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Noboru Tsubaki Workshop -- The Veterans of Mito
Part 1 -- Feb. 25 (Thu) to 28 (Sun)
Theory Seminar: "Space Geezer Akira -- Enjoying an Electronic Body"

Part 2 -- Feb. 28 (Sun)
Public Lecture: "Paradigm Shift -- The Year 2002 Coming into Range"

From Feb. 25 to 28, the Contemporary Art Center of Art Tower Mito (ATM) is proud to put on a workshop, entitled "The Veterans of Mito," treating new approaches to the relationship between senior citizens and society.

The work of organizing the seminar as general program director was entrusted to the contemporary artist, Noboru Tsubaki. Tsubaki takes a lateral view of the problems facing modern society, particularly that of deepening specialization and isolation -- the state of living next to each other without ever coming into contact. His theme is to propose hints to make people interrelate, thereby breaking through this hardened situation by laying it bare.

In the first part, entitled "Space Geezer Akira -- Enjoying an Electronic Body," Tsubaki uses a sophisticated animation system to demonstrate state-of-the-art image production. In the second part, "Paradigm Shift," a symposium will be held with guests from the fields of language, mathematics, art, and information.

Workshop Details
Dates Feb. 25 (Thu) to 28 (Sun), 1999
Part 1: Feb. 25 (Thu) to 28 (Sun)
Theory Seminar: "Space Geezer Akira -- Enjoying an Electronic Body" (Participation limited to 15 people)

Part 2: Feb. 28 1:30-4:00 p.m.
Public Lecture: "Paradigm Shift -- The Year 2002 Coming into Range" (Capacity 300 people)
Location ATM Conference Hall
Sponsor Contemporary Art Center, ATM
Planning/Organization Noboru Tsubaki, artist
Tsukasa Mori, curator, Contemporary Art Center, ATM
Technical Support Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT)
Software Support NK-EXA Corporation
Printer Support EPSON, Inc.
Machinery Support Nihon Intergraph K.K.
Direct your questions to E-mail: akira225@arttowermito.or.jp
Snail mail: Contemporary Art Center, Art Tower Mito, 1-6-8 Gokencho, Mito-shi, Ibaraki (Zip-code 310-0063)
Telephone (029) 227-8120 (Mr. Mori, outside of Japan dial +81 29-227-8120)


Part 1: Theory Seminar, "Space Geezer Akira -- Enjoying an Electronic Body"
Using the advanced animation system, "Houdini," developed by Side Effect, Inc. (Canada), Tsubaki will demonstrate state-of-the-art image production. Participants will have a chance to experience the fusion of philosophy and science through the new language that has been developed to enable us to carry on a dialogue with electrons. That language lies in the deeper part of the world that supports various popular culture forms, such as arcade games and special-effects movies, which are seemingly superficial. In the seminar, teams of three people each will breathe life into a character. In the process of giving that character human feelings and expressions, the participants will have a chance to experience the concepts behind the programs that control electronic culture.
The seminar also aims give participants a taste of the aims of 21st century electronic culture, without being bound to the more immediate goals of learning how to operate a computer and how to use software. In the midst of a network, it also lets participants discover where the communications revolution -- which began with the Internet -- is headed.
Dates Feb. 25 (Thu) to 28 (Sun)
Location ATM Conference Hall
Eligibility Participants must be 60 or older, and must have previous experience using E-mail (although experience using 3-D animation is not necessary). Only people able to attend the entire period will be accepted.
Number of participants: 15 (once this number is reached, no more applications will be accepted)
As the workshop will be carried out with five teams of three people each, applications by groups will be accepted. Once an application has been made, the names will be included in an Internet mailing list.
Also, participants will be asked to prepare a picture story or essay in advance, dealing with the theme of "What I wanted to tell my children."
Application Procedure Please call the ATM Reservations Center at (029) 225-3555. Applications are already being accepted.
Successful applicants will be charged ¥40,000 ¥20,000 for the seminar, which covers the cost of the workshop tuition, the get-together party fee, and the lecture fees for both Citizens' Lecture #4 and the Public Symposium. Not included are the cost of transportation to ATM or the cost of accommodations during the workshop.
Payment should be made within one week of the date of application, in person at ATM or by post office money transfer. Failure to make payment will result in cancellation of the application.
Lecture Staff Noboru Tsubaki (artist)
Naoji Taniguchi (programmer)
Tomo'o Shimomura (system engineer)
Sora Matsumoto (graphic designer)
Workshop Environment The software used in the workshop is Houdini, developed by Side Effects Software, Inc. of Canada. In March 1998, the firm won an Oscar for visual effects for its 3-D animation system that was used in such movies as "Apollo 13," "Independence Day," "Contact," and "Titanic." Each participant will work on his or her own Nihon Intergraph TDZ 2000 GL2 computer, and all the computers will be linked via LAN to the Internet.



Part 2: Public Lecture, "Paradigm Shift -- The Year 2002 Coming into Range"
Expert guests from the fields of language, mathematics, art and information will participate in this symposium, focusing on the theme of "Paradigm Shift." They will look at the upcoming 21st century, debating the kind of critical mind set needed to adapt to the new age, and whether or not it should be continually updated.
Date Feb. 28 (Sun) 1:30-4:00 p.m.
Location Concert Hall ATM (Capacity 300 people; free seating; hall opened at 1:00 p.m.)
Panelists Yasuo Tanaka, author
Yoshihiko Namikawa, professor of mathematics at Nagoya University
Noboru Tsubaki, artist
Moderator Junjiro Takahashi, professor of environmental information and executive director of Keio Gijuku
Fee ¥500
Tickets can be purchased at the ATM Ticket Counter on the day of the lecture.
Noboru Tsubaki Workshop -- The Veterans of Mito



Detailed Program

Feb. 25 (Thu) Guidance
Part 1: Theory Seminar: "Space Geezer Akira -- Enjoying an Electronic Body"
3:00-3:15 p.m. Introduction
3:15-4:15 p.m. "Art Armageddon" (The Universe of Computers and Art)
-- Screening of Houdini-produced imagery and private works
4:15-4:30 p.m Break
4:30-6:30 p.m. "Getting Acquainted with Computer Hardware and Operating System"
-- Explanation of basic hardware setup and OS Windows NT 4.0
6:45-8:00 p.m. Get-together Party

Feb. 26 (Fri) First Day of Practical Exercises
10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Exercise 1: "The Designs of Leonardo Da Vinci" (Particles)
-- Hands-on experience of the struggles of the Renaissance -- the era when natural science was revived -- through the particle exercise of physics
12:00-1:00 p.m. Lunch
1:00-3:00 p.m. Exercise 2: "Life in the Swamp" (Layered Structure & Modeling)
-- Make life using "electronic clay," aiming to understand the layered/stratified structure of the Houdini bio-browser
3:00-3:30 p.m. Break
3:30-5:30 p.m. Exercise 3: "The Secret to Being a Man" (Animation)
-- Impart human-like movements to wooden blocks and fish using various animation methods, including pass-inverse cinematics
6:30-8:00 p.m. Citizens' Lecture #4: "The New Senior Citizen, Supporting the Future"
Lecturer: Reiko Bungo, Chair of Elderhostel Association
-- Attend a lecture in the Citizens' Lecture series, which concentrates on the theme of the spirit of creating and enjoying art

Feb. 27 (Fri) Second Day of Practical Exercises
10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Exercise 4: "The Hirosue Effect" (Camera Work)
-- Explore the mutually interactive process of "seeing" and "being seen," changing the world in an attractive way
12:00-1:00 p.m. Lunch
1:00-2:00 p.m. Showing of "Harmony of the Universe" (Java, VRML)
-- With each computer linked to the Internet, participate as a "planet" and interact with each other in Shimomura's virtual society on the server at University of Southern California (USC)
2:00-2:30 p.m. Break
2:30-6:30 p.m. Exercise 5: "Digital Puppet 2" (Completion of Interactive Animation)
-- Each team breathes life into a puppet, combining the actions of laughing, crying, napping, and getting angry
6:30-8:00 p.m. Break
8:00-10:00 p.m. Club Activities
1) Go-getters Group: For those insatiable participants who want to add texture, mapping and rendering (rendering done throughout the night, and print-out made on a giant ink-jet printer the next morning)
2) Fun-lovers Group: For those mad fanatics of network battle games (with expert gamers invited); advisor: Noboru Tsubaki
3) Quiet-seeking Group: For those who just want to rest at the hotel

Feb. 28 (Sun) Third and final day of practical exercises
10:00 a.m-12:00 p.m. Demonstration of completed projects
12:00-12:30 p.m. Ending: "Human Interface" (Lecturer: Noboru Tsubaki)
12:30-1:30 p.m. Lunch
Part 2: Public Lecture, "Paradigm Shift -- The Year 2002 Coming into Range"
1:30-4:00 p.m. Lecture (seating begins at 1:00 p.m.)
Location: ATM Concert Hall (Capacity 300 people; free seating; hall opened at 1:00 p.m.)
Panelists:
Yasuo Tanaka, author
Yoshihiko Namikawa, professor of mathematics at Nagoya University
Noboru Tsubaki, artist
Moderator: Junjiro Takahashi, professor of environmental information and executive director of Keio Gijuku



"Space Geezer" Project in Art Tower Mito by Noboru Tsubaki

Concept Sheet

Osgood-Schlatter Disease occurs in the form of knee-joint pain among young people undergoing puberty, as their skeletal frame is undergoing rapid growth. For young people who are just starting to enjoy various sports in earnest, it comes as a very tough experience to learn that they have to rest at a time when they can move their bodies around at full strength. But looking at things in the long run, gathering up the nerve and taking it easy during this period promises the ability to partake in future activity, as well as more balanced and beautiful growth. The gentle rebound phenomenon that accompanies such rapid growth is also found in the growth of plants and animals, and even in the formation of the universe: a ubiquitous principle, as a matter of fact. That phenomenon supplies organs -- unable to catch up with the natural instinct to move forward -- with relief.

The many difficulties experienced during the 20th century, particularly the inability of people's mentalities to keep pace with the rapid technological progress occurring at a global level, have resulted in a severe malfunction of the family, schools, corporations, society, and nation-states down to the smallest degree. In consideration of that fact, we ought not to pursue the construction of new things willy-nilly at the start of the 21st century, but should instead take another look at the mismatched "bone setting," as it were, of a whole range of things, from the family to the nation-state. We have to muster up the courage to alter the bad habits of organizations that cling to existing privileges, and exchange the inappropriate parts with better ones, thereby ensuring a more efficient management of our wisdom and resources. The next generation will only arise from those groups that are able to lighten their load and reassemble themselves under new algorithms, and will fail to emerge from organizations that irresponsibly and ignorantly try to impose their plans as they race toward the future.

For the sake of the future, the time is now upon us first to fill in the uncertain blank that is budding behind us. The paranoid complex that comes with the advance of technology must be removed from each of our mentalities, alleviating our excessive impulse to reject things on account of ignorance -- saying " I don't know." We must stay away from those people who use technology as a tool to maintain their superiority over others, while inviting those who use technology to sustain a dialogue with others.

I, Noboru Tsubaki, am an artist. The museum serves as a production focus for new visions, and is also a kind of laboratory. While some principle-based attempts are taking place across the land, with alliances undertaken between different regions, it is truly the role of the museum and the artist to offer radical new prototypes, and not just to serve as a factory that repeatedly portrays the same dull landscape. If we misunderstand that reality, the various "organs" giving rise to new paradigms will suddenly lose their luster, causing the innovativeness and richness of regions to sink into the morass of mistaken egalitarianism.


The Purport of the Workshop

In prewar Japan, the community based on the extended family did not make workers at the prime of their lives -- whose job it was to advance the group -- engage directly in the education of young children. As they were too busy for that, the main responsibility for educating children lay with the older people of the community, who had retired from the active world of work. With their rich experience, they imparted their wisdom to the younger generation, forming the basis for their growth. However, in postwar Japan, that kind of community education has collapsed. Although many reasons have been posited for that, it would be a bit too simplistic to ascribe it merely to the renunciation of parental education by so-called "corporate warriors" -- i.e., fathers who spend the whole day in the office slaving for their companies -- or to housewives' having taken up more part-time work. Instead, the root of the collapse is the view blithely created by bureaucratic thinking that takes senior citizens to be somehow "bad" or "worthless," as people whose role in life has ended and therefore ought to be thrown away. It is the runaway thinking of a political system that has relinquished sincerity in its consideration of the future, and which forgets to respect those of us who came before us.

Nowadays, the only time that senior citizens ever meet young children in an educational venue is when they relate and pass down the accumulated store of culture of a certain region, including the production of wooden toys and ceramics. The reality of the situation is that both children and society in general have come to think of older people as only able to speak about the past. While it is obviously important to pass along rich cultural traditions, it is equally as important to ensure that people in their retirement -- most 65-year-olds still have a good 15 years ahead of them in terms of average longevity -- come to regard their "golden years" as a new point of departure. Instead of feigning disregard or unconcern when watching their grandchildren play computer games, why don't they try to play with them? Wouldn't it be wonderful if they could explain the latest Hollywood special effects to their grandchildren by attempting to recreate natural phenomena through artificial language and mathematics, such as put together by Houdini software?

Our age is witnessing the proliferation of channels on cable television, and everyone has become familiar with personal computers now that Windows is commonplace. The Internet has accelerated the emergence of the information superhighway, and we are now experiencing the fusion of the real and the virtual worlds for the first time in human history. I feel a sense of humble wonder and joy in being alive in such a mysterious and wonderful age. In partnership with the young, skilled programmers whom I have assembled into a unit for this project, I would like to welcome workshop participants to the mania of our age, as I introduce (and produce) the process of story production played out in the virtual world.

At this juncture, the Japanese Ministry of Education is planning to introduce a new curriculum into schools by the year 2002 called "comprehensive learning," as it agonizes over the decline of creativity and individuality wrought by a twisted egalitarianism. As I stated at the beginning, a new value system and consciousness must be developed in the 21st century that revolves around industries that give rise to a sustainable environment. But what do we see now? We see people who have lost all functioning capability because they are discriminated against as "old." We see computers that are installed but which do not live up to their potential because they are used only for word processing. We see teachers who don't even have the chance to become aware of new paradigms because they are so caught up in the daily rat race of instructing students. If teachers don't know what to do with the new "comprehensive learning," and instead fall prey to immediate temptations, chances are that it will all end up as banal and insipid as English conversation schools, putting all the effort to waste.

The "Space Geezer" project, I hope, will shine light on the essence of the digital universe born out of artificial language in its profundity, demonstrating a sort of elegance that speaks to people contaminated with superficial information.

In Japan's Tokugawa Period (1603-1868), there was little consciousness of time as an irreversible axis. That meant that people like Hokusai (the Ukiyoe artist) and Gennai (scientist) were always chasing after the latest fashions. Growing older to them connoted the acquisition of a rich database of intellectual behavior that expanded in inverse proportion to the increasing decrepitude of the body. Won't you take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime chance to master the "fashion" of the 21st century and lord it over your grandchildren, and in the process gain their respect? Won't you "strike back" and once again become the center of enjoyable community education? Won't you imitate Sen. John Glenn and fly off into the unknown reaches of outer space?


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Copyright 1999 Mito Arts Foundation. All Rights Reserved. Created by Team TK.
Mail to: webstaff@arttowermito.or.jp