The future of ICC “Art x Communication = Open!”

As you know, the great NTT ICC space has been dormant since the end of their last show in December 2005. For a while it seemed that they would close down permanently in the face of dwindling visitor numbers and budget cuts.

In Oddly Enough by Paul Baron 2006-02-04

 However, it seems that one of Tokyo’s best art/design space may finally be saved, if their latest press release, dated 2nd February, is to be trusted: “NTT East has been reviewing the future activities of its cultural facility “ICC” given the significant changes in telecommunication technology, which is profoundly linked to ICC’s activities. […] With “communication” as its [new] core theme, ICC aims to encourage the dialogue between technology and the arts by utilizing the resources available at NTT group’s disposal and be a facility open to one and all where people and information interact freely. Furthermore, the center also aims to become a base for building a prosperous society in the future by passing along the outcomes of ICC’s activities widely to the society. “

There you go! My top2 venue in Tokyo is not closing its doors.
But I am left wondering what has really changed from its previous concept. I think that the dialogue between technology and the arts and the facility open to one and all where people and information interact freely sound like great plans but already there were more than 18 side events organised around their last event in december, so why did the space almost close its doors?

Well, I, for one, didn’t hear or read about any of those 18 side events, did you? Sure you can find the schedule on their website (bilingual+post-event pics!), but I really think that those events should be made more accessible, so normal (non-geek, non-artist, non media-art student) people feel invited, and then you need to provoke and challenge those people… Otherwise you end up with a great, free, but empty (or silent/sleepy) forum.

Another example hinting in that direction: last year’s most popular event (by far: 23,000 visits instead of the usual 10,000) was Maywa Denki‘s fantastically non-sensical show, one very accessible, very funny and hands-on (great workshop) show full of un-geeky, un-arty, un-pretentious interactions.

So please ICC, bring on the monthly (bilingual) meetups (not “talks” and outside of regular schedule) with media art students from all over Japan and artists, (bilingual) hands-on workshops by international media wizards in town for couple days who can try to transmit in plain, simple words the excitement of their work to un-educated crowds, the (bilingual) live internet broadcasts (archived and viewable at any time even after the end of the show), the (bilingual) blog with news snippets and interviews, newsletter etc…
More than a showcase space, or a historical review, ICC must take on the role of the great educator, moreover, educator for the un-educated; what people need is not another echo-chamber, nor another catalogue! People wanna learn and have fun!
So, bring it on! You have all our support!

Paul Baron

Paul Baron. Born in 1977 in Paris. After graduating in 2002 from the London College of Communication, he moved to Tokyo to taste Japan's powerful visual culture. After 3 years at Honda R&D as an interaction designer and his 2004 launch of Tokyo Art Beat with Olivier and Kosuke, he now works as a usability and information designer at AQ, a Tokyo-based design & web agency. After-hours, he enjoys holding on to his rapidly fading unofficial title for biggest visitor of art exhibits in Tokyo and baking all sorts of cakes in his new Ikea kitchen. » See other writings

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