Check This Out: 5 Stunning Art Installations You Have To See

Though I may not be an art buff, I do appreciate my own fair share of museum trips, checking out the different pieces and installations that line the walls and fill the empty spaces.  Seeing how people’s creative minds work is an absolute wonder and often times, puts me, and I’m sure many of you, in awe.

We’re more than happy to say that some of the best and brightest names in the art world are Asian/Asian American, and these following six installations are definitely proof of that.  By challenging our ideas of space, medium, beauty, perception and so much more, they take us to a seeming other world that you simply have to marvel at.

While they say that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” we would have to argue that these pieces are downright gorgeous.

Jung Lee – “Aporia”
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Ai Weiwei – “Forever Bicycles”
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Tokujin Yoshioka – “Crystallize”
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Soo Sunny Park – “Unwoven Light”
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Yayoi Kusama – “Infinity Mirror Room”
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Lorde’s Next Hit Track Is … a K-pop Song?

Well, not exactly.  But, it seems that the 16-year old singer has been hit by the hallyu wave and may be joining the ranks of Teddy Riley, will.i.am, Diplo, Bauuer, Missy Eliott and host of others on the list of non-Korean artists who have worked on K-Pop tracks.

In a recent interview with Clash Magazine, the songstress and writer behind the smash hit “Royals” expressed to branch out when it comes to writing music, mentioning that she’d love to pen a track for a K-Pop girl group.  The reason?  The ridiculously catchy melodies and out-of-this-world, extravagant concepts that have become the hallmark of the genre.  She mentions:

“Girl bands are only cool if they’re so ridiculous it’s awesome, like the K-Pop girl bands with twelve people who rule the country. I’d write for a Korean girl band, definitely – some of their melodies are the best pop.”

There’s more than enough groups that she can choose from — Wikipedia lists a total of 78 current groups — we must admit, that we have a shortlist of acts that we’d love to see her work with (aka Girl’s Generation, 2NE1 and miss A).

Most online readers were open, even excited, for the prospect of Lorde making a crossover into Korean pop:

“Oh my gosh if this happens, I’ll love K-Pop even more!”
“Lorde wants to write music for K-pop? YOU GO GIRL.”
“See even Lorde wants to write lyrics for a k-pop girl group. Yes. Be jealous, haters.”

And there should be reason to be excited.  If Lorde can bring her art pop, minimal electronica sound to the sometimes-stagnant K-Pop sphere, definitely sign us up for a first-listen; it’ll be something to listen to, without a doubt.

 

 

(Source; Photo Source: Billboard)

The Daily SHAG: Nicholas Saputra

Today’s SHAG (Smoking Hot Asian Guy) is none other than Indonesian actor, Nicholas Saputra. One of the most well-known names in Indonesian showbiz today, the Jakarta-born 29-year-old of German and Indonesian descent first garnered attention with his role in the 2002 film, Ada Apa Dengan Cinta? (What Happened with Love?), skyrocketing the then-teenage Saputra into stardom. While he could have gone down the glitzy road of many of his fellow teen idols, Saputra has remained low-key and in the process has become a highly respected actor, starring in internationally recognized films such as Postcard from the Zoo (shown at The Berlin International Film Festival), Janji Joni, (Joni’s Promise), shown at the Sydney Film Festival and Busan International Film Festival, and What They Don’t Talk About When They Talk About Love (nominated for the World Cinematic Drama award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival).

Not only does Saputra have acting chops, but he’s also proven he’s got smarts in the classroom, graduating with a degree in architecture from the University of Indonesia. “Nico” (his nickname) is also an avid traveler (just take a look at his Instagram!); for him, traveling is a way to become more “open-minded,” while also offering him an opportunity for some much-needed and well-deserved privacy.

Handsome, smart and filled with wanderlust? It’s hard not to see why Saputra inspires the lust in us.

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Mistreatment at Airport For Filipina Mom: Netizens Weigh In, Shed Interesting Light on Issue

An incident earlier this week at Seattle’s international airport, which resulted in the deportation of 63-year old Filipina Carina Yonzon Grande (pictured above, center, with future son-in-law Ken Shaw and grandson Josh), has sparked another discussion on the complex matter of immigration.

In an emailed statement sent to Philippine news outlets, Grande states she was on her way to the US for her daughter’s wedding, a trip that would mark her 13th trip to the States.  Upon arrival, was questioned, held (Grande claims without food or water) and later sent back to the Philippines by immigration officials.

Thanks to netizens, the talks surrounding issue have shown a wide variety of opinions.

Some claim the immigration officials were simply doing their job and practicing precaution:

“Bakit alam ninyo na ba ang reason ng kabilang kampo kung bakit nila ginawa yon? Baka naman may valid reason din sila…” [“Why, do you all know the reason why the other side (US immigration officials) did what they did? Perhaps they have a valid reason.” (JosWallace Jao-Farmer, ABS CBN News Facebook)

 

“Sorry po sa na experience nyo dito sa USA pero sa tingin ko may nakita sila sa papers mo na hindi ka talaga nila papasukin very strict sila...if kulang talaga ang papers deport ka talaga......” [“I’m sorry for your experience here in ths US, but in my opinion, they saw something in your paperwork that wouldn’t have let you entered. (sic) They’re very strict...if you have something missing from your paperwork, you have no choice but to be deported.”] (Coppick Pauldel, ABS CBN News Facebook)

Others accuse them of discriminatory behavior, viewing Filipinos as potential TNTs (tago ng tago, a Tagalog phrase for someone who will enter the country and become an undocumented resident or worker), a phrase that Grande claimed they used during her questioning.

“Some US immigration officers think that majority of Filipinos are liars whose (sic) looking for green pasture when they sit put at the mainland with no intention to return to motherland. (Benajmin Escano, GMA News Facebook)

But most notably, there are those that remind us that Grande’s experience is not isolated and reflects a larger issue of mistreatment and basic human rights.

“I understand that the US needs to be vigilant, but there is no excuse for the rude behavior and lack of professionalism. When I see how curt and rude they can be with me, a US citizen, I shudder to think of what is in store for non-natives. (Perlkherst, Reddit)

“Uhm I don’t think the other side of the story is going to be acceptable. We understand the rationale behind their jobs, but however way you put it, maltreatment is not acceptable. Everyone deserves basic human rights. (Katrina Dela Cruz Cacal, ABS CBN News Facebook)

Such comments remind us that immigration issues are ones that affect the entire global community and have a particular bearing and importance for the Asian and Asian American community.  With Asian Americans becoming the fastest growing immigrant population in the United States, incidents such as these undoubtedly raise a red flag for our community.  But not only is this concerning for Asian Americans, it is something that should cause concern on a national and global scale.

Because, as Katrina Cacal mentions, beyond the immigration debate, it’s heartbreaking to think that people, immigrants or not, are being subjected to poor treatment, particularly in a country that has long prided itself in being a place that has opened its doors to visitors and immigrants from around the globe.  While we do not know the whole story concerning the Grande case, as the US Embassy has refused to release a statement and no word has come from immigration authorities in Seattle, that should not overshadow the improper, dehumanizing treatment that Grande experienced.

Notably, this incident comes on the heels of a looming visit by Secretary of State John Kerry to the Philippines, scheduled for October 11 and 12.  The two countries view each other as reputable allies, a relationship that has held strong for years due to the two countries intertwining histories and continuing diplomatic and military ties.  Though Kerry is said to be on the trip to “reaffirm the strong economic, people-to-people, and security links between the two nations,” it will be interesting to see if immigration and tension-inducing issue will be brought up in discussion — US-Philippine immigration was a planned topic for discussion for Philippine President Ninoy Aquino.

But whatever happens, we’re sure the netizens will definitely have something to say.

[Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News)

 

MUST WATCH: 11-Year Old Dances to Lady Gaga’s ‘Applause,’ Is Totally Fierce

11-year old Sean Lew is probably the fiercest Little Monster out there, and we’re sure Lady Gaga would totally agree.

The professional dancer (he turned pro 3 years ago) has 7 years of dance experience, including international performances with collectiveUth and a stint on Glee, so to say that his performance is impressive is a complete understatement.

 

In the video, which has garnered over 335,000 views since being uploaded last month, Sean dances to, or more appropriately, completely dominates, a killer jazz funk piece by choreographer Miguel Zarate at North Hollywood’s Movement Lifestyle studio.  Sean’s precision, passion and obvious talent is completely jaw-dropping and rivals that of dancers twice and three times his age.

Don’t believe us?  Just take a look below!

Beauty Marketers Know When You Feel The Ugliest, Sell You Make Up In Return

A new study by marketing planning agency PHD has identified the prime times during the week when beauty marketers should sell products to women.  Surprisingly (or perhaps, unsurprisingly), they say that beauty ads are the most effective when women feel the least secure about their looks.  Wait, ads that feed on personal insecurities?  You don’t say!

The findings of the “study,” created from survey results, basically show the schedule of women’s attitudes towards their appearance, documenting when women feel the best (Friday nights) and the worst (Monday mornings).  Take a peek at this infographic from Adweek if you want to see more of what they found.

Taking an exploitative approach, PHD recommends that advertisers peddle their products during the start of the week.  As described by Bustle.com, it’s an “Encourage/Empower” approach — encourage the use of that new lipstick, praise them when they buy it.  As explicitly stated in the press release,

Monday becomes the day to encourage the beauty product consumer to get going and feel beautiful again, so marketing messages should focus on feeling smart, instant beauty/fashion fixes, and getting things planned and done. Concentrate media during prime vulnerability moments, aligning with content involving tips and tricks, instant beauty rescues, dressing for the success, getting organized for the week and empowering stories.

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Though the study isn’t exactly ground-breaking (because, let’s be honest, who feels good on Monday mornings?), the simple fact that marketers are being encouraged to use this information to effectively prey on a woman’s negative self-attitude is alarming and problematic, especially in a society where a hyperrealistic standard of beauty has become the ideal.

Because beyond just selling a lipstick or concealer, what beauty marketers are attempting to sell is a supposed means to gain a larger sense of self-worth.  And that, in and of itself, is not empowering in the least bit.

 

Meet Tama: The Japanese Cat Who Saved a Train Station

Walk into the Kishi train station in Kinokawa, Japan, and you’ll be greeted by a station master unlike any other.  She knows little about trains, doesn’t know how to speak Japanese (or any language for that matter)…and she’s a cat.

Tama, a Calico cat, is the adorable station master at Kinokawa City’s train station, and she has single-handedly revitalized the once desolate stop.

The Kishi station was once a financial black hole, with virtually empty trains and losing an estimated $4.7 million a year.  But that soon changed once the Wakayama Electric Railway appointed Toshiko Koyama became station manager.

In 2007, Koyama, who is Tama’s owner, decided to make his furry friend station master, with the simple duty of greeting passengers, a decision that has single-handedly revitalized the stop.  Thanks to the four-legged station official, the station has become its own tourist attraction, experiencing a boost of over $10.4 million, according to some reports.

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And it’s no wonder why folks are flocking to Kishi; Tama is an adorable sight to be seen when she’s on duty.  Decked out in a station master hat and badge, she spends her time in her ticket-booth-turned-office saying hello to the steady stream of folks who visit her during her working hours of 10am-4pm, weekdays only.

Her influence on the area has become so great, that her image has been utilized in every conceivable way possible.  The station has come to house a Tama-themed coffee shop, sells a variety of cat-inspired merchandise (think Hello Kitty, but Calico), runs a Tama train and, get this, has even been remodeled to be in the shape of a cat.

In 2010, she was named Operating Officer, thanks to her contributions in boosting ridership.

In January, her apprentice, Nitama (which translates to “Second Tama”) was named.  Nitama will become Tama’s successor and currently “proxies” for Tama on weekends.

Sources: 1, 2

(All images courtesy of Flickr, Google and The Guardian)

Much More Than Cosplay: Minju Kim Offers a Manga-Inspired Collection for H&M

Though the Isabel Marant for H&M Lookbook has been making waves these past few days, we must admit that another collection has caught our attention.

This fall, South Korean designer Minju Kim will have the honor of having her sartorial creations in H&M stores, after winning H&M’s 2013 Design Award back in January.

The 27-year-old Kim, who studied design at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium (whose alumni include Ann Demeulemeester and Martin Margiela), wowed a prestigious panel of judges with her “Dear my friend” collection, which was influenced by Japanese manga artist Junjie Ito.

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With eclectic shapes, a playful use of color and impressive use of texture, the designs speak to Kim’s distinct vision and fun personality. On the runway, the clothes may seem a bit extreme, but when translated for the masses, they become nothing short of stand-out amongst anything you’ll see in stores this fall.

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“Creating this collection with H&M has been an amazing experience,” says Kim. “My designs are about turning characters into outfits, and it’s exciting to think that these characters will soon be worn by people around the world.”

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The collection, made up of nine pieces and two accessories, is set for release on October 17 at select H&M stores in the U.S., UK, Sweden, Denmark, Japan, South Korea, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany and online. It will also be available at Opening Ceremony in New York, Los Angeles and London, marking the first time that H&M clothing will be sold at Opening Ceremony.

China Loosens Its Grip: Plans To Unblock Facebook & Twitter in Shanghai

The strict firewalls surrounding China’s Internet access may be slowly coming down, albeit in a small section of Shanghai.

As reported by the South China Morning Post, Chinese officials have agreed to lift the firewalls on websites considered politically sensitive by the Chinese government, including social networking sites Facebook and Twitter as well as the online site for The New York Times, in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone.

The lift will only be in a 28.78 square-kilometer (11 square-mile) area intended to let foreign businesses work within the country, which includes the Waigaoqiao duty-free zone, Yangshan deepwater port, and the international airport area.

As it is commonly known, the current Communist Party in China actively censors the Web. Facebook and Twitter have been blocked since 2009 following violent riots in the province of Xinjiang; the government claims the hostility was encouraged on the popular social media platforms. The New York Times has been inaccessible since its report last year on then-Premier Wen Jiabao.

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But why allow the access now when the country — which boasts a total of almost 600 million Web users — has its own, very strong social media platforms (not to mention the use of VPN and proxy servers to access banned sites)? Weibo, a Twitter equivalent, has more than 500 million registered users, two times as many as its U.S.-based counterpart. Renren, a Facebook-like site, has 147 million users and 37 million active users per month.

According to the Hong Kong newspaper’s report, the move is for economic reasons. One source stated, “In order to welcome foreign companies to invest and to let foreigners live and work happily in the free-trade zone, we must think about how we can make them feel like at home. If they can’t get onto Facebook or read The New York Times, they may naturally wonder how special the free-trade zone is compared with the rest of China.”

Set to open at the end of the month, the Shanghai FTZ may expand to include more of the Pudong region, if it proves to be successful.

(Sources: 1, 2, 3)

 

Forever 21 Tweets Their Clothes Are “Straight Outta Compton,” Triggers (Another) Controversy

Popular fast-fashion clothing chain Forever 21 has once again found itself in hot water for tweeting out a photo that some claim is another case of cultural appropriation. On Thursday, the L.A.-based retailer tweeted “straight outta Compton” with a a photo of a white model wearing three different T-shirts referencing the City of Compton as well as hip-hop/rap artists Ice Cube and N.W.A.

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Though the tweet was quickly deleted, it wasn’t long before the image made its way around the Web, eliciting an array of responses. Some were interested in purchasing the clothes:

“(@Kariinaxo) Forever 21 has all these cute WuTang and NWA shirts omg I want them all”

“(@It_Aint__ME) Ooo i want that compton shirt”

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However, such comments were greatly outnumbered by those expressing disappointment and frustration over the new line, being very critical of what they viewed as the inappropriate commodification of African American culture for the sake of business and trend.

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The “Statement Making Compton Tee” and “N.W.A Muscle Tee” are now unavailable on Forever 21′s online retail site, though it is not certain if the controversy surrounding the T-shirts is the reason for their removal.

This is not the first time that the mega-retailer has been accused of cultural appropriation. In 2011, their “Oriental Girl” necklaces sparked a firestorm of criticism.