Posts Tagged ‘sony’

Fish in Ginza

July 26, 2011

Now through the end of this month (July 2011), there is a large saltwater aquarium set up on a Ginza streetcorner in front of the Sony building.

It has been drawing crowds, which of course is its purpose. Sony hopes that passersby, once their attention is caught by the sharks and a giant moray eel, will step inside to see more fish – and not incidentally peruse some of Sony’s latest products.

There is a tank filled with exotic starfish and other invertebrates in the lobby, and once you’ve come that far, you may as well have a look around at their 3-D video wares, most of which are currently displaying images of Okinawa sea life.

Sony’s 3-D TV sceens display images with more impressive depth than I have seen in 3-D movies in theaters in recent years (including the last Harry Potter film just this weekend), but what really caught my eye was a home video camera with a built-in Steadicam-like feature. It and an ordinary camera, both pointed toward visitors entering the display area, are attached to a gyrating platform, with TV monitors on either side to show the results. On one screen, you see a blurry image of yourself whirling wildly about, while on the other screen you see a much clearer image of yourself (jiggling slightly).

While I’m sure that would come in handy, I’m satisfied for now with my current camera – made not by Sony but by Canon – which I used to shoot the video at the top of this post.

No more chicken in Ginza

December 30, 2010

I have just one Christmas wish that went unfulfilled this year.

From Nov. 27 until Dec. 25, the towering façade of the Sony building in Ginza was decorated with a Godzillaesque roasted chicken leg. The image, titled “Roasted Chicken,” was the work of artist Yumiko Kanda. It replaced an earlier Kanda piece called “Banana” which I had liked a lot more.

In a previous blog post about the Sony building’s Artwall project, I wrote: “The one thing I can say in its favor is that it is seasonally appropriate, as roasted or fried chicken is the centerpiece of a Japanese Christmas dinner. (Please, please, please let them replace this painting with one of a gnawed bone on Boxing Day.)”

Alas, when I walked past the building a few nights ago, the “Roasted Chicken” was gone without a trace. As shown in the photo at the top of this entry, the Sony building has joined what my grandmother used to call the Clean Plate Club.

The Ginza Banana got peeled

December 6, 2010

It struck me as silly from the start. The tall, narrow façade of the Sony building, overlooking one of Ginza’s busiest intersections, had been adorned with a giant banana.

But as I walked past it almost daily for several weeks, I gradually grew fond of it. And I was disappointed to see recently that it is no longer there.

The Banana, which decorated the building from Oct. 28 to Nov. 26, was the work of 30-year-old artist Yumiko Kanda. She was chosen for the job through a building-decorating contest Sony held. You can read about Kanda in Japanese, and see what the other finalists came up with, by visiting Sony’s Artwall page.

A sign at the base of what Sony calls its building’s Artwall says that Kanda’s “artworks are based on the theme of rediscovering the beauty in ordinary ‘things’ from everyday life, mainly using acrylic gouache on canvas board.”

Kanda’s Banana fit that “everyday” description. Rather than being an artificially perfect yellow, it is speckled with the black spots that tell you it is ripe and ready to eat.

These spots appeared to remain static throughout the Banana’s run, but if it had been up to me I would have started out pure yellow and then added a bit of black every day, allowing the banana to ripen before the viewers’ eyes as the weeks went by. The spots could have been added discreetly at night, or perhaps Kanda (or a professional steeplejack) could have taken a bucket of black paint and used a rope to rappel onto various parts of the Banana in an ant costume in broad daylight.

I don’t mean this as a negative criticism of the painting at all. The fact that I am having such thoughts means the Banana was a success. After all, if a 10-story Banana didn’t put silly ideas into at least some of its viewers’ heads – and smiles onto their faces – what would be its point?

However, the smile was wiped from my face last week when I saw that my beloved Banana had been peeled off and replaced by another Yumiko Kanda work – a giant chicken leg.

Roasted Chicken went up on Nov. 27 and will remain in place until Christmas. The one thing I can say in its favor is that it is seasonally appropriate, as roasted or fried chicken is the centerpiece of a Japanese Christmas dinner. (Please, please, please let them replace this painting with one of a gnawed bone on Boxing Day.)

Perhaps Roasted Chicken will grow on me like Banana did. After all, they’re both pretty silly. But there’s cheerful silliness and there’s odd silliness, and Roasted Chicken falls into the latter category. It’s a well-known fact that bananas are more cheerful than chicken legs. Not even the coquettish addition of a red ribbon around the chicken’s ankle can change this reality.

However, to admit my biases, I must say that my first glimpse of Roasted Chicken took place under less than ideal circumstances. Not only did the loss of my cherished Banana have me in a state of shock, but the low winter sun was reflecting off the wavy glass front of the Fujiya building across the street from the Sony building in such a way that it splashed large, uneven patches of light across the Roasted Chicken. This gave the chicken’s skin an unhealthy mottled appearance, as if it had been unevenly cooked. It was a most unappetizing spectacle.

When viewed in a better light (literally), Roasted Chicken actually doesn’t look horrible, but it still doesn’t make me smile the way Banana did.

A third Yumiko Kanda painting will go up on the Artwall in summer 2011.