Gadgets and Art in Omotesando

Went to the Spiral Independent Creators Festival last Monday and finally took the time to upload a bunch of pictures on my gallery page.

On display were the creative works of about 30 artists, making the first of two groups to be voted upon by the public. I must say I was not really blown by any, though more than a few were worth the trip.

Works ranked from purely artistic to practical design ideas with a bunch of goofy gadgets in the middle.

Apart from a few graphic pieces that could not be given any justice with my crappy digicam, some things that caught my attention were:
Picture CIMG0010.jpgThe Playstation DJ Set-Up (only there as a sponsored product, not really an “independent creator”, but anyway). Although I was expecting the usual slick-but-useless PS2 gadget game, I was floored by the demo the guy gave me.

In a nutshell, the DJ Box presents you with a split screen, on each side of which you can load, play, cue and mess with, any audio track previously saved on the hard drive (an additional HD component is the only special requirement, according to the guy). When tracks are selected and played on each virtual turntable, beats are graphically symbolized by small lines moving vertically, kinda like a conveyor belt. You can either pitch and cue manually or use the autosync, which did a perfect job (at least on the prepackaged, extremely basic samples used in the demo: I’d be extremely curious to see how the beat detector behaves with more serious tracks). So far, quite the minimum you’d expect from any attempt at recreating a DJ setup on a console/computer…

But beyond this, I must say any standard feature I could think of had been covered. Not only did scratch and manual pitch work fairly nicely with the control pad (the two analog paddles controlling each one a turntable), but it also had effects (filters, delay etc) and even a sampler (did not get to play with it though). I thought I had found the flaw when I inquired about the possibility to monitor your mix, since there’s obviously only one audio output on a PS2, but the guy told me you just needed a USB adapter (speaker or headphones, I guess) to get a split monitor on top of the master out.

So all in all, it looked quite impressive, nearly too impressive actually, as I must say the interface did not look anything as easy as it could have (why replace nice easy presets “flanger”, “reverb”, “echo” effects by a single highly configurable but much less intuitive “delay” effect)… I guess that’s part of the game (you don’t want it to look like a wanabee toy, this has to be the real thing). Unfortunately, I was unable to see how it fared with real tracks and real DJing action, but I bet it won’t be long before there’s a bunch of Japanese Otakus out there able to rival Q-Bert with their console.

Picture CIMG0009.jpg Another cool idea, was this glass panel made to look like frosted glass (the kind where the glass seems broken in small pieces) that turned out to be filled with small bubbles. A pipe at the bottom leaked bubbles in the interstice made by two sheets of glass and the result was quite mesmerizing (especially when you realize the trick and start catching the small bubble snaps occurring randomly inside the window).

Picture CIMG0032.jpg Other than that, many minor but nifty ideas, such as these clothes entirely made out of tarpaulin or a project to re-brand Tokyo’s Subway with jungle animals logos for each line…

Picture CIMG0021.jpg Some guy was even showcasing the archives of what was essentially a moblog (keitai pics sent by email and archived online): presented very nicely, but quite far from groundbreaking…

Leave a Reply