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The ICC and Tokyo Opera City Tower

The ICC (Inter-Communication Center) is an NTT-sponsored new media museum, located in the branny new Tokyo Opera City Tower at Hatsudai station one stop away from Shinjuku station on the Keio New Line. The ICC's web site is here.

Before going into the building, here we are looking back at Tokyo City Government Towers.

The Opera building is spectacular -- I didn't see any opera there, but it's about as nice a post-modernist building as you can get. There's this gorgeous covered atrium that stretches all the way through the block. Opera no, atrium yes
Seven memories If you look really closely, there are glowing LED numbers embedded in the sidewalk out in the atrium. They're the first ICC exhibit you run into, and their changes are supposed to have something to do with the way pedestrians interact with them. After awhile of studying them, all I can say is that they seemed random rather than interactive to me.

(above) This is from one of the first installations I saw when entering the ICC, and it was actually one of the nicest. It's "Seven Memories of Media Technology" by Toshio Iwai, and consists of seven of these glass-topped specimen boxes. The glass is touch-sensitive, and when you poke it the glass reflects a movie (off of an overhead, concealed monitor) thematically related to one of the seven media technologies (photography, television, radio, etc.). This one is for phonograph, and the bright blue band is a waveform. When you touch it, the waveform starts propagating around the circle, going aropund a bunch of time before dying away. The seven parts of this installation were all simple, but reasonably fun, things like that.

Artwork © Toshio Iwai

in-floor timeline

This wasn't very high-tech but was a really good idea. The display is just a static timeline of media history, but it's under glass in the floor. It's fun to walk around staring through your feet!


The ICC had Karl Sims' "Galapagos" installed, which is a great piece. I've seen it before, so didn't take any pictures.

About a month after visiting Japan, for unrelated reasons, I got to visit Karlsruhe Germany, where the sister instituion of the ICC (the ZKM) is. The ZKM is also a new media museum, and has been around longer than the ICC.

To be honest, after going to the ZKM I felt like I knew what a good one of these museums is like -- the ICC pales by comparison with the ZKM. I will note, though, that several of the installations at the ICC were closed when I was there.

Juggling Sculpture


This was absolutely my favorite piece in the ICC. It's called "Juggler" by Gregory Barsamian. When you walk in to the viewing area, it's loud with a throbbing sound, and you see this figure -- made out of glowing flat metal straps (!) -- standing there juggling several small indistinct objects. Replicas of him, doing the same thing, fade away on either side. After about five minutes of operating, the piece shuts off so you can see what's really happenning.

It's a strobed sculpture. The figures are all mounted on a huge (20' high, 15' dimaeter) cylinder of steel bar which spins. As it spins, the strobe light flashes at the right frequency to cause you to see a single figure standing still juggling. I realize it may not sound cool to read about, but trust me on this one, it's cool!

Artwork © Gregory Barsamian

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