Intermediatheque is a gorgeous exhibition space at the JP Tower in Tokyo which feels like a cross between a natural history museum and a yesteryear’s cabinet of curiosities. Assembled by the University of Tokyo, the collection is filled with marvelous displays of hundreds of animal skulls, bones, and skeletons, specimens, taxidermy, and models, and includes such items as an Ancient Egyptian sarcophagus, temple fragments that survived the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, 19th-century machinery, typewriters and microscopes, beautiful rocks and minerals, preserved two-headed turtles, and a whale’s jawbone. It is comprised of both vintage and newer acquisitions. For a lover of curiosities like me, it’s a wonder. Besides the interesting specimens, all the display cases themselves are beautifully done. I saw some very lovely and notable bell jars. The aesthetic arrangement of the exhibitions is striking in its own right. The whole space is a unique hybrid of vintage and modern which feels simultaneously spacious, luxe, elegant, eccentric, and quaint, all contributing to make it one of my most memorable experiences in Tokyo. As a plus, admission is free.
Drawing inspiration from manga and children’s picture books as well as psychedelic paintings, Kyoko Aoki, who goes by the artist name Kyotaro, meticulously creates intricate, sinuously flowing illustrations representing unseen or invisible beings. They are wonderfully alive and seem to move with a radiant fluidity. Her work is both delicate and dynamic, full of luminous texture, delightfully rendering “light, deities, beasts, animals, and fairies.”
This enigmatic and hauntingly lyrical short film directed by Adam Csoka Keller, entitled Echtes Leder (“Genuine Leather”), explores themes of death, deterioration, and creation, juxtaposing images of human flesh with decaying objects in the midst of deserted and dilapidated settings. It features a startlingly dynamic score by V. R. Alevizos.
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a first-person, story-based art game developed by The Chinese Room, who also did my beloved favorites Dear Esther and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. Considered a “spiritual successor” to Dear Esther, it takes place in a small town in Shropshire, England in the 1980s. As the unknown protagonist, you follow a mysterious, otherworldly, seemingly sentient orb of light, which guides you through the village and surrounding countryside to piece together what happened to the residents, who have all vanished. At specific points, the orb produces/triggers reenactments of conversations and encounters between villagers which took place there. In addition to these resurrected conversations, you also access telephones and radios throughout the village to hear recordings of dialogue.
Tabaimo’s immersive, haunting video installations delve into the complex contemporary psyche, exploring themes of isolation, anxiety, and malaise. Surreal and a little unnerving, lovely and delicate and nightmarish, they are evocative of traditional Japanese woodblock prints and combine hand-drawing with computer animation. An exhibition of Tabaimo’s works is currently at the Seattle Asian Art Museum.
The Color of Pomegranates is an exquisite cinematic experience, quietly, abstractly dazzling and chimerical. This beautiful avant-garde 1968 Armenian film by director Sergei Parajanov is a non-narrative, impressionistic, and highly stylized biography of 18th-century poet Sayat-Nova. Composed of a series of moving tableaux or vignettes and prominently featuring Parajanov’s muse, the enigmatic beauty Sofiko Chiaureli, the movie is divided into eight chapters: Childhood, Youth, The Prince’s Court, The Monastery, The Dream, Old Age, The Angel of Death, and Death. It has little dialogue, though there are sound and music. Existing almost as pure visual poetry, it extravagantly abounds with surreal, symbolic imagery and is such a distinct piece of visionary cinema.