The whole TAB team was busy making the party run smoothly so none of us experienced the party extensively enough to describe it in its entirety. Thus, we have decided to write this blog entry together. Here are some reflections from the TAB writers and editors.
Every freebie has a tortured story to tell. If you came to the party and you were given a little cupful of nuts or M&Ms, then stop for a moment to consider the effort that went into bringing you that little cup. At least a week before the party, the TAB office was in the grip of a minor ideological debate over how to decorate the venue, and whether or not TAB’s signature pink and blue colour scheme could be incorporated into the free sweets. Do pink and blue M&Ms actually exist? If they do, who’s going to be landed with the job of picking them out from the rest of the packet? Would they get to eat the rest of the colours as a reward for their efforts? And if there’s only a certain number of pink and blue M&Ms per packet, how many packets would we need? Well, in the end, we decided not to discriminate against M&Ms on the basis of their colour and they all got a look in. And we did keep the pink and blue vibe alive with the glow-in-the-dark bracelets that we gave out here and there.
First Quarter of the Party (Lena)
At the stroke of 7pm, the first of the many party-goers to come had gathered at the door, patiently waiting for the last-minute M&M checks and adjustment of speaker volume to end. With Kosuke’s wave of the hand, the party was on. For the next couple of hours, we would see hundreds of art-lovers of various nationalities, accents, shapes and sizes through the door. As the party room filled up, artist Nobumasa Takahashi (who designed one of our new T-shirts) began to draw the first of many illustrations of the night, with the whole process being projected onto a wall. Tucked in between the bar and the DJ booth, Takahashi took in many requests throughout the night – the highlight being a humorous illustration of an old man and a geisha. With DJ Codomo warming up the crowd of early-comers, you could already tell from the buzz in the room that we were in for a great time.
The First Presentation (Ashley)
Standing in front of a projection that lit up a whole wall, Paul and Kosuke then started the first presentation of the evening, introducing TAB’s new line of T-shirts to anyone who may not already have seen them. As you hopefully know by now, TAB recently launched its second range of T-shirts designed by Nobumasa Takahashi, Assistant, Tomato, PMKFA and Tabaimo. As well as presenting the striking design of each T-shirt, Paul and Kosuke showed the diversity of past work by each of the artists and designers. Nobumasa Takahashi introduced himself to the crowd and Megumi Matsubara from Assistant then gave a short speech, offering a free Swedish chocolate bar (picked up during a recent trip to London) to the first five buyers of an Assistant T-shirt. The presentation then ended with a raffle, with five lucky party-goers leaving Super Deluxe with a free T-shirt.
T-shirt Sales (Aneta)
Some time in the second hour of the party we started selling the T-shirts, taking turns behind the counter. Our ‘T-shirt shop’ had been set up within the party space, so it almost felt as though we were just enjoying the event while chatting about our new designs with the guests. My turn came around 10pm and I “worked” until the end of the party, for about two hours. As I had not been directly involved with the design or sales of the T-shirts, I surprised myself with my knowledge about the participating designers and would expound on their works to the potential buyers (like the happy girl on the left), to turn the mundane task into something enjoyable, playful and performative.
Second Quarter of the Party (Ashley)
In between my shifts at the T-shirt counter and the ticket desk, I managed to sit back and enjoy the party for a while. It was great to see so many of TAB’s friends, both personal and professional, turning up to celebrate its second year anniversary. The crowd was full of artists, designers and architects and other familiar Super Deluxe regulars. TAB has established friendly relations with many galleries in Tokyo over the past two years and so owners and gallerists from Röntgenwerke AG, Wako Works of Art, Nakaochiai Gallery, MOTT Gallery and Gallery Juillet among others were there.
The Second Presentation (Lena)
With the party in full swing, Paul and Kosuke launched their second presentation of the night, where they outlined the activities and structure of the TAB website and the people involved. With 150,000 hits a day, TAB attracts big-name advertisements like Diesel, Pola Museum, Esquire Magazine and so on, which help us run and maintain the site. So far, the most popular features of the website include MyTAB, user reviews, the TAB badge, RSS, and TABlog with TAB Video. The crowd whooped and cheered as the two gave an overview of the highlights of the 2 years of TAB, including our move to the co-lab office in early 2006, and our very first exhibition (the DIVVY/dual open-source art exhibition with firefox) in September. The old personal server that ran the TAB site (set up in Paul’s toilet) crashed recently, and Clara is kindly hosting our very fast and reliable server now for free. With newly added features such as the content share notice with Nokia and The Japan Times, the site is growing ever more reliable and user-friendly. The presentation ended with a call for a new full-time staff to help the TAB team (currently 3 paid staff and 15 volunteers) make the website bigger and better.
Third Quarter of the Party (Lena)
After the presentation, Neohachi, a female duo who creates ambient music using ‘shigin’ – the traditional art of reciting poetry – performed some songs. The slow-tempo, organic sounds and the singing style were reminiscent of music from Okinawa, and perfectly matched Takahashi’s geisha illustration in the background. The room was filled with smiling faces and happy chatter – good vibes all around. The crowd was a healthy 50/50 mix of hip foreign and Japanese art-lovers, and throughout the evening people were introducing friends and being introduced, making new acquaintances and opportunities. With their dose of M&Ms and a couple of drinks in their belly, the early leavers slowly made their way outside, shouting “Thank-you!”s to the TAB staff at the door, their faces beaming.
Fourth Quarter of the Party (Aneta)
I attended previous year’s TAB anniversary party and it was the solo musician Game Boy who left the strongest impressions on me. He came back this year with a band called El Salvadores + Shunya Video Boy. While I was taking care of the T-shirt stand, I managed to step away for a minute to snap some pictures of this last live performance of the evening. The atonal sounds of Shunya’s music are triggered by an algorithm in his Gameboy. Last year he nonchalantly plopped himself in the middle of Super Deluxe and played a version of a game that he mutated himself gaining some notice from the thinning crowd; this year he performed a similar gig, but had other members of the band to sync with, including a VJ. I regret not getting to sit and enjoy the band’s corporeal, nearly flesh-cutting sounds along with the visuals.
Packing up (Aneta)
As the last guests were leaving the party, we were picking up the few pieces of equipment we had brought with us: cameras and laptops, while the Super Deluxe staff were moving out the massive, makeshift but smart tables. The M&Ms that Kosuke and Paul had bought and that together we had dealt out into dozens of plastic cups were now long gone; some of us shared the remaining bar of chocolate donated earlier by Assistant, to draw some energy for the ride home.
Finally, we gathered up the tangible product of the evening, Nobumasa Takahashi’s graffiti for the live drawing projection. We pulled the anniversary message-board off the wall – pretty much the only thing we needed to transport – and lazily went out onto Roppongi Dori. The evening was special, not because of any special equipment, but because of the wonderful DJs and VJs, performers and artists who agreed to join us in celebration of the Art and Design world of Tokyo. The attendance was quite high for a Monday evening and to those who made it to the club bringing flowers and wine (perhaps I’m exaggerating here, but we did get at least one bottle) and to everyone who gave us their best wishes, we say THANK YOU!
(Photos courtesy of Nobumasa Takahashi and TAB’s group photo pool on Flickr)