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“Senseless Drawing Bot” Graffiti Robot Video

June 11, 2012

Artist/engineers So Kanno and Takahiro Yamaguchi have created a graffiti-tagging robot that produces its own unique designs as it trundles back and forth in front of a blank wall.

An original work produced by Kanno and Yamaguchi’s device.

Titled the “Senseless Drawing Bot,” the device is mounted on a motorized skateboard that jostles forward and back in order to set the can of spray paint in motion. By using a double pendulum arm, the robot’s swinging motions, and thereby the designs it produces, are chaotic and completely unpredictable.

The Senseless Drawing Bot was on display this past February at the National Art Center in Roppongi as part of the 15th Japan Media Arts Festival.

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“Love Distance” – Sagami Condom’s Billion-Millimeter Marathon

June 5, 2012

Sagami Condoms claim to fame is that theirs are the world’s thinnest. To help illustrate that claim, creative director and copywriter Naoki Ito of GT Tokyo agency produced this ad video, titled “Love Distance”.

A man and a woman separated by over a thousand kilometers spontaneously decide to bridge the gap between them on foot, as a caption counts down the distance remaining between them in millimeters.

[edit 19 Feb 2013: the vimeo version has been taken down, but I’ve since found it on Youtube]

Submitted to the Cannes Lions Festival for advertising in 2009, it took the Gold award in the Film category.

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Friday Music: Koi wa Psychedelic, by Mayumi Kojima

April 13, 2012

This week’s music selection comes from jazz singer Mayumi Kojima’s 2003 album, Ai no Poltergeist. Although I first encountered her work right around the time of her 1995 debut, her instrumental and vocal styling (not to mention the  retro cover art on the CD) tricked me into thinking she had recorded it back in the 60s.

Unlike her earlier albums, which showed a strong influence from European jazz and Berthold Brecht cabarets, Ai no Poltergeist has a more of a Latin feel, yet still sounds as though it’s coming from several decades ago. This is 恋はサイケデリック (Koi wa saikederikku, Love is Psychedelic).

As a bonus, here’s a video of her first single, 結婚相談所 (Kekkon soudansho, or Matrimonial Agency)

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Friday Music: Wamono, by Hifana

April 6, 2012

Hifana is (as best as I can tell) a Tokyo-based hip-hop duo consisting of DJs KeizoMachine (Keizo Fukuda) and Juicy (Jun Miyata). They released their first album as a duo in 2000, after doing extensive collaboration work with Yamatsuka Eye (the front man for The Boredoms, and the subject of my last entry). They have since released a sizable body of work both on their own and partnered with other artists, in which they frequently combine classical and folk instruments with sampled effects.

In this piece, titled Wamono (released on their Channel H album in 2005) they incorporate Okinawan folk instruments with some cool beats to create a high energy sound, paired here with a video about a pair of fishermen venturing out into a typhoon.

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Music of the Day: Boadrum, by Boredoms, Live in London

March 30, 2012

Experimental rock band Boredoms (also known as V∞redoms), lead by vocalist and visual artist Yamantaka Eye (who also goes by the names Yamataka Eye, Yamatsuka Eye, 山塚アイ, and eYe, among others) perform their high-intensity percussion piece Boadrum at the Forum London in November of 2010.

Boadrum isn’t so much a single piece as a performance concept, with the drummers and other percussionists each triggering various ambient effects through their motion and playing, with Yamantaka himself adding his own vocals.

Below, they perform Boadrum 111 (so named because of the 111 drummers gathered together for the performance, as well as the fact that the performance took place on November 11, 2011) at Byron Bay, Australia.

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Robots Hit the Beach for Lunar Exploration Training

March 27, 2012

The seaside Nakatajima Sand Dunes in Central Japan hosted several would-be lunar explorer robots and their support teams on March 13 for a public demonstration and training run in a simulated lunar environment.

Aichi University of Technology's LUBOT at Nakatajima

Seven teams from universities around Japan arrived here with their robots after being invited by JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) to come and show off their work. As a follow-up to their Kaguya probe, which took HD images of much of the moon’s surface from 2007 to 2009, JAXA has proposed sending a rover by 2025 to continue Kaguya’s work by exploring the moon’s surface directly, and has been collaborating with universities in creating new rover designs.

The Nakatajima Dunes, just a short bus ride from Hamamatsu City in Shizuoka Prefecture, were selected for their wide expanses of soft, fine sand dotted with large rocks and the treacherously steep inclines that come close to the kinds of terrain the rovers will encounter if they make it to the moon. The high winds and sea spray they experienced on the beach, however, are unlikely to be a factor.

Notable designs include the Track-Walker 2 from  Tohoku University in Sendai, which used multiple caterpillar treads to navigate the uneven terrain by lifting itself over obstacles too big to crawl over.

Tohoku University's Track-Walker 2

Aichi University of Technology brought LUBOT, an eight-wheeled design that features a movable arm for mounting video cameras and a working scoop for gathering samples.  The video below was taken by the students themselves during a test run at Nakatajima last July.

Another design that garnered a fair amount of interest was the Tri-Star IV 3-wheeled rover from Tokyo Institute of Technology. The wheels use a combination of flexible supports and metal claws to navigate uneven and unstable terrain, and appears capable of righting itself if it turns over. According to Professor Shigeo Hirose, it can navigate slopes as steep as 30 degrees, and has mobility at least equal to what the US and Russia have built so far.

 

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Music of the Day: Spiritual State, by Nujabes, feat. Uyama Hiroto

March 23, 2012

Today’s music of the day is Spiritual State, an instrumental ambient jazz-hip hop piece by composer and DJ Nujabes from the posthumous 2011 album of the same name. Fellow DJ Uyama Hiroto (composer of recent Final Fantasy scores) provides additional work on this piece.

 

Nujabes (real name Jun Seba) gained recognition in the international hip hop community for his unique blending of rhythm tracks with atmospheric jazz into serenely meditative creations, and he spent a good deal of time in the US collaborating with American artists.  Sadly, in 2010 he died in a car accident in Shibuya Ward in Tokyo at the age of 36. He left behind a number of unpublished tracks at his Hydeout Productions studio, and after being finished by his friends and fellow artists they were released as this album.

Enjoy.