HAWAIIAN CONSCIENCISM with Linda Tuhiwai Smith on May 2, 2013 at UH Manoa. She spoke on activism, feminism, culture, difference,...
After 666 comments, a friend of mine was kicked off Metafilter. That was ten years ago. He told me his old screennames over drinks a...
WATASHI TO TOKYO explains:
We call useless buildings, architecture, and objects “Thomasson.” This useless door, useless stairway, useless wash stand, useless wall, and impossible parking lot are all examples of Thomasson. Thomasson was named after Gary Thomasson, who played for the Dodgers in the US, and then joined the Tokyo Giants in 1982. In Japan, he had a mountain of strikeouts, and Japanese people called him “a human windmill.” He left Japan a year later without any success. Then someone started calling useless stuff “Thomason.”
From Big in Japan:
In the early 1980s, Genpei Akasegawa and some of his students encountered this useless staircase in Yotsuya, Tokyo. He recalls how taken they were by fact that it had “no entertainment, no utility, no ornamentation”. It appeared to be a mistake, since capitalism shouldn’t allow for such pointlessness. It had the form of a staircase without the function, and they decided that a staircase leading nowhere was in fact no longer a staircase. It was, by virtue of its new obsolescence, art. Hyper Art, to be exact: art that was made without any artistic intent. Art made by the city.
They set out in search of more architectural relics where planned utility had given way to accidental futility. This was as the crazed bubble economy was blowing up and Tokyo had money bursting out of its eyeballs: the built environment was in a constant state of redevelopment and flux. Akasegawa formed the Street Observation Science Society in 1986 with a group of students and Professor Fujimori Terunobu of Tokyo University, with the express purpose of seeking out the city’s inadvertent useless leftovers that were ready to be elevated to Hyper Art.
To label these urban vestiges, they settled on the name ‘Thomassons’ after the American major-league baseball star who played for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan. Gary Thomasson famously had a perfect swing, but never managed to touch the ball. In Akasegawa’s words, “he had a fully formed body and yet served no purpose in the world … It was a beautiful thing.” He was living Hyper Art; like the superfluous stairs they had christened le stairs pour le stairs, he was an inversion of Louis Sullivan’s modernist credo that form follows function. They were also pleased to find that if one wrote Thomasson’s name in Japanese characters it spelt the word for Hyper Art.
* Also it’s the first time I’ve bought a book via the internet and the confirmation email asked me if I am related to other Kohs, who are in fact my cousins! Kaya Press! Friend of Kohs everywhere.