The Ogaki Report
Details of life at IAMAS, in Ogaki, Japan.
IAMAS was founded about 3 years ago. The director, Prof. Itsuo Sakane, has been
promoting the media arts both in Japan and also internationally for
many years. The school is small, about 100 students, but very high quality
in terms of both its equipment and its people. My understanding is that it was started
by the Gifu Prefectural Government as part of a high-tech inititive to develop the Gifu area.
As you can see from the photo, the old building on the right is undergoing some remodeling (it used to be a girls school) and on the left is a new addition that will be finished in December 1999.
Lying to the left of the new addition, the artist in residence
building is separate from the school building proper. It is almost entirely below ground level
and has a concave roof. Sometimes on weekends the roof seems to be
being used as a sports ground for the local high school boys. I'm sure
as soon as they finish off the roof and remove the sandbags that are
keeping the roofing material from flying off, it will be used for
skateboarding or whatever teenagers do today.
In any event, it attracts a lot of architects and architecture students, who wander bemusedly around on the roof, trying to figure it out.
My studio here is huge, I
think 30 square meters. It'll certainly be bigger than any apartment I
end up getting. The school is connected to the internet with 2 T1s, so
access is quite decent.
I will be working here on my virtual reality project "Beyond Manzanar". Since I happen to be in Japan I can visit Kyoto to study its many famous gardens and tea houses, and collect some books of Japanese Emaki painting in order to scan out the trees, rocks and water to create a virtual garden for the project.
Zara Houshmand, my partner on the Manzanar project, promises to come out in January so we can do some heavy fine tuning of the space together. Otherwise, since I left San Francisco in May we have been working via telephone and Internet in true modern fashion.