Project Japan 4

After lunch we headed to the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art. What a lovely building!

Artists (from the top): Hanada Kazuhara, Kanda Nissho, Momose Hisashi, Nakae Norihiro, and Richard Anuskiewicz.

What a brilliant day! A very special thank you to Yumiko for her generous gift of time and her invaluable local knowledge. Tomorrow: work.

Project Japan 3

After securing our precious supplies of paper Yumiko, Heather, and myself headed underground: Sapporo has a very well-developed and inter-connected network of tunnels, train stations, and shopping precincts in the centre of town. Part of this has been given over to an art gallery called 500m. It’s run as a regular gallery with new shows every three months: there’s an archive on their website (although non-Japanese readers will need Google translate or similar).

Here’s some images: Heather (L) and Yumiko (R) to start with. Following artists include Nohara Marie, Kasami Yasuhiro, Kobayashi Osami, Takeda Hiroshi, Sato Katsuhisa, and Hisano Shino.

Project Japan 2

This morning we were graced with the presence of textile artist Yumiko Inagaki who Heather had been in contact for several months previously via email. After Yumiko checked out Tenjanyima Art Studios we headed off uptown to check out specialist paper shops where we hoped to source materials: with the stringent limits on airline baggage allowances there was no way we could bring much with us. To the train station:

Whilst waiting to change trains I took these. The signage is aesthetically satisfying in a way that it just isn’t in the UK. The Japanese care about these things:

Lovely colour-coded exploded views of the station layouts are commonplace:

We’re not even up to lunchtime yet! More to follow…

Project Japan 1

We’re spending this August in Japan. A working holiday, with one exhibition in Sapporo scheduled for the end of next week and another in Kyoto two weeks later. Thanks to the Arts Council of Wales for their support.

Things got off to a good start when we got upgraded at Heathrow. Sweet! This is a bit of a naff photograph but somewhere during my sleepless vigil over Mongolia I became aware of a full moon shining in:

All smooth until Narita airport then, but our connecting flight to Sapporo turned into a rather Kafka-esque experience as we encountered a Japanese ‘Domestic’ flight check-in in all it’s rule-bound glory. I’ll tell you about it sometime…

Nonetheless, after 24 hours travelling we made it to Sapporo. After a quick shower and a change of clothes we headed out for what turned out to be superb sushi at Natsume.

This morning we headed down to Tenjinyama Art Studios where we will be based for the next two weeks:

Very excited. Watch this space…

Final thoughts on travelling itself:

    1. The fact that you can fly half way round the world in ten hours is absolutely incredible. Even 100 years ago it would have been undreamt of.
    2. That the modern airliner can do this non-stop is testament to the advances made in jet engine efficiency (and fuel, I guess).
    3. Passing through Terminal 5 and Narita and New Chitose in quick succession makes you realise just what a vast enterprise this mass movement of people is. Yes, we moan about delays etc., but really the sheer logistics of it defy the imagination.
    4. Even up here in Northern Japan it’s hot. Not hot like it has been in England, but hotter: much heavier and more humid.
    5. It’s relatively easy to get round in Japan despite the obvious barrier of a language totally alien to our own. Lots of signage in English, a fair few people have a smattering of functional English, and the Japanese are so lovely and helpful anyway.


Easter in Paris





Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris

This chilly Easter weekend I’m in Paris for the 3rd Conference of the European Narratology Network. Here’s some pics of the venue: a lovely and extremely varied campus, if a little run-down in places:


The delegates gather.


Brian Richardson delivers the one of the first keynote speeches on Friday morning.


Human sacrifices entirely absent!


Exciting but brutal modernist workout. Derelict.


Interesting juxtaposition: Bauhaus-style building with man-monkey statues.


Raphaël Baroni delivers the final keynote on Saturday afternoon.

The conference? I delivered my paper yesterday and it went as well as could be expected. Overall? Let’s just say that I found the limits of my interest in narrative quite early on…

Dublin, November 2012

Another quick visit to Dublin. No time to look around, but plenty of dead time in airports. Fortunately I took Brian Eno’s A Year With Swollen Appendices to keep me company—his diary-with-essays from 1996—and consequently came home feeling much smarter. Coincidentally, there are a number of entries in the book about his own visits to Dublin, so keeping in the spirit of things here’s an ambient photo-essay on the airport:








Dublin, April 2012

Most years I get the opportunity to go to Dublin on business and it’s a place I’ve grown very fond of. Not sure I’d want to live there: financial crisis aside, the city has some serious structural faults that I’m sure test the resolve of even the most patient residents. The lack of a rail link to the airport seems bizarre, and the subsequent reliance on the roads is compromised by the endemic bottlenecks. The whole city seems to exist in a state of perpetual gridlock.
On the plus side, the Dart is the epitome of a civilized urban transport system, and I also particularly like the technoid bleeps and rimshots made by the pedestrian crossings. The people, of course, are lovely…

This year I explored the newly-developed area down toward the Grand Canal Docks: here are a few images (iPhone 4S).


The new Convention Centre and the Beckett Bridge seen from Sir John Rogerson’s Quay. In the background, and below, evidence of the financial crisis is all too visible:


All the way down City Quay and along Sir John Rogerson’s Quay there’s plenty of slick post-modernist architecture, mostly housing financial institution:



…which ends abruptly as you reach where the Liffey, Dodder, and the Grand Canal meet. The graffiti-strewn wasteland at the point is the site of a proposed bridge across to York Road, much needed but apparently a victim of the Recession:




After circling back via Hanover Quay – did I really walk past U2’s studio? – we’re back into the high-PoMo island of Grand Canal Square:




Which brings us back onto Pearse Street and directly back to the hotel:




Interiors 1

Whilst in London last week I walked back from the South Bank to Victoria on two consecutive evenings. As I walked down Victoria Street the first night I was looking into the reception areas and foyers of the all-but-deserted office buildings, the shops, the restaurants, and it struck me how odd these places were at night.

Consequently, the next night I decided to do something about it and zig-zagged my way up the street, quickly shooting into the interiors. I say quickly, because the security guards did not look all that amused about being photographed, and there has been at least one incident in London of the Police demanding that images be deleted from cameras in the interests of “security.” I’m not just being paranoid: that night the whole place was crawling with Police because of political demos in Trafalgar Square.

Anyway, here are a few of these strange interiors:

Foyer 1
Foyer 1
Foyer 2
Foyer 2
Foyer 3
Foyer 3
Unlimited Shopping
Unlimited Shopping
Foyer 3
Foyer 4
Objects Of Desire
Objects Of Desire

All very shiny, all very bright, all very modern. Completely soulless. What on earth do these spaces say about us (apart from the fact we love wasting energy…)?