Around Michel Gondry’s World

Michel Gondry’s world is a place I want to be. Luckily, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo allowed me the opportunity of peering inside such a world through an exhibition centering on Gondry’s works to date. Inside the gallery on the first level, one was invited to view a range of Gondry’s early process drawings and sketches. Taped to the walls were also replicas of portraits he had sketched for people from a booth on the streets of New York City at a fee of $20. This portrait project was later used in his career as a way to connect with fans, wherein a fan could email Gondry a portrait of themselves and be returned the image in sketch form. This drawing series was eventually compiled into a book entitled, ‘1000 Portraits’. On the second floor, each viewer was personally invited into a soundscape of brilliance. This floor was about Gondry’s music videos and featured the likes of Bjork, Beck, Oui Oui, The Living Sisters and more. Basically, what happened was you recieved some headphones and were goverened to walk into a white room. This room was filled with projections of video clips that could only be heard if you stood right in front of an image. As soon as you stepped away from a projection, fuzzy noise would fill your ears until you were standing beside a new one. Essentially, It was a 90’s slash early 2000’s time warp exercise that made you pick your feet up and dance (like you were wearing baggy pants, a metallic crop top and hair twists). The third floor was just…cool. Before entering, Gondry made a statement about wanting to encourage people to make their own home movies in the space. I was imagining propery to be about, however inside was a wonderland of fully fleshed, re-created movie sets from Gondry’s films. To name a few, there was an alleyway set from Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, a video store from Be Kind, Re-Wind and the kitchen and bedroom from The Science of Sleep. There were even entire cafe and plane interior sets. Student groups were also being encouraged to write scripts in groups and act out their scenes in the sets, whilst being filmed by an iphone. On the whole, the exhibition idea was interactive, transgenerational and seriously fun. It also made me literally step into the obscure, original world encompassed by Michel Gondry.

Musashino Art University by Sou Fujimoto

Designed in 2011 by Sou Fujimoto, The Musashino Art University Library is in fact a library covered in bookshelves - inside and out. Although it might seem that these bookshelves are supporting the building’s structure, that is not the case. In fact, the weight-bearing elements are entirely camouflaged behind shelving units. There are also floating labyrinthine paths between book-lined walls on the second level that seem suspended from nothing in their engineered greatnesss. The interior library signage is striking as well. Large catagorising numbers space out amongst the building, formed from varying installation-like parts. These view as artworks in themselves. However, it is the exterior of the building which makes it such a spectacular architectural endeavour. The building skin is formed of stacked boxes, sealed over by glass panes that are almost completely reflective. This means that from most angles, the building dissappears and leaves behind a superb image of leafy trees. By reflecting the landscape, the building subtly perfects the art of being responsive to the site upon which it sits.

Kawashima Textile School

"THE WORK OF THE HAND IS AN EXPRESSION OF HUMAN VALUES AND A LINK THAT JOINS HUMANKIND. What wonders our hands are, they cannot be praised enough. A symbol of our humanity, our hands have contributed to developing our culture and our human spirit that will guide us into the future." In this modern world, if one uses cutting edge scientific technology, anything is possible, but everyone admits that the goodness of handwork gives movement to the heart and mind. Since opening in 1973, Kawashima Textile School has provided substantial facilities for dyeing and weaving, including a variety of looms. The school also teaches a good balance of traditional techniques and culture, alongside modern textile practices.