Through RSS feeds, Twitter, Facebook, email, we’re exposed to more about our world everyday than ever before. Not just the stuff the local paper feels worthy of printing, but news on a whole myriad of topics, curated by ourselves to match our interests. And, so, every now and then, I find myself with more tabs open, more things I want to share, than I really have time or energy to devote full posts to. So, it’s time for another Quick Links.
*Science Daily reports on a new way to date silk. Rather than using carbon dating techniques, which apparently require the destruction of more material than we are usually willing to spare from, for example, a priceless ancient Chinese ink painting, the new technique dates silks based on the deterioration rate of the amino acids, or proteins, which form the silk. Scientists used the technique on a number of already-dated objects ranging from a Warring States period (475-221 B.C.) Chinese textile to a 19th century Mexican War flag, to establish baselines for the rate of deterioration, against which newly tested objects can be compared.
*Japanese fashion/textile artist Izukura Akihiko will be enjoying a show at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and simultaneously at the Linekona Art Center downtown, in January-Feburary 2012. I’ll admit, I’d never heard of him before, was not at all familiar with his work. But, local Hawaii-based fashion critic Paula Rath has put together a beautiful blog post giving us a glimpse at what we can look forward to.
*The Asahi Shinbun reports that the 1570 Battle of Anegawa fought between a combined Oda-Tokugawa army and the allied Asai and Asakura clans, may have been much smaller in scope than previously believed. The battle features several giants of Japanese history – namely Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu – or, at least, their troops (I’m not clear on whether Ieyasu and Nobunaga were there in person; such fine details of Sengoku battles are not among my strong points), and has been, like most major battles, romanticized and fictionalized and retold numerous times over. Some sources give army size numbers in the 15-20,000 range. Whether this is realistic, I don’t know. But, at some point soon I hope to actually read the article, and see what it has to say.
*The Honolulu Academy of Arts has just announced on its Facebook page that from now on the museum will be allowing photography! This is a wonderful turn of events. Now I can go and record the images that I find most beautiful or interesting, and be able to come back to them again, to remind myself what I saw, remind myself which artists to look into… Take photos of gallery labels and save myself the time copying them down by hand in the gallery.
The museum does specify, however, that “No photographs or videotapes may be reproduced, distributed, or sold without written permission from the museum,” which seems a pretty standard disclaimer. Except that I remain unclear as to whether a blog such as this one – or uploading photos to Flickr – counts as “personal use” or “fair use” in some other way, e.g. “educational use”, or whether, on the contrary, it counts as “reproduction and distribution” and is thus not allowed. Having photos for my own study and such will be wonderful, and I look forward to being able to take some photos for that purpose. However, being able to freely share those photos in a context such as a blog, or on Flickr, without worrying whether it counts as fair use, that’s the next important step.
*UK newspaper The Independent reports on analysis of skeletons of people who committed suicide after the 1333 siege of Kamakura. Thanks to further discussion of this article on the Samurai-Archives forums, I am reminded and able to put it together that this is talking about the Hôjô clan “harakiri yagura” or “suicide cave” which I’ve actually seen, in Kamakura. Check out the article, and the discussion thread on the Samurai-Archives forums for more.
*The building housing Japan Society, built by Junzo Yoshimura in 1971, the first building in NYC to be designed by a Japanese architect, has just been officially named a “landmark” by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.
I love that the article acknowledges that some might call it a “modernist box.” This is more or less the same terminology I use to criticize countless buildings I see, the style of which I just have no interest in whatsoever. But the appealing thing about the Japan Society building is that it’s not purely that; it’s not purely a modernist box, but it’s a modernist box with enough touches of hints of traditional Japanese architecture that it’s actually interesting and (somewhat) attractive, and not simply just another of more of the same. Personally, I would prefer to see more buildings that much more closely resemble truly traditional-style machiya, rather than just recalling it in an otherwise very modernist form. But, unattractive though it may be, at least on a conceptual level, the Japan Society building, as it is, represents the fusion of traditional and ultra-modern that is contemporary Japan.
*I’ve just come across an old blog post from a blog called Edwardian Promenade, discussing the modern history of women’s dress in Meiji Japan, more specifically, the adoption of yôfuku (Western garments – dresses, corsets, bustles, hats etc.) and the transformation of the furisode, kosode, and various other kinds of traditional Japanese garments into “the kimono”, a newly defined “national costume” for a newly defined Nation.
The post is wonderfully detailed, including lots of dates and such, and describing ways in which the kimono, or the way it is worn, changed in this period. I bet you didn’t even know the kimono changed at all – it’s so traditional, after all, right? Unchanged? Hardly. Like so many things held up as symbols of “traditional Japan” today, the kimono, like tea ceremony, underwent dramatic changes in the Meiji period. Evangeline, the author of the blog, goes into great detail about the way the kimono, and Western Victorian fashions, created different silhouettes, and their relationship to ideas of ideal beauty.
*Finally, there’s apparently an ongoing controversy about the relocation of a writing hut where Roald Dahl did a lot of his writing. The hut, in the garden of his home in Buckinghamshire, is in desperate need of repair, or it might not last another year. There is a plan, therefore, to move its contents – pens, pictures, balls of yarn, his La-Z-Boy, all kinds of things, to the Roald Dahl Museum. However, the museum claims that it will cost £500,000 to move, and more importantly, conserve, all of these objects. I think, if I’m not misunderstanding, the £500,000 also includes the costs of designing and building new museum displays to construct an exhibition around the objects.
Yet, there is apparently some public outrage over the idea that the museum, and Dahl’s family, should be asking for help raising the £500,000 when many allege that Dahl’s widow could (and should) just pay for it entirely herself, out of pocket, from the vast riches she earns off royalties and book sales and such.
Well, that’s it for now (phew!). Sometimes those links just really add up. I look forward to your thoughts, comments, and feedback. Sayonara for now!