The dream came true: Node Center goes to Tokyo!

May 21, 2016 research1

At last my dream to travel to Japan came true! I had the pleasure to stay two months in Tokyo from November 2015 to January 2016 thanks to a collaboration with Arts Initiative Tokyo, an independent organisation dedicated to thinking about, learning and discussing art. They run a residency program for artists and a Contemporary Art School called ‘MAD’ – Making Art Different, in which I had the honour of giving the inaugural workshop that would start their new cycle of alternative education in arts.

During my two month stay in the AIT residency I made:

  • A workshop for AIT’s MAD program 
  • Researched on sources of creativity and creativity in education
  • Tried out an experimental format to meet people that I called ‘Tokyo Speed Insights’

 

The workshop- Institute for Terranautical Explorations

This was an experimental workshop in which we tried to find fictional uses of artworks. The workshop immersed participants in a fictional future, where no knowledge of art exists. In this future, the Institute for Terranautical Exploration is in charge of discovering the kinds of purposes, uses or information that strange objects (artworks) carry with them. 

I brought props and tried to emulate a spaceship setting with sound and visual effects as a way to help participants get into their roles of the last survivors of the earth’s destruction. We analysed the objects (artworks) according to materials, their relation to human scale, contained information and visual resemblance to other things. Participants really enjoyed it and I think it brought new perspectives in a kind of a fictional archeology of artworks.

The workshop took place at Nissan Art Awards, an exhibition curated by AIT in BankART Yokohama.

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Research in creativity and education

I also focused my trip to Tokyo on continuing the work made during Node’s Innovators Program in which we focused on how to implement artistic thinking in education. During my time there I sought to explore from one side: sources of innovative thinking (trying to find creative places and people) and from the other side exploring education systems in Japan: alternative and official. 

Very soon I discovered that if you don’t speak Japanese you don’t get very far, so I worked together with super research assistant Kai Hoshino Sandy, my best partner in crime. Besides trying to find sources of creativity in the most fascinating places such as the electric town Akihabara, the fashion district Harajuku, and the Maid Cafés in Shinjuku; we also visited schools and interviewed teachers and people working with education. Further, we learnt about the day-to-day life of one of the first alternative schools in Japan – the KinoKuni school, we also visited a high school focused on fashion and film – the Vantan Design Institute, and we met the most inspiring man who founded a cram school with a focus on arts, Mr. Hideto Tabuchi of Mirai Tree School.

I’ll be sharing a more detailed report on this in the future, but for now I just wanted to give you quick overview. 

Thanks for sharing your knowledge: Kimi Hoshino, Mai Sandy, Shota Ogino, Mr. Hideto Tabuchi, Chika Shibata and Mr Ichikawa, we learnt a lot form you!

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Tokyo Speed Insights 

I believe that you get to know a city not by visiting places but by meeting people, especially when you arrive in new city and you want to get the most out of it. For this I designed an exchange called ‘Tokyo Speed Insights’ in which I offered one hour of my time in anything that I could help with, advise or assist, in exchange of one hour of the time of a local, to show me their personal favourite places in the city. 

It worked wonders and I was impressed by the generosity of people with their time. Many times for one hour of my  ‘work’ – usually sharing some of my experience with Node Center – I was given in return several hours of fascination: from hidden bookstores to anime attraction parks, from Kabuki Theatre to s&m clubs, from a Bulgari jewerly exhibition to a 5hr night walk from disneyland to an artificial island created from landfill and many many fascinating places. I am indebted to each person who I met. I received so much in return for my little help and have such great memories of Tokyo, for which I’m very grateful.

Thank you so much: Koji TanaShinobu AkimboAlex Einz, Shimi Satoko, Mariko Mikami, Chie Konishi, Kat Mat, Mika Mizuno, Miwa Negoro, Shota Ogino, Kyoko Ebata

 

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I can’t thank enough the AIT team who made my stay possible in Tokyo and who were the best hosts ever: Naoko Harouchi, Roger McDonald, Yuko Shiomi, Rika Yoda, Kaori Iwasaki, Shintaro Tokairin and Rie Okuma. I’m sure we will cross paths again!

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