Brendan Tang’s “mechanized vases” morph Ming-style ceramics with the biomorphic mechas of comics, manga, anime and sci-fi

Brendan Tang - Ceramics

Beautiful Decay (by Hayley Evans):

Brendan Tang is a ceramic artist who sculpts elaborate pieces that fuse together various cultural imageries and traditions. The series of work featured here, titled Manga Ormolu, can best be described as “mechanized vases”—vases that combine Ming-style ceramics with the biomorphic mechas of comic books and science fiction.

The forms are abstract and futuristic-looking; there are pots and plates with rocket engines, valves, wires, tubes, and more. Some of the creations seem to be caught in the moment of “turning,” creasing ceramic skin to expose the robotic structures beneath. As objects of curiosity and ambiguity, Tang’s works look as unpredictable and otherworldly as they do beautiful and decorative.

The seamless hybridity of Tang’s Manga Ormolu explore contemporary discourses on technology and globalization. Born in Ireland to Trinidadian parents and currently residing in Canada, Tang brings his own diverse background and experience into his work. As his sculptures evolve into unique cultural-technological beings, they comment on how disparate cultural histories are encountering each other in the present-day world—and the speed at which they are doing so. The harmony embodied by each vase-hybrid, however, also seems to signify a unique form of transnational identity: one that overcomes the limitations and demarcations of national borders without losing its sense of culture and history.

Visit Tang’s website and Instagram to view more of his works.

Brendan Tang - Ceramics

Brendan Tang - Ceramics

Brendan Tang - Ceramics

Brendan Tang - CeramicsBrendan Tang - CeramicsBrendan Tang - CeramicsBrendan Tang - Ceramics

“Ghost in the Shell” to hit the stage with a Tokyo theatre adaptation

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RocketNews 24:

Similar to how some of Ghost in the Shell’s characters can slip their consciousness into new bodies, the enduring science fiction franchise has gone through many incarnations. Starting with the manga by creator Masamune Shirow, the enduring science fiction hit has been an animated theatrical feature, TV anime, and series of direct-to-video anime shorts, plus has served the basis for a handful of video games.

The franchise might even end up with a Hollywood live-action version with Scarlett Johansson playing the lead role. Before that, though, Ghost in the Shell is getting a stage adaptation scheduled to be performed in Tokyo.

Each format of Ghost in the Shell has its own tone and series of events, and the stage version will be taking its cues from Ghost in the Shell: Arise–Alternate Architecture, the updated TV broadcast version of the original video animation Ghost in the Shell: Arise,  with its focus on the circumstances leading up to the formation of Public Security Section 9, the department the series’ principal characters are eventually attached to.

Directing the stage version will be film director Shutaro Oku, who also directed plays based on the Persona 3 and 4 video games and is set to direct the stage adaptation of the Blood-C anime this summer.

Handling the script will be Junichi Fujisaku, well-versed in the world of Ghost in the Shell by virtue of serving as supervisor for Ghost in the Shell: Arise and screenwriter for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.

The Ghost in the Shell stage show will open at the Tokyo Metropolitan Theater (Tokyo Geijutsu Gekijo in Japanese), located in the capital’s Ikebukuro neighborhood, on November 5, and is scheduled to run until November 15. Exact times and ticket prices have yet to be announced, but organizers have put out a statement that no live stream or DVD of the performance will be available, so if you’re interested in seeing the world of Ghost in the Shell come to life, clear out your calendar and head to Tokyo this fall.

Twitter introduces #StarWarsEmojis

To celebrate the pending theatrical release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Twitter has partnered with Disney and Lucasfilm to create custom, Star Wars Twitter emojis that will allow users to “show their enthusiasm for the ever-evolving Star Wars universe.” The first three emojis debuted today at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California, with a variety of emojis to be added as we approach the film’s release date including icons of both the legacy characters, as well as new characters from the new installment.

To incorporate into a tweet, all you need to do is post a hashtag representing keywords associated with specific Star Wars characters, and the emoji icon will appear at the end of the text.

Try out #C3PO #StormTrooper and #BB8 now, and watch for more emojis to be released as we approach the December 18 release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

A ‘Star Trek’ U.S.S. Enterprise sushi set that comes with Warp Trail Chopsticks

Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise Sushi Set

ThinkGeek has released a Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise Sushi Set that looks just like the iconic Starship U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 from Star Trek: The Original Series. It comes with a wooden base, the saucer of the ship opens up into a soy sauce dish, and the blue warp trails pull off to be used as chopsticks.

It is available to purchase online.

Uhura has a secret. It’s nothing bad, but it’s just nothing she’s shared with her crewmembers. Uhura loves Argoan sushi. Now, the food synthesizers can make an almost acceptable version, but nothing beats the real thing. And when Uhura can get 100% real Argoan sushi, she has a whole ritual involving how to eat it. And she always, ALWAYS, uses the Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise Sushi Set she was given for her first anniversary onboard.

And now you can have a Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise Sushi Set of your very own. Set it on your table, and it looks like a mid-warp U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 on a wooden base. The Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise Sushi Set is just the thing to elevate sushi… into the final frontier!

Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise Sushi Set

photos via ThinkGeek

Columbia University student Karen Bao debuts science fiction novel

AsAm News: 

Columbia University student Karen Bao’s science fiction novel Dove Arising was published by Penguin Random House in February 2015.
Bao’s story concerns a 15-year-old named Phaet Theta who joins a paramilitary force to save her family.  The story takes place 200 years in the future on the moon. As Bao continues to pursue her career as an author, she finds balancing her undergraduate studies at Columbia University a welcomed challenge.
Bao is part of a growing trend of Asian American women authors and writers such as Celeste Ng, who is the author of Everything I Never Told You. Ng has begun to compile a list of just some of the other Asian American women authors.
We definitely have a lot of stories as an Asian American community, and I think some of us definitely have to speak up and get our work published,” Bao said.
 
To read more about how Bao’s parents supported her writing efforts, click here

Robert Kinoshita, robot designer for ‘Forbidden Planet’ and ‘Lost in Space,’ dies at 100

Kinoshita with a fan-built replica of the Lost in Space robot in 2004.

Kinoshita with a fan-built replica of the Lost in Space robot in 2004

The Hollywood Reporter:

Robert Kinoshita, a production designer and art director who designed the iconic robots for the 1956 science fiction classic Forbidden Planet and the 1960s TV series Lost in Space, has died. He was 100.

Kinoshita died Dec. 9 at a nursing care facility in Torrance, Calif., family friend Mike Clark told The Hollywood Reporter.
For Robby the Robot on Forbidden Planet, Kinoshita cobbled together several concepts contributed by MGM’s art and special effects departments, and made a miniature prototype of wood and plastic. The model, with a domed head of clear plastic, was quickly approved, and Kinoshita completed its construction. The film received an Oscar nomination for special effects.
Kinoshita was in the work pool of 20th Century Fox’s art department in the mid-1960s when producer Irwin Allen selected him to become the first-season art director for Lost in Space, which aired for three seasons on CBS from 1965-68.
Kinoshita’s bubble-brained Robot — a late addition to the cast whose famous line was “Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!” — featured a metallic barrel chest, light-up voice panel and rubberized legs. Kinoshita rushed to deliver the complicated costume shortly before the show entered production. (Dick Tufeld provided the voice.)
The Robot received as much fan mail as its the human cast, and a nationwide organization of fans, The B9 Robot Builders, has built more 100 full-size Robot replicas.
For the series, Kinoshita also modified the Robinson family’s spacecraft, designed for the pilot by Bill Creber, to include a lower deck with living quarters, dining room, lab and Robot dock. He stretched the production budget by creatively raiding props and discards from the Fox backlot.
Born in Los Angeles on Feb. 24, 1914, Kinoshita grew up in the Boyle Heights area. He attended Maryknoll Japanese Catholic School, Roosevelt High School and USC’s School of Architecture, and became interested in the movies, receiving his first practical experience on the 1937 film 100 Men and a Girl.
He and his wife, Lillian, were sent to a Japanese internment camp in Arizona during World War II, but a sponsor allowed the couple to leave before war’s end and move to Wisconsin, where he became proficient in industrial design and fabricating products out of plastic.
Kinoshita came back to California in the early 1950s and returned to the movie industry just as MGM was gearing up for production of Forbidden Planet. In addition to Robby, Kinoshita designed several sets including the lab of Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon).
Also in the 1950s, he also created the robot Tobor from Here Comes Tobor (1957) and worked for ZIV Television on such series as Science Fiction Theater, Highway Patrol, Sea Hunt, Bat Masterson and Men Into Space.
Later, he served as associate producer and production designer on the independent films The Phantom Planet (1961) and Hell’s Bloody Devils (1970) and was a free-lancer on such series as Hawaii-5-0, Barnaby Jones and Gene Roddenberry‘s pilot Planet Earth.
Kinoshita claimed his longevity was due to clean living and daily doses of apple cider vinegar, Clark said. He is survived by a daughter, Pat.
A private service was held on Dec. 23 at Green Hills Mortuary in Rancho Palos Verdes.

A brief history of Hollywood trying — and mostly failing — to adapt anime

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A weird truth: Even in the midst of the current comic book gold-rush, major studios can’t seem to get a good anime or manga adaptation off the ground—although the influence of those works can be seen everywhere. This weekend’s Big Hero 6 is based on a Marvel comic that’s heavily (perhaps even problematically) inspired by anime and manga. As tangentially connected to the art form as Big Hero 6 is, could it be the harbinger of a sea change in Hollywood’s approach to manga and anime?

Tackling this question can be kind of tricky—after all, “anime” and “manga” are styles rather than the names of genres. While works that fall under those umbrella share a general visual language and similar approaches to storytelling, anime and manga tell all sorts of stories—slice of life, romance, mystery, supernatural thriller, action.

One of the reasons it took so long for American filmmakers to even begin considering adapting manga or anime is because of how long it took for the source material to even become popular stateside. The first anime to find success here weren’t the action-heavy, mind-bending sort that would become prominent in the boom years of the late ’80s and early ’90s, but much lighter fare like Speed Racer and Astro Boy in the ’60s and ’70s. But even during those boom years, anime adaptations usually didn’t fare well. For example:

The GuyverOne of the first notable anime adaptations to be made in the US, this 1991 film starred Mark Hamil and was based off the 1985 manga Bio Booster Armor Guyver, by Yoshiki Takaya. Both the film and manga centered on a young man who discovers The Guyver Unit, an alien device that spawns a sort of biological super-suit that an unwitting young man bonds with in order to fight an evil megacorporation (and also alien monsters). The film was panned both for being B-movie cheese and also for straying from the source material’s far darker, more violent story.

A direct-to-video sequel, Guyver: Dark Hero would stay closer to the manga’s more violent roots, but the rubber-suited aliens still left a lot to be desired when compared to the manga’s anime adaptation.

Street Fighter: While not technically based on an anime or manga, Capcom’s legendary fighting game would go on to inspire plenty of adaptations—including the notorious 1994 Jean Claude Van Damme film. There are many reasons why this did not go well, but at least people saw it—unlike the 2009 reboot, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, which you’re probably remembering for the first time right now.

Fist of the North Star: Another hyper-violent action anime received an unfaithful adaptation that doubled as a really bad movie. Here’s clip from that movie. It is very bad. Unless it’s after 2 A.M., and you’re looking for this sort of thing. Then I suppose it’s great.

The MatrixWhile, again, not technically based on an anime or manga, The Matrix represents a watershed moment in how Hollywood looked at anime. According to producer Joel Silver, the Wachowskis pitched him the film by showing him an anime film (according to Wikipedia, it was Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 classic Ghost in the Shell), saying “We want to do that for real.” The 1999 film, with its mix of philosophical science fiction and stunning action scenes, is the closest a major Hollywood release had ever gotten to faithfully depicting the medium of anime. Incidentally, while a large number of anime adaptations would enter development in the intervening years, none would make it to the big screen until the Wachowskis’ next directorial effort, five years after 2003’s The Matrix Revolutions.

The debt that the film franchise owed to anime would be acknowledged in the direct-to-video release The Animatrix, an anime anthology of short stories set in the film’s world.

Stronger: Kanye West’s music video for his hit 2007 single heavily references Katsuhiro Otomo’s landmark 1980s anime film/manga series Akira. Let’s talk a little bit about Akira. Both the manga and the film adaptation are pinnacles of their respective mediums, cyberpunk masterworks that use their dystopian futures to explore deep philosophical and societal quandaries. Critically acclaimed in the U.S., Akira is largely responsible for popularizing anime and manga stateside. A Hollywood film adaptation has been in development hell since at least 2002—the last update came in February of 2014—but don’t hold your breath for it. It’s quite likely that Kanye’s music video is the closest we’ll get to an American adaptation—and maybe that’s a good thing.

Speed Racer: While it was poorly received at the time, the Wachowski’s Speed Racer succeeds by being exactly what it set out to be—a bright, colorful adventure for kids. Which, in turn, makes it exactly like its source material. Unfortunately, the film’s poor critical reception and box office performance very likely served to further stigmatize anime adaptations to big studios.

Dragon Ball: Evolution: Akira Toriyama’s seminal manga Dragon Ball and the anime it inspired, was, along with Sailor Moon, an entire generation’s introduction to the medium. As such, the series is pretty sacrosanct in the eyes of fans—and even if it doesn’t hold up all that well, it retained a certain heart and charm that never really gets old. The film that came out in 2009 had none of these things.

Pacific Rim: Like The Matrix, Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 blockbuster isn’t an adaptation of any particular manga or anime. Instead, it’s a Western take on giant mecha-action epics like Gundam. While it’s a pretty straightforward bit of sci-fi action, it is very, very good at what it does—and perhaps clears the way for the genre’s stranger, more complex fare like Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Oldboy: Spike Lee’s 2013 revenge thriller is an unfortunate case of Hollywood’s inability to leave well enough alone. Originally a 1996 manga by Goron Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi, the story already received an acclaimed film adaptation in 2003 by South Korean director Park Chan-wook—one that’s far preferable to the American version. Which is a shame, because the U.S. cast is pretty stellar.

Edge of Tomorrow: Although it received really good reviews, Edge of Tomorrow didn’t perform so well in the box office. Perhaps if it kept the name of the manga it was based on — Hiroshi Sakurazaka and Yoshitoshi Abe’s All You Need Is Kill—it would’ve been more more memorable to those watching the trailers. But as the latest Hollywood effort in manga/anime adaptation, it’s quite the hopeful note to end on.

[UPDATE — As some readers have pointed out, All You Need Is Kill was originally a novel. The manga adaptation, by Ryusuke Takeuchi and Takeshi Obata, came out roughly at the same time as the film.]

While this list is pretty spare, it doesn’t include the wealth of optioned material languishing in development hell or shelved for any number of years. James Cameron’sBattle Angel Alita is a great example—the director has the rights to make a movie, but won’t even start thinking about that until he’s done with the next ten Avatar films.

But if you’re not too jaded by the number of non-starters, it’s quite possible that we’re now on the cusp of a new wave of quality Hollywood films based on anime and manga. With the previously-noted critical success of Edge of Tomorrow and reports of Scarlett Johanssen signing up for the lead role in Ghost in the Shell, it looks like Hollywood is finally ready to start looking at comic books that weren’t made in America for inspiration. If they do, then movie theaters will doubtless become a stranger—and more interesting—place.