Craig Wedren + E#Vax video

Just finished a new music video for the one-off song “Day Ditty”, released by Craig Wedren (Shudder to Think) & E#Vax (Ratatat) for my imprint Mold Recordings.

August 12, 2008

Meeting Modernity exhibition in Los Angeles

Meeting Modernity

The Meeting Modernity series of found photographs is the focus of Néojaponisme’s first traveling exhibition. Recently unearthed outside of the city of Sano in Tochigi-ken, this series of pictures documents Japan as it engaged with modernization and commercial photography in the Meiji and Taishō Periods. The series is comprised of portrait photography in particular.

The exhibition debuts next month at Young Art, a gallery in Los Angeles’ Highland Park.

September 13- October 4 2008
Opening Reception:
Saturday, September 13, 2008 7-10pm

Young Art
747 N. Ave 50
Los Angeles CA 90042

August 11, 2008


Just finished a video for Strategy’s song “Lower Macleay” off of his brand spanking new Audio Dregs album, “Music for Lamping”.

August 1, 2008


While I was in Berlin and Paris, PingMag published a version of an article that I wrote about Kinya and Kao Hanada, a.k.a. Mumbreeze. If you have a chance, hit up Nagi Shokudo in Shibuya to see their current show.

If you have vegan homies visiting Tokyo, Nagi is my pick for the absolute best vegan food in Tokyo. It is also the cheapest and made by the raddest people.

While I am no longer a vegetarian, I tend to eat veggie around half of the time. I watched my previous fave veg restaurant, Ecru in Tama-Plaza, go under due to lack of patronage. I sincerely hope that this doesn’t happen with Nagi. They are in Shibuya, so it’s doubtful that rent is that cheap. Go there. Eat something. They do massive lunch and dinner specials where you will be stuffed to the gills for under ¥1000. And it’s DELICIOUS! They have an awesome drink menu and an English/Japanese zine library, to boot.

They also have an amazing shop section where you can buy books on off-kilter cultural topics like the history of elevators in Japan, zines from all over the world, and some of the best music coming out of the Japanese indie pop scene today.

July 26, 2008


A short video I made for GOOD Magazine is part of the Media That Matters Film Festival, playing globally at present through web streaming, events at museums, and at dedicated theater events. It’s the only animated Festival film, which seems surprising. (It’s not a fully animated video, as there is some footage in there, as well.)

July 26, 2008

Goth-Loli Death Rumors

I heard from a scholar currently researching the so-called “Gothic Lolita” style that (1) no one is showing up on Meiji Bridge on the weekends and (2) interview subjects from the movement are suggesting that the community is rapidly disintegrating.

Any supporting evidence for this?

W. David MARX
July 25, 2008


New interview by the lovely and talented Ms. Selena Hoy over at PingMag. It’s an interview with Patrick Tsai of My Little Dead Dick.

July 4, 2008

psychedelic ivy-covered familiars attack shibuya! then harajuku!

Mumbreeze @ Nagi Shokudo

Mumbreeze are Mumbleboy (Kinya Hanada), a Japanese contemporary artist living and working in Portland, Oregon, and his wife Kao Hanada, a jill-of-many-trades. They have crafted a new exhibition that will debut at Nagi Shokudo, Shibuya’s foremost vegan restaurant and exhibition space for an exhibition that opened on the 30th of June. (Note that Nagi Shokudo is a restaurant and not a gallery, so there will be no official opening, but the artists will be there often during the duration of the show.)

Please do come check it out and also enjoy the delicious food while you’re there! Nagi is a wonderful, sunny place full of ‘zines, great art, and awesome folks! Nagi’s proprietor, Oda-san, will be the subject of an upcoming profile on Néojaponisme. Oda-san has been involved in the Tokyo music scene for a number of years, publishing his zine, Map, and running a really interesting record label, Compare Notes. Compare Notes has put out a ton of great albums, including releases by Gellers, Popo, and Lake. Oda-san also organizes the occasional music festival and solo live event for foreign musicians (Tara Jane O’Neil, Howe Gelb, M. Ward, and others).

Oh, and he cooks the best vegan food in Shibuya, shutting out a handful of competitors in both flavor and price.

Kao @ WALL

Kao Mumbreeze also has a small exhibition at HP France and HaNNa’s WALL space in LaForet in Harajuku that is well worth stopping by to check out.

July 1, 2008

Neojaponisme on Alltop

There is a new Japan page for Alltop, and Néojaponisme is on it. (So is Clast.)

W. David MARX
June 16, 2008

Ainu an indigenous people: Diet

Yomiuri: Diet rules Ainu are indigenous.

Summary: The Japanese government has been instructed by the Diet to officially recognize the Ainu as an “indigenous people” in the sense used in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (press release), to which Japan is a signatory.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura Nobutaka’s statement. Yomiuri assigns to Machimura this English money quote: “The government will strive to work out comprehensive measures [for the Ainu] with the understanding that the Ainu are indigenous people.”

You can read the full text of the “Resolution Seeking to Recognize the Ainu People as an Indigenous People” (アイヌ民族を先住民族とすることを求める決議) here. Meat:

一 政府は、「先住民族の権利に関する国際連合宣言」を踏まえ、アイヌの人々を日本列島北部周辺、とりわけ北海道に先住し、独自の言語、宗教や文化の独自性を有する先住民族として認めること。

二 政府は、「先住民族の権利に関する国際連合宣言」が採択されたことを機に、同宣言における関連条項を参照しつつ、高いレベルで有識者の意見を聴きながら、これまでのアイヌ政策を更に推進し、総合的な施策の確立に取り組むこと。

(Rough summary: The government shall recognize the Ainu as an indigenous people as defined by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples — indigenous to the northern part of the Japanese archipelago and environs, Hokkaido in particular, with a unique language and distinctive religious/cultural practices. Having adopted the UN Declaration, the government shall furthermore seek advice from knowledgeable parties at a high level and develop its existing Ainu-related policies into a concrete, comprehensive strategy for abiding by the declarations provisions.)

Director of the Hokkaidō Utari Kyōkai (“Hokkaido Ainu Association”) Katō Tadashi interviewed on the subject (again, pardon the quick-and-dirty translation):

There are 46 articles in the UN Declaration. What will the Utari Kyōkai seek going forward?

The resolution proposes that the government “seek advice from knowledgeable parties at a high level” (高いレベルで有識者の意見を聞きながら), and in accordance with this we’d like the government to spend a year or so discussing the issue from historical, legal, and other perspectives. At that point, we would like them to sort out what can be done immediately, in the medium term, and in the long term, and proceed based on that.

It is said that the reason the government hasn’t recognized the Ainu as an indigenous people is because they are afraid of demands like “Give us our land back” or “Guarantee us seats in the Diet.”

The Utari Kyōkai has never said “Give us our land back.” When the Law for the Promotion of Ainu Culture (アイヌ文化振興法) was promulgated [in 1997], the policy details were finalized in accordance with the existing domestic situation. We want [everyone involved] to think long-term, not short-term (目先のことを望むのではなく、長いスパンを考えて対応したい).

Yeah, it’s a purely symbolic gesture at this point, and yeah, it may be partly driven by the idea that the Ainu could be used as ammunition in Japan’s ongoing feud with Russia over parts north. But a positive symbolic gesture is better than nothing … right? It’s also got to beat the Japanese government’s previous position, which was that the Ainu were indigenous, and a people, but not necessarily an indigenous people.

Rambling background and commentary in English at the BBC, via an article brought to my attention at Metafilter.

June 8, 2008

sticky, messy, and sweet


hpgrp gallery New York presents “Sticky, Messy, and Sweet”
May 23rd, 2008 – June 21st, 2008

It seems these days that Japanese art is hot or new or one of the next great things. Murakami’s enormous retrospective exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum is an obvious milestone but the range of group shows and smaller exhibitions in galleries through out the city in the past year or two featuring art by Japanese artists have grown exponentially. Curator and Little Cakes gallerist Hanna Fushihara Aron presents her perspective on an under recognized faction of Japanese artists.

“Sticky, Messy, and Sweet” focuses on a particularity found not only in contemporary Japanese art but also in its culture where at first glance things may look candy colored sweet but there are other layers and depths which are opposite to the stereotypically orderly and clean image that outsiders have of Japan. The country being both historically xenophobic and self-conscious has the tendency to hide the unkempt, obsessive, or perverted underbelly. As one example, many have not heard about the growing number of young homeless in Japan. As seen in a recent NHK (Japan’s PBS) documentary, teenage runaways use “Manga Kissa” or “Manga Cafes” as cheap places to sleep overnight. The tiny rooms normally used to surf the net or sit and read comics offer only a lounge chair to sleep sitting upright in. During the day these kids might wear Hello Kitty bottled perfume to hide their unwashed body odor and sport their one and only in style outfit but at night they go back into the world of shadows. Another example can be seen in Mike Mills’ documentary “Does your soul have a cold?” which follows five people living with depression in Japan, a nation where the word for depression has only started to be known widely for less than ten years. Anyone “sick” should not be seen. Anyone with a hint of the sniffles should wear a face mask to protect others from getting sick.

This is not to say that this show is about depressing subject matter. On the contrary, the show is brightly colored and swirls with emotions and spontaneity. The references made were to give an idea of “What is shown widely” and “What is not shown as widely” especially when it comes to what is representative of Japan. “Sticky, Messy, and Sweet” shows other existences and experiences contrary to the slick and commodified or cutesy beyond belief. Although some the participants have graduated from prestigious art schools both in Japan and the United States, the others are more self-taught and could be referred to as being somewhat “Otaku”, fixated on anime or manga or on any other hobby, which in and of itself labels them to be outside the masses.

Some of the artwork in this show physically represents all three adjectives in the title; some a combination of two. Ai Tsuchikawa’s obsessive drawings filled with miniature fishy shmoo characters, rainbow flares and wirls are drawn on taped together pieces of paper, her installations of found objects covered in plastic “slime” epitomizes the idea of “Sticky, Messy, and Sweet”. Yui Kugimiya’s thick and goopy oil paintings cut and sectioned by colorful strands of yarn are gross and cute at the same time. Mumbleboy (pictured above) and Reiko Tada use craft to get sticky and messy. Gunji Yusuke uses scotch tape to put together little plastic bubbles holding drawings as if they were idea bubbles. Chie Fukao uses what is immediately around her like her own bed sheets to make an imaginary rabbit character’s resting area. Akinori Shimodaira uses simple, translucent brush strokes to create his dreamy, blurry, paintings.

With this show, the curator hopes to give a glimpse of another side of the Japanese psyche; one that goes beyond the polite exterior. She hopes to delve deeper and explore the more untamed.

hpgrp gallery New York
32-36 Little West 12th Street, 2nd Floor
(Between 9th Avenue & Washington Street)
New York, NY 10014

Gallery Hours – Tue-Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 12pm-6pm

May 21, 2008

Wordshape fonts on myfonts


MyFonts is now an official distributor of my type foundry, Wordshape’s typefaces. Stroll on by to pick up the now heavily discounted Cooper Black Swash Italic and/or Rubber Vloeren.

Cooper Black Swash Italic is a true digitization of Cooper Black’s swash characters which never made the jump from phototype to digital form. Most designers have settled for using the (IMHO) far inferior Goudy Heavyface swash characters in lieu of the more friendly Cooper O.G. action.

Rubber Vloeren is a digital adaption of Piet Zwart‘s lettering for old pre-linoleum rubber flooring advertisements. The same Rubber Vloeren alphabet was used by Zwart on several other occasions. There’s a showing in Dutch Type by Jan Middendorp of the most spectacular version: a gold-on-blue version on ceramic tiles made for the First Church of Christ Scientist in The Hague when working for the architect Berlage.

May 20, 2008


New sketchbook

I am amped to announce a number of new eco-friendly paper goods I designed for the Tenth & Grant line of paper goods. A few new greeting cards are out, as well as a Moleskine-esque gridded sketchbook with a pattern inspired by Japanese Modern 50s graphics.

Details on the sketchbook:
A handsome dark green on light green web pattern spans the entire front and back cover of this chipboard notebook. Perfect bound with a handy hinge-score, and 144 interior white pages. 100% recycled paper! Printed with soy inks! Perfect bound with a handy hinge-score, and 144 interior white pages. Forest and Avocado – 5″x6.75″ – gridded interior.

See it here.

May 19, 2008

Panda diplomacy with Japanese characteristics

I guess many MのT readers are also subscribed to Itai News, but this pile-on is too beautiful to go unnoticed. Let me break it down:

  1. Ueno Zoo’s last panda, Ling Ling, dies.
  2. Beloved Tokyo governor Ishihara Shintarō says “It’s not like it’s a sacred artifact or anything, does it really matter whether we have a panda or not?” (御神体じゃないんだから、いてもいなくてもいいんじゃないの) and “Look, living things die. That has to include pandas, right? The world’s getting smaller, so if you want to see one go to where they are and take a look.” (生きてるものは死ぬんだから。パンダだって死ぬだろうし。世界は狭くなったんだから、見たけりゃいるとこ行って見てきたらいい)
  3. Panda merchandisers outraged: “Why would [he] say such a thing when everyone loved that panda so much?” asks a woman working at Sakuragi-tei, which sells “panda-yaki”. (Her words are described as a “KY [kūki yome] outburst”. Work it, Yomiuri!) Kono Shinji, “panda sable” vendor, warns that the governor is ignoring the “national sentiment” (国民感情).
  4. 2ch posters outraged at the outrage: “Why should we have to keep a panda just so these stores can stay in business?” “Who are you to decide what the national sentiment is?” I knew those 2channelers were contrary, but damn. They don’t even like adorable, cuddly pandas!
  5. Replenishing the zoo’s panda supply would mean renting one from China, a prospect at which, according to the Yomiuri, the phones at Ueno Zoo are ringing off the hook: “Panda rental is too expensive” (Kobe Zoo is apparently paying ¥100,000,000 per year for their pandas, and not earning it back), “I don’t want to rent a panda from China [because they are oppressing Tibet]“, etc. I note in passing that no proof, names, or hard figures on call volume are offered for this part of the story.

Ueno Zoo must know that they ain’t ever gonna recapture the magic of the 1986 birth of Tong Tong. The Bubble is over, the kids are mopey and don’t go on healthy, sweater-wearing dates to the zoo any more… but pandas are Ueno Zoo’s thing. What else are they gonna do?

May 5, 2008



Tonight in Los Angeles: A celebration of ten years of LOST, L.A.’s primero graffiti magazine, celebrating the anniversary and the release of the new LOST book.

The book contains highlights of the past decade editor/designer EyeOne has spent documenting LA writing. Includes imagery by Atlas (if you haven’t caught the documentary on his work, watch it now!), Pale, Cab, Haeler, and more. Screenprinted board covers, numbered limited edition of 2000.

Even if you are not a graffiti fan per se, the LOST book is a must-have for folks interested in Angeleno culture. More about LOST here.

LOST is a picture-perfect example of designer as author. I’m proud to have written the foreword for it.

May 3, 2008