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21 October 2007

Ninja Coke Machines

From an article in yesterday's NYT:

She said that while her ideas might be fanciful, Japan’s willingness to indulge the imagination was one of its cultural strengths.

“These ideas might strike foreigners as far-fetched,” she added, “but in Japan, they can become reality.”


-- Artist Aya Tsukioka regarding her skirt that turns into a vending machine disguise as a means to thwart would-be criminals. Also available: a man-hole cover purse and a child's backpack that converts to a phony fire hydrant. Photos here.

If it wasn't $800 I think it'd be a great Halloween costume!

Is imagination really a culture strength? Wouldn't the Nikes underneath the vending machine give the disguise away? Are there Clark Kent-worthy phone booths around Japan that would allow one to transform into a soda machine while being pursued? Are we Americans so cynical that we can't see how this bit of urban tromp d'oiel camouflage would work?

While I don't know about the effectiveness of Ms Tsukioka's designs or understand the anxiety about crime in a nation with a very low crime rate, I think her comment about indulging the imagination has some merit. After all, isn't imagination about seeing what isn't obvious, and blurring reality so that it is only what seems to be that is actually seen. Illusion transforms what is into something else.

2 comments:

(un)relaxeddad said...

Oh I think imagination is the great strength of any culture - the transformative nature of Japanese culture through the centuries has managed to keep something unique and challenging despite every huge wave of imported cultural baggage (be that Chinese in Heian times, European in the 19th century (German government and British Railways - wish they could return the favour with the railways now, mind you) and American in the mid/late 20th.

Emily Barton said...

My imagination is giggling over a child-sized fire hydrant. (And BTW, the word-verification I got to post this comment seems very Japanese: hijna. Think that was planned :-)?)