Japan’s Net Cafe Residents

There’s a sadness in Japan in that land, property, housing, apartments, and almost everything else is expensive. The average cost of an apartment is over ¥2,500 per square meter. (Just over $20 per square meter.) Given an average Tokyo apartment, if such a thing exists, rent can vary from ¥39,000 to ¥125,000 or $321 to $1,028. That may not sound bad until you realize that the size of the apartment is about the size of a room in the average American house.

Rent, food, the cost of living, it all adds up… except when it doesn’t. Many temp workers won’t make enough to afford renting an apartment of their own. Sometimes they’ll get a roomate.

And sometimes they’ll find refuge at an Internet cafe. where they can rent a computer space and live in it. We’re talking about an area smaller than a walk in closet. That’s their home, where they can sleep, eat, watch television, get online, and, hopefully, leave behind.

Va Va La Voog

Back in the halcyon days of the Internet there was this phenomenon based around live streaming your life… one photo at a time. Before broadband was ubiquitous and before streaming video was something you could do at the click of the mouse, there were people who hooked up webcams in their houses, apartments, and domiciles and simply let you look at them. You’d see them doing mundane things like folding laundry. You might catch them masturbating. It wasn’t even a sex show, as you see with today’s cam girl. No, it was just that, at that moment, the person was a little horny and needed some me-time.

JenniCam was a prime example of this, but there were others. One of my favourites to peek in on was Ana Voog, the woman behind AnaCam. The biggest difference between Ana and Jenni is, while Jenni could be seen as a technological concept artist, Ana Voog is a technological performance artist. So her cameras were always a little more interesting to me in that sense, because Jenni was there to be seen while Ana was interested in putting on a bit of a show.

Ana Voog, a woman of letters.
Ana Voog, a woman of letters.

Ana is also a helluva talented musician and I rediscovered her work a couple weeks back when, for no discernible reason, her website popped into my brain. She’s got a wonderful style with a playful, yet almost haunting voice. Back then, you could buy tracks from her site, which was a novelty in itself. Now, you can listen to her on YouTube and other places around the Net. Dig on both of these tracks, especially Telepathic You, a song I’ve found to be incredibly catchy.

Les Jumelles (The Twins) and Cyberpunk Art

I only recently learned of this short work directed by Joseph Kosinski. While it’s an ad for Nike shoes, which is fine, it’s also a helluva cyberpunk universe he creates in just over two minutes. Information walls, minimalist design, and compelling music by TRS-80, this is one of the best ads I’ve ever seen.

And keep in mind that’s coming from someone who fucking hates advertising.

Kosinski has a lot of cred when it comes to depicting the future, too. Besides this awesome bit, he’s also the director of Tron: Legacy and Oblivion. After watching this, it’s easy to see how he got those jobs.

From the Days of the Demoscene

The demoscene isn’t gone, it’s just a bit more underground than it ever was to begin with. After all, the demoscene itself grew out of piracy and bragging screens where a given group would take credit for the cracked programme you were installing on your computer. It soon caught on that you didn’t have to pirate a programme to see a stunning audiovisual presentation on your computer.

So when you dig on this video you might think, “Wow, they did some amazing things with the Commodore 64 back then!” And you’d be right, except that this video was made in 2010. Just like the classic 8 bit sound of chiptunes, the demoscene brings the visual side of retro to the forefront. I love this kind of thing, and hope you dig it too.