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    By Appleseed
    Oct 16, '05 2:08 AM EST

    Housing for the Shinjinrui
    Otaku Duplex : Site 2

    Superflat revelations, Japanese subculture, and why you won't find any Japaneseness without post-war American pop culture.

    Drawing a parallel between historical perspective of Japanese art, starting from contemporary manga subculture to traditional arts. The term of Japan's own past pop culture and where we are today. A pessimistic look at the confluence of Edo art and post-war Americanized pop culture. Basically the same consumptive strategy. No contemporary Japanese culture exists without a reinterpretation of Westernization.

    The architecture will thusly be a series of contrasts. A reinterpretation of contemporary Japanese (America -> Japan) and American cultural characterizations. Superflat is an inevitable outcome in today's mindset. Breeding grounds for Universal Space.

    No camera eye. Nothing profound. No hierarchy = Modernist = everything is enveloped in sameness. No hidden feelings = exposed intention. And in some cases, no humans. Networks and movements. The public face of otaku subculture belies its deep connections to global commercialism. Superflatness is the new cultural export. Less Zen and more motorcycle. Bigness and lightness, while contradictory, epitomize the Superflat, through the loss of the third dimension. Focus on the expressiveness of the building skin. Simple volume, interesting facade. 2.5 dimensionallity. Urban condition is a relation of the figure/ground. This turns into the outside/inside, the green/and much less than green, and translations inbetween.

    Louvers, expressive steel, singular open blocks of universal space. The mix of the interior and exterior becomes the engawa. Private spaces - otaku are made uncomfortable by physical communication. Privacy gradients. Closed to the street. High windows restrict at grade interaction. Artwork component is going to be primarily storage. Something will be moveable, mechanical, apprehensive, a remote environment, a Mobile Suit, but not an autonomous thing. Movable space divider apparatus for privatizing the current sphere of influence. Otaku are agoraphobic. The main space may feel too open at times. This requires a mechanical, inhuman intrusion in order to force a more enclosed space.

    Materiality is potentially dubious. Not wood, but possible precedent of Kyoto style. Rectangular, but possibly rotationally shifted. Things move to force an interaction that is non-virtual. Human network, mechanical movement and visa versa. Something very introverted. Bufferzone between frontage and units that filters everything like a halftone or Norton anti-virus software. This has now become a clash of the marginal vs. the mainstream. No one but Japan-obsessed foreigners want to live in machiya anymore. Old buildings along the Shirakawa are torn down for medical clinics and love hotels. This neighborhood is a site for transgression. A shift from pre-genbaku old timers into slackers/hackers - a gentrification of a less than desirable kind. Everything will be viewed through a mediating wall of technology/circulation.

    This is the machinic anti-machiya.

    Program = Duplex housing (loft style) for KSU professors attached to the manga department. Rock/moss garden that is low-maintainence and probably neglected. Art component that is material storage (comic collection) and mechanic space divider.


    Mobile Suit

    No, we still haven't had a single day in studio. Maybe next week?


    • interested to see what you make from all that.

      thing about japan is there is so much contrast that context is impossible and so is standing out. anything new gets lost in the rest of the new and anything old is ignored. hyper insanity is already passe and the existing reality is more than enough without architects constructing new ones here. i think this makes architecture interesting here cuz we have to dispense with all bullshit up front, and everything gets cut down to essentials. gehry would be totally boring here (and is: look at the fishdance restuarant in kobe. nice fish, but building is mute).

      otaku-ness is not a sub-culture its an extra-culture, like a hospital estate for psychotics. popular on japan's version of tele-vouyeurism we are always seeing some show or other with mothers and fathers struggling to revive their shut-in children from their self-induced autism. could be fun to add society to the program, to distract the inhabitants from their obsessions with escape...

      Oct 16, 05 3:59 am  · 

      We shall see where I go. If working in a typical urban/suburban condition I would totally agree that contextual contrast is impossible. However, the site is actually still relatively pure, in the sense, that both of the neighbors are typical machiya, and across the street is some old ass samurai residence. Give the street another 20 years, and yeah, anything I do will be totally benign. But for the time being, there is still a statement to be made. Gehry is and will always be boring - our 'professor' (ex-Gehry partner) lectured on Fishdance for a fucking hour. Chain link as a building material is pretty much mute IMHO.

      I'd like to hear the difference between subculture and extraculture, as my reading is simply symantics. I have never seen it described as such, and as the 'in-crowd' I see it more as an offshoot than something truly comprehensive and inclusive. I might have written more towards the Densha Otoko crowd, then an actual university professor. Much of what is written about the culture (otaku) by foreigners, is in fact fairly pervasive through the whole of society, it is almost unfair to break it down in such simple terms.

      Oct 16, 05 9:14 am  · 

      sounds cool.

      wasn't intending to be critical btw, in case i gave that impression.

      i've been here on and off for most of 13 years now and know that otaku is used to mean die-hard fan in the west but here is also used to mean someone with serious mental/social problems (that is how my wife uses the word anyway. she treats it like a dirty word). i made up the idea of extraculture for the occasion, but to me the difference is the one between making your own reality and denying all reality/ living outside of society/ choosing autism over interaction. otaku-ness skirts that line, which is scary. also interesting i suppose cuz it could be a metaphor for tackling architecture in Japan;well, in some ways anyhoo. when things are crazy do you escape reality, mimic it or create your own?...or a bit of all that?

      Oct 17, 05 7:26 am  · 

      Don't worry, haha.

      I'd agree that over here otaku is much more of a dirty word. But, it is still used in a much wider sense that it is in the States. I think that the idea of 'making your own reality and denying all reality/ living outside of society/ choosing autism over interaction', is interesting, but maybe not all that accurate for otaku. Just look at their BBS networks. They love interaction, but in a virtual, abstracted sense. I'd have to say that the otaku conception of reality is really not contingent with our own. It is the concept of 'in-crowd' taken to a whole 'nother level. They love to debate, discuss, contrast, and argue, but in person they're bound to shy away.

      My roomate snores like a mofo.

      Oct 17, 05 1:41 pm  · 

      hm, yeah. the benign otaku is probs just as you say, like the japanese otaku kid in william gibson's cybrespace series. i still have images of the worse version; the 20 year old kid living in his mum's engawa with a bottle to pee in and mangas stacked all round. too weird for me....

      Oct 17, 05 8:00 pm  · 

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      Mar 21, 21 12:38 pm  · 

      this blog is interesting, I will come back again in another post Bestari

      Mar 28, 21 1:01 am  · 

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