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106. Ultraman : Haruo Nakajima + Olympus Pen S
Food Recall
Image by atelier-ying

atelier ying, nyc.

This is a homage to the famous Godzilla actor who also played the monsters in the original Ultraman Tv episodes of the 1960’s. All of us fans who loved Godzilla and the kaiju monsters owe a large debt of gratitude to this wonderful film actor who made these monsters iconic.

A model of a communications tower houses a digitized Olympus Pen S, which shoots through a choice of smoked glass or tinted filters to apply a period look onto the images. This camera came out in 1960, just six years prior to the air date of the Ultraman series.

The film winder concept for a vintage camera is changed to a tower serving table that recalls the later manga innovations of Patlabor and Evangelion, specifically the mobile transport vehicles for the robots in those series. Here this is transformed to a structural framework for Ultraman (the opponent to Nakajima’s monster characters) as the ultimate deified androgynous form for the art of "Body Sushi".

As a contrast, Ultraman himself becomes the serving trolley on rails for a six servings of pre-packaged bar snacks, ready for the heating element at the base.

The radio tower thus looks more like an oil rig or construction crane, dispensing trays of food down for heating and then out onto the ultraman serving trolley reminiscent of conveyor belt sushi bars and a much saner morally acceptable version of ‘nyotaimori’or in this case nantaimori (body sushi) assuming that Ultraman was not androgynous. In any case, the proposed design seeks to strike a delicate balance with my customary use of technology and improvisation as well as taking an artistic aesthetic distance to provide the counterpoint. Herein the humorous elements, the linking of Ultraman to later science fiction history and popular icons of manga all serve to give a lighthearted nod to intimate gatherings of the tv series cast in order to reminisce.

Some technical features:
1. The height of the base provides adequate distance for heat dissipation.
A simple heating element at the bottom makes this tower very similar to ancient brass charcoal braziers and hot water pots in Shanghai many decades ago.
2. A mechanized trolley launches Ultraman along the rails with the cold and hot food.
3. a decorative "scissor stairwell" design at the sides of the tower has wall openings that redirect the heat around the tower to the sides. The house creates a faux kotatsu function for the table guests.
4. This design can only be a portrait camera. The underlying airport theme (the Ultraman science patrol aircraft use a very similar runway) combines beautifully with the glorified airline meal being served from the tower. Note that the tiddlywinks cups and paint pochade were an inspiration for the form, not to be confused with the final design. The Sake set would be more formal and the sketch shows Ultraman’s surfboard and motif as the shape of the serving trays
5. Nakajima gets to control this camera tower outfit with the "Beta capsule" used to transform to Ultraman in each episode of the tv series. This device has a cooking timer and a Director’s Viewfinder to check out the possibilities for any shot.
6. an extra-wide shoulder strap for carrying. The camera outfit’s heft and weight would be nothing strange to the famous Godzilla suit actor.

Lastly, I’d like to have the pleasure to give the improvised Omakase menu for this presentation edition:
1. Sashimi on an tea-infused dry ice "nantaimori" serving tray. This is located at the very bottom of the camera. As each tray is served with the Sake set that is also inside the tower enclosure, the next tray drops down for heating.
2. Matsutake Mushrooms with yuzu in broth. This tray actually is already subdivided into six small cups (like an ice cube tray) and each holds a portion of mushroom and shavings of yuzu.
3. Pre-seared foie gras in a black vinegar syrup. This poesy lifts off the plate by the virtue of the scent of some toasted pine nuts. This particular dish needs minimal heating, it is served slightly warm.
4. Chicken in chestnuts and wine the last three dishes are decidedly un-gourmet, however they are typical Chinese drinking foods so the menu is half Japanese half Chinese.
5. Smoked tofu and freshly shelled peanuts parboiled. The combination can taste faintly like ham.
6. Pork belly stewed in mustard greens, a Shanghai dish. I prefer to serve this with a smear of Chinese mustard.

The above menu starts out with hints, like in a poem and then turns rustic pulling at memory in a different way as the sake begins to work its wonders.

Needless to say, there are other accoutrements that could follow, and Nakajima would probably pull out a small box of Cuban Lonsdales to share and take seated portraits.

This Izakaya tower bar serves 3 to 6 guests.

Design, text and drawing are copyright 2013 by David Lo.

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