History: The Sony building, designed by Japanese Architect Yoshinobu Ashihara, was opened in Tokyo 1966 and thus has become a Ginza landmark. Today, an example of Postmodern architecture, it is established as an information center for Sony products and services, and shares their technology with 5.6 million visitors a year who can gather in 8 floors and 3 basements.
Comment: My picture shows a row of sunflowers in front of the Sony building during rush hour. The visitor can sit down on a bench amidst the flowers and have his picture taken, or just rest. He may feel spoiled by the surrounding ‘nature’ while the viewer’s perspective allows an even more symbolic impression by putting the visitor on a par with the flowers as continuous replenishment for the high powered business environment.
History: The first nuclear attack in human history on August 6, 1945, killed 140 000 people in Hiroshima, Japan. The radius of total destruction was about one mile with resulting fires across 4.4 square miles. Infrastructure damage was ninety percent of Hiroshima’s buildings being either damaged or completely destroyed. The ‘Prefectural Industrial Promotional Hall’, which was only 150 meters from ground zero, survived as a ruin. It was designated as a ‘Unesco World Heritage Site’, now known as ‘Atomic-Bomb-Dome’.
Comment: The shape of two trees next to the ‘Dome’ resemble the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic explosions and their mushroom clouds. Spring’s artificial fresh green and the white radiation of the midday sun on the tree tops compliment each other. One man’s metaphor is another man’s reality.
History: ‘To-ji’ is the tallest wooden tower in Japan (187 feet/57 meters). Originally built 1212 years ago in Kyoto as a Buddhist temple of the Shingon sect, its 5 storied pagoda was one of only two temples allowed in Japan’s then new capital. To-ji (East Temple) previously functioned as a temple providing protection for the nation and is still a symbol of Kyoto today as well as an oasis of calm and spirituality amidst city life. Recognizing To-ji’s historical significance ‘Unesco’ designated it ‘World Heritage Site’ along with other Monuments of Ancient Kyoto.
Comment: My picture shows how the leaves of a tree take over the place of the tower in the viewer’s eyes and mind, leaving the spirituality of each thought connected to a different leaf.
History: Kinkaku-Ji (Golden Temple) was originally built in 1397 to serve as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. After his death in 1408 it was converted into a Zen temple. The temple was burned down twice during the Onin War and again in 1950 by a fanatic monk. The present structure dates from 1955. A new coating as well as gilding with gold-leaf, much thicker than the original coatings was completed in 1987. Kinkaku-Ji (Golden Temple) functions as a dedicated hall, housing sacred relics of the Buddha.
Comment: The size of the tree in front of the Golden Temple could be determined differently by each viewer due to the possibility of an optical illusion.The viewer of the sacred relics stored inside the temple may experience a similar feeling by trying to determine their significance.
History: The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea is considered one of the last vestiges of the Cold War. It is 155 miles long and 2.5 miles wide, and with 2 million soldiers on both sides the most heavily armed border in the world. The Joint Security Area (JSA) in Panmunjom is the only portion of the DMZ where North and South Korean forces stand literally face to face (Coordinates: 37° 57’ 21.6” N, 126° 40’ 36.5” E). Next to them a Watch-Tower is located on North Korean territory.
Comment: My picture shows the view across the border from South to North Korea at the JSA (Joint Security Area) of the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone), probably the most dangerous place on the planet. However, even before I removed the ‘Watch-Tower’, the North Korean side’s planted vegetation, which immediately captures the viewer’s attention, appears more to resemble the euphoric look of a gated community than of a prison bristling with weapons.
History: Karl-Marx-Allee is a monumental socialist boulevard built by the German Democratic Republic (GDR) between 1952 and 1960 in East Berlin. Today the boulevard is named after Karl Marx.The boulevard, previously named Stalinallee between 1949 and 1961, was a flagship building project of East Germany‘s reconstruction program after World War II. It was designed by the architects Herrmann Henselmann, Hartmann, Hopp, Leucht, Paulick and Souradny to contain spacious and luxurious apartments for plain workers, as well as shops, restaurants, cafés, a tourist hotel and an enormous cinema. The boulevard, which is 89 meters wide and nearly 2 km long, is lined with monumental eight-floor buildings designed in the so called wedding cake style, the socialist classicism of the Soviet Union. On June 17, 1953 the Stalinallee became the focus of a worker uprising, which endangered the young state‘s existence. Builders and construction workers demonstrated against the communist government, leading to a national uprising. The revolt was quashed with Soviet tanks and troops, resulting in the loss of at least 125 lives. Later the boulevard has been used for East Germany‘s annual May Day parade, featuring thousands of soldiers along with tanks and other military vehicles to showcase the power and the glory of the communist government. De-Stalinization resulted in the renaming of the street,this time after the uncontroversial founder of Marxism, in late 1961.
Comment: Painters of past times dealt repeatedly with images of alleys lined by rows of trees. The resulting tunnel vision allows two parallel lines appearing to intersect harmoniously in infinity. In Karl Marx Boulevard, remaining traces of social achievements have been removed from our collective awareness, leaving behind the 21stCentury’s version of virtual reality.
“Art is not a mirror to hold up to society, but a hammer with which to shape it.” –Berthold Brecht
History: Rodeo Drive, the famed shopping center in Beverly Hills, California, is known throughout the world as the epicenter of luxury fashion. Rodeo Drive stores span three city blocks where visitors can stroll 100 world renowned boutiques. The shopping district -as presently constituted- was developed in the 1970s. It runs from Wilshire Boulevard to Santa Monica Boulevard and is a major attraction for locals and tourists alike. Rodeo Drive’s ambience extends to glamorous shopping parlors on streets that lie a few blocks in either direction.
Comment: Floating free in space lets us overcome our body’s physical realities. Rodeo Drive’s aura creates a similar feeling in many visitors. The perspective of my picture is aimed at the viewer’s subjective reaction. It grasps his emotional response to a viewpoint seemingly elevated to a multidimensional level of reality.