Born in 1940, Katsumi Asaba is one of the most important Japanese designers in the world today.
He has been designing for more than 60 years, playing ping-pong for 40 years, and mastering the art of calligraphy for 20 years.
This exhibition showcases a selection of Asaba’s typographic posters that explore different visual languages from around the world. One of Asaba’s goals has been to forge a connection between contemporary graphic design and ancient writing systems. His principal area of expertise lies in the pictographic Dongba script used by the Naxi tribe from Lijiang in the Yunnan province of southwest China. It is the last living pictographic script left on the planet.
Asaba has played table tennis competitively around the world. He holds the title of sixth degree master in table tennis from the Japan Table Tennis Association. His art direction has changed the visual representation of the sport itself. He is responsible for changing the colour of ping-pong tables from dark green to blue and the ball to yellow. He is the ambassador for ‘Solo Ping Pong Diplomacy’, which has led him to play in more than 30 countries. Many of Asaba’s posters record his playing of the sport in extreme situations, including a frozen lake in Hokkaido and a floating ping-pong table in Israel’s Dead Sea.
Katsumi Asaba’s invitation to play in New Zealand is the Asaba Table – an interactive sculpture designed by Dean Poole. It sees the standard ping-pong table reinvented as one-part science experiment, one-part musical instrument. In this table ping-pong balls levitate out of voids; it can also return a shot or spit a ball out at random. This table is not only a surface for a collaborative performance, it is an object that becomes a participant in the game, with a spirit of its own.
The sound generated by ball and bat gave the sport its name, ‘Ping-Pong’. This onomatopoeic origin is further extended in the Asaba Table with a spectrum of unique sounds produced when it is played. Asaba often exclaims ‘Zukyuun!’ as he hits the ball, a uniquely Japanese expression describing something being ‘hit through’, and this too has been incorporated into the table.
The Asaba Table is not only a participatory object; it is also a metaphor for collaboration. Table tennis is a form of two-way communication between sender and receiver, across borders and cultures. It is a conversation between two parties, of call and response. Asaba believes that ping-pong and design are similar. “Don't let your mind get cluttered. Just hit what comes to you.”
Open to all Semi Permanent ticket holders.
RSVP email firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday 10 August
Venue: Object Space
13 Rose Rd, Grey Lynn
6pm – late
The installation will run for the duration of August
8th Aug 2018