokyo. The enormous honeycomb structure,
made of 2.5'-wide hexagonal tubes made of structural cardboard, is a site
for hundreds of customized installations that represent the diverse yet
cohesive context of Japanese youth culture. Inside the hives, visitors will
find unique works by young artists inspired by street culture. While each
section of the hive forms an isolated, atomized world, these cells are
structurally and conceptually interdependent.

A second gallery features five successive performance-based exhibitions by
artists who cross and confound genres: works range from pop music acts and
graphic installations to fashion remixing and large media art installations.
This series of solo exhibitions by some of Japan's leading multidisciplinary
pop culture creators will appear in two-week cycles. The Super Lover
Animation Life, an installation by designer Hideyuki Tanaka, sets the artist
's sensationally popular Prince Tongha pop group (with performer Pierre Taki
and DJ Tasaka) in a surreal landscape produced by their iconic Super Lovers
clothing line. Electronic music and graphic design outfit Delaware will
rehearse and perform Bit Map Beats daily in a room bedazzled with thousands
of CD cases, each filled with strange icons, to create a massive pixelated
mosaic. Cutting-edge fashion team Nakagawa Sochi presents New York Wearables
Cut and Paste Re-Cycle, a public garment-making project that evolves as used
clothes brought by visitors or collected through various events within the
city are altered and "remixed" on site and displayed, then auctioned in the
gallery. Gabin Ito, a legend in video game creation, presents Zero Gravity
Sports for the IT Era, an inventive series of sports with rules that defy
common sense and sensibility. Finally, Toshio Iwai, a leading media artist
in Europe and Japan, will install Photon, an interactive media installation
involving optical handheld musical devices that read lights installed in the
gallery and produce them as sounds.

Several artists will contribute animations to a growing web-based component
of Buzz Club: News from Japan, which will be accessible at www.ps1.org for
the duration of the exhibition. Discussions, performances and activities
related to this exhibition will held throughout the summer.

Some participating artists include: Hideyuki Tanaka, Pierre Taki, Delaware,
Nakagawa Sochi, Gabin Ito, Toshio Iwai, Exonemo, Yuka Wake, Taka Furuhashi,
Sousei Kazuki, Tycoon Graphics, Tugboat, TGV, Groovisions, Kouji Morimoto,
Katsuhiro Otomo, Masaki Tamra, Ryota Kuwakubo, Hiroshige Fukuhara, Katsuya
Terada, Midori Araki, Ages 5 & Up, Kyupi Kyupi, Tokiharu Noto, Stereotype
Produkts, Keiji Ito, Taiyo Matsumoto, Takayuki Takeya, Kouki Hasei, Hironori
Murai, Hanako Kunishi, Hitomi Uchikura, Dai Okazaki/Smelly, Nihon-Ishina and
Motoshi Sato.

This exhibition is made possible in part by The Japan Foundation.

ROOM 1 Schedule

ROOM 1 features five successive performance-based exhibitions by artists who
cross and confound genres: works range from pop music acts and graphic
installations to fashion remixing and large media art installations. During
the exhibition, they create live installations, performances, workshops and
active exchange with the audience. Each of these presentations develops over
a one-week to three-week cycle:

July 1 - July 8: Hideyuki Tanaka

Loversí Garden is an installation by designer Hideyuki Tanaka. The artist
places Prince Tonghaís VJ/DJ pop group in a surreal landscape produced by
the iconic Super Lovers clothing line.

July 11 - July 22: Delaware

Electronic music and graphic design group Delaware perform three live sets
of Bit Map Beats daily in a room bedazzled with thousands of CD cases, each
filled with cryptic icons, to create a massive pixelated mosaic.

July 25 - August 12: Nakagawa Sochi

Cutting-edge fashion team Nakagawa Sochi presents New York
Wearables Cut and Paste Re-Cycle, a public garment-making project that
recycles used clothes, brought by visitors or collected through various
events within the city, into ìremixedî outfits displayed on site.

August 15 - August 26: Gabin Ito

Gabin Ito, a legend in video game creation, presents Zero Gravity Sports for
the IT Era, an inventive series of sports with rules that defy common sense.

August 29 - September 9: Toshio Iwai

Toshio Iwai, a leading media artist in Europe and Japan, is installing
Photon, an interactive installation of optical handheld musical devices that
react aurally to light in the gallery.

---

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/03/arts/design/03BUZZ.html

Becoming Immersed in Japan's Wired Pop Culture
By HOLLAND COTTER

"Buzz Club: News From Japan" at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center is a tasty
buffet of a show, a lunch of bite-size snacks, a combination obento and
candy box. Taken singly, the choices may leave you a little hungry, but
together they make a stimulating meal.

Organized by Kazue Kobata, adjunct curator at P.S. 1, and David d'Heilly, a
filmmaker and critic, "Buzz Club" is billed as "the largest exhibition of
Japanese pop culture creators ever seen outside Japan," which is a little
hard to believe. It is all confined to one not-big room, with a second
gallery given over to a succession of single projects.

The secret is compression. Most of the work - from sound pieces to
pocket-size sculptures to a Barbie fashion show made in the last year or so
by artists in their 20's - is ultracompact or barely there. And everything
is installed in a 70-foot-long unitary structure of compartment- size
hexagonal cells, like a beehive.

Conceived by the P.S. 1 senior curator, Klaus Biesenbach, and built by
Yasuyuki Ise, the hive sits in the middle of the gallery. It's meant to be
climbed on, walked on, peered into, even crawled into, with the idea that
the work in each cell be experienced up close, one-on-one. A few cells are
total-immersion environments. The young artist Taka Furuhashi has covered
the walls of his space with a charming, jittery mural of Tokyo. You view it
the way he drew it, lying on your back.

The hive form neatly reflects the decentralized, nonhierarchical character
of Japan's wired pop culture, a nonstop explosion of mechanical toys and
digital gadgets, infantilized cuteness and fantasized violence in which art,
fashion, design, pornography, politics and technology indissolubly mix.

So where to begin? Anywhere is good, and preferably with a gallery handout
identifying each numbered cell by contents or artists. Cell No. 1 is devoted
to cell phone art, a gallery- free, dial-up genre that includes not only
sounds but also visual images on a phone's menu panel. The few phones on
display aren't fully functional, but you get the idea, and the names of the
artist groups - Holy CowBoy, Ascii Corporation, Ages 5 & Up - are pop gems.

Sound-and-video comes next, some of it in the guise of another hot medium,
advertising. A group named Manual of Errors specializes in "original
compositions and music for commercials." (You can sample their wares on
headphones.) Tycoon Graphics presents a slick promotional video for an
imaginary King Don Champagne, with a story line involving a black athlete,
an ambisexual model and a heavy disco beat.

Other pieces concentrate more squarely on music, which can be a form of
self-advertising à la MTV. In Toshio Iwai's "Seeing Debussy," the artist
performs "Claire de Lune" as colored lights appear to burst from the piano.
And among several graphically diverting CD-ROM and Internet pieces by young
bands, those by Prince Tongha and Delaware - the latter describes its style
as "folk music for the Web age" - are especially groovy.

Japanese youth culture is the show's primary focus, and it's like no other
culture on earth that I know of. Technologically beyond sophistication,
avidly unadult, it has turned early preadolescence, a time of unpressured
bliss in traditional Japanese child-rearing, into an intensely imagined,
profoundly escapist alternative lifestyle.

Evidence of this is everywhere. One cell is devoted to Izumi Eada's "Sushi
on Seals," a blandly adorable preschoolish book that has attracted a cult
following among teenage girls. Another is a shrine to "Junk Sweets" by
Midori Araki, former editor of the Japanese edition of Elle, which combines
diaristic poetry with photographs of everyday objects - a hamburger, a set
of dentures, a ball of yarn - made from pastry.

Not that childhood is all innocence. Gabon Ito gives it a sardonic gloss in
a line of tot-size chain saws. And it turns indescribably weird in a made-
for-television animation by the protean Hideyuki Tanaka (he created Prince
Tongha and the Super Lovers clothing line), which combines giggling babies,
bad-guy executives and a grande dame fishlike character in a trippy,
bad-dream narrative.

And there's sex, circulating through the show like half-suppressed heat. It
surfaces in comic book images by Katsuya Terada that suggest fusions of
Arthur Rackham and Tom of Finland, in the "contemporary netsuke" of Takayuki
Takeya with their grotesque couplings, and in a hilarious safe-sex video by
the members of the gay and lesbian group called the Biters, all of whom are
prostitutes and performance artists.

They are also political activists. As such they are a minority presence in
the exhibition, along with the performance artist Minoru Torihada, who makes
a striking local debut. Whether appearing on posters as Hitler or Yukio
Mishima or filmed sitting astride a torpedo in a war museum, in his
ferociously suave pseudo-fascist persona, Mr. Torihada pushes historical and
cultural buttons that no one else in "Buzz Club" comes anywhere near.

He's one artist - the Biters are others - who would benefit from being seen
in a more expansive setting. (Someone should give them solo gigs in New
York.) So, in general, would video that requires a bit of air to make an
impact. In terms of sheer presence, it is the traditional medium of
sculpture and particularly sculpture of a dense, hypernaturalistic type that
comes off best.

The outstanding example is Mr. Takeya's diminutive, surreal, staggeringly
detailed image of a seal hunter skinning a Spielbergian extraterrestrial.
(It comes with a video of the artist at work, as if to prove that so strange
an object was made by hand.) Michiyo Kojima's figures of cats in silk
kimonos, titled "Feline Saints," are worth lingering over. And a series of
hats in the shape of lizard heads, designed by the chic fashion-team
Nakagawa Sochi, are impossible to miss. Presumably inspired by Godzilla,
they are every bit as creepy as they are cute.

Creepy and cute might best describe the show as a whole, if any easy
description would do, though none really will. As rag-tag as it is, "Buzz
Club" has more going on, potentially if not actually, than exhibitions many
times its size.

Anyone who thinks that new Japanese art begins and ends with the "Superflat"
Pop of the recent art exhibition in Los Angeles, so assiduously promoted of
late, will learn differently here. The artists at P.S. 1 are a generation
younger than the "Superflat" crew; in some ways they live in a different
world. They're online, on the phone, on the runway, onstage. For many of
them, the very categories "art" and "artist" are losing solidity, merging
into other categories, fading off into space. A similar dynamic has been
developing in American art, too, but far more slowly and cautiously. Where
all this is headed no one knows, but "Buzz Club" offers at least a bite of
the future.

``Buzz Club: News From Japan'' remains at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center,
22-25 Jackson Avenue, at 46th Avenue, Long Island City, Queens,
(718)784-2084, through Sept. 30.

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