Coming up: Yamanote Stories at Pecha Kucha Coventry

Tomorrow I’m one of the presenters at Pecha Kucha Night Coventry, this time in turn part of the Japanese Cultural Festival being run by The Tin Music and Arts.

This means entry is free and there’s karaoke afterwards should you so fancy it!

Using an edited map to navigate around Tokyo

I thought the Japanese theme would be a good excuse to look again at a project I did back in 2006: Sites of Potentiality Guidebooks: Yamanote Line. 29 not-quite-random walks in Tokyo looking for Interesting Things.

PKNCov regulars may remember the Invite Boredom presentation Paul Conneally talked about a year or so ago:

Pecha Kucha Coventry | Vol 8 | Paul Coneally from MINDRIOT PRODUCTIONS on Vimeo.

This is very much a precursor to the Invigilator project and probably sets the scene for most of my practice since then!

See you at the Coal Vaults at 7pm.

Contents May Vary, issue 2

Contents May Vary

Just before I left for Canada I received a big envelope full of copies of the Contents May Vary publication I had some work included in a while ago.

I’ve now got more that I could ever possibly need for my archive purposes, so if you’d like a copy let me know and I’ll send you one.

two kinds of tents

2 done, only another 27 left to go.

Yamanote Line platform jingles

I swear I was looking for a font when I came across this site with sound files of all the jingles played just before Yamanote trains depart from the station.

Here are a few tasters:

Meguro (clockwise)
Shinagawa (clockwise)
Takadanobaba (anticlockwise)

I don’t know why yet, but I’m sure this will come in useful one day!

Yamanote Stories


Checking the feasibility of telling the SoPG: Yamanote stories whilst travelling in between stations on the Yamanote line.

SoPG: Yamanote, revisited

With one thing and another I’ve been spending a lot of time recently working on different aspects of the Sites of Potentiality Guidebooks series.

As well as developing projects to keep pushing the format in new directions, I’ve been looking at how best to present last year’s Yamanote Line project.

Although most of my documentation at the time was done via photography (and a couple of dozen of rather nice tickets – man! I love that silky black finish on the back!) I really don’t want it to turn into some sort of photography project.

So far I have 2 possible solutions…

The first is a website style format where selected photos are presented alongside bilingual word-pictures of each walk. It’s good in that it goes some way to convey the sense of journey and experience, but I feel it’s still quite a passive mode of consumption.

I’m carefully describing them as website style because I’d choose to display them under very particular conditions where I can control the appearance. Normally I’d be a lot more inclusive with my web design, but this is me in prima donna control freak mode. So there.

To aid the feedback process though, I’ve uploaded the pages for the first day’s walks so you can have a look here. A change-log can be found at the bottom of this page.

The pages were designed to be viewed in Firefox (available here) with all navigation bars removed, in full screen mode and at a screen resolution of 1024 x 768px.

[Internet Explorer does its own thing and adds in a load of visual elements I don’t want ranging from vertical scrollbars through to blue borders around images. I’m PC-based, but a quick test in Firefox for Mac suggests there may be slight issues with variations in the positioning of the text. YMMV]

Here’s a screenshot of what I see. (Click for larger version)


Solution 2 is performance based:

The time taken to do a complete circuit of the Yamanote line by train is about an hour. With 29 stations that’s a couple of minutes per station. Or, alternatively, a couple of minutes per walk.

During off-peak times, I think a carriage on a Yamanote line train would make the perfect venue for a presentation of the project: in sync with the different locations as myself and my audience (a mixture of pre-arranged and incidental) travel from station to station.

Here’s a draft version of how it might sound…



We shall not cease from exploration…

  • The found translation for the T.S. Eliot quote:

    We shall not cease from exploration
    And the end of all our exploring
    Will be to arrive where we started
    And know the place for the first time.

    has been changed from:


  • queue-jumping

    In preparing various proposals etc over the last few weeks, I looked again at some of my photos from SoPG: Yamanote Line.

    In particular, these ones of queues outside a restaurant in Ōsaki:

    Oosaki queue

    Oosaki queue

    I’ve resolved that next time I get a chance to work in Japan, I’m going to develop a project that relates to the time spent in these queues. I’m sure it could be a good forum for some exchanges. Being in the queue could be the the raison d’être for being in the queue. Perhaps others in the queue could recommend other good queues to be in…

    Ansdell mirror sequence

    Can you apply the old sculpting trick of looking at things in a mirror (to get a more accurate view of what they look like) to an entire street?

    Woodlands Road reflected:

    Yamanote days

    I have now embarked on a tour of Tokyo.

    My guide is a map from the back of a gallery postcard, with all the labels surgically removed.

    map debris

    My starting point is every station on the Yamanote railway line.

    map book

    I’ve been doing it for 2 days now, and I’m halfway round. I don’t know where the map will take me, but there’s always something interesting to be found at the other end…

    Update: this became the Sites of Potentiality: Yamanote Line project.

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