Building 640 at the Presidio in San Francisco

Building 640 at the Presidio in San Francisco
Information Source for the Military Intelligence Service Historic Learning Center

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Summer 2012

My name is Paul and I am a summer intern for NJAHS in 2012. I graduated from Castro Valley High School in June, and plan on attending college in mid August. When I first got to NJAHS, I wasn't sure what to expect. It was to my surprise that I would get to meet some great guys. I was able to put on a multicultural youth concert, give walking tours of Japan Town, and even spend less than $20 in a whole day at Japan Town. I've been able to have fun exploring around Japan Town, and learn about Japanese American history as well. I certainly hope more students continue to participate in this program in the future because it's very rewarding.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Critique on Viewing of Secrets Revealed: The Presidio Project - Ken Kaji, 6/1/2012

A  Critique on Viewing of   Secrets Revealed: The Presidio Project
An interactive kiosk a the Visitors Center, Presidio of San Francisco
By Ken Kaji, 6/1/2012

The Exhibit Experience  The kiosk with the secrets visual monitor display was physically adjacent to a connecting space showing a separate video (continuously running) on the various visitor’s attractions located in the Presidio Trust. The story of the First Class of the MIS as part of this history of secrets was deliberately ‘tagged’ as part of the kiosk display.
The Viewing Audience   We ( early attendees) who approached the secrets kiosk were few in number. It is assumed that under normal conditions, the number of viewers may come in small groups or attend as part of a larger visiting group , i.e. a class or workshop.  At any rate, the kiosk is designed to handle at most several individuals at a time. Our viewing experience evoked the following critique, that were put down on paper when our experience in viewing had time to sink in.  Here are some of our thoughts:
Kiosk Design  The kiosk itself, the large family photo, taken by Dorthea Lange, is stunningly beautiful.  The photo mural, roughly 7ft. x 7 ft. captures the mood of the pensive and emotional feelings surrounding the whole aspect of the Japanese evacuation from the West Coast. The background color highlights the prevailing mood by its Corten red steel hue which emphasizes
the feel of forced imprisonment.
Construction  The photomural panel is supported by a frame that is held upright and anchored onto a heavy concrete base that also supports a shelf rack with its electrical connections to the magnetic chips embedded into ‘cards’ that simulate the rectangular prisoner I.D. name tags that were placed around each and every internee during their evacuation.
Neckpiece as coder  By placing the collection of oral histories into a chip inside the I.D. plates and covering it on the back side with an identifying photo and other information, the interview recording, audio and visual, can be transmitted on the monitor screen that is placed in the photo mural.  The viewer selects one of six plates, and places it flat on a blank space that will trigger the transmission.  Furthermore, the sound is deployed in a manner in which the voice seems to be coming from the screen image toward the viewer which contributes to its realism.
Interactive Viewer Experience   The concept is that by having the individual viewer go through this ‘hands-on’ selection process by taking the I.D. neckpiece and making it ‘come alive’ – so to speak – and through that process, that it makes past history more meaningful and more personal.
Issues of Controls/Experience
  1. Densho, (the education-based, computer interactive program on JA oral histories) keeps its selection totally  electronic.  Selection through sorting through a list of names, or a photo data base, simplifies the viewer interactive process.
  1. The kiosk concept could eventually be  transferred to the internet format for selection.
But the idea is  that a ‘hands-on’ experience of interactive viewing can be done this way is questionable.   It is a trade-off.  Today’s and future class room children may prefer ‘physically’ turning dials and personally monitoring outcomes of what they want to hear and view.
  1. If the kiosk is used, it probably will used effectively only when site specific.  It will not be easily transportable  either on-site from on position to another as well as to other sites.  
  1. Pre-load the rack if wooden name tags are used,  and have someone monitor kiosk usage to prevent loss of the expensive tags. If future name tags can be created, then they can be made inexpensively so the loss of such chips is no longer an issue. But cheaper paper electronic tags also move away for the reality of the original wooden neck I.D. tags.  
  1. In the future MIS Historic Learning Center, the Secrets Revealed kiosk will be separate from the MIS story that will proceed it in the viewing sequence of the permanent exhibit, so the MIS story will not have to be part of the  ‘secrets revaled’ kiosk display.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Scanning Isago Tanaka's Photo's - My Last Day - Terry Wong

I have finally completed my primary internship task, which is to scan photos artifacts by Isago Tanaka. I feel a sense of accomplishment and relief. Some of the photos I scanned today have American Indians in them, appearing to protest against cheap land sales. Land was made a commodity since the arrival of Europeans to America. Asian American studies often mention about the Alien land law and various issues related to the ownership of land in America for minority groups. Indeed, similar to American Indians, Asian Americans' land ownership rights were limited and deprecated. I feel that these pictures are evidence that the ongoing struggles for justice and equity in Law for Asian Americans are imperative for us and our children. Because we have to fight for equality for us to have proper consolidated ownership of land and properties in order to raise our offspring and make sure their future is bright and fair.

                                                                                                                   - Terry Wong

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Beauty Pageant - Terry Wong

After I finished scanning the photos today, I realized I came across some interesting candid pictures that are related to the textbook called "True Beauty" that I am reading for my Asian American Study class. These pictures show beautiful Japanese girls shown to be in a beauty pageant of a sort. Some of them actually have banners across their shoulder to waist stating "Miss Cherry Blossom", "Miss Japan Town", representing that they have already won titles or awards. Besides the appreciation for their outward appearance of beauty, I also appreciated the racial dynamics the beauty pageants demonstrated. Asian Americans hosting events such as beauty pageants help promote a racially diverse judgment on beauty. People of all ethnicity can praise the Asian beauty these congenial ladies carry, as well as to embrace it in a larger community. The Miss USA title shouldn't condescendingly link to one's racial background after all. We should focus our community events on a pan-ethnic cultural background for major national events.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Finished My Task - Terry Wong

Just finished my task at NJAHS today. I scanned photos for an event related to a protest of the bombing of Hiroshima in August, 1985. The photos I scanned contain people holding banners saying, "No More Hiroshima!". People look emotional in those pictures and they look determined to get their message across. One of the pictures has a post board with a child who'd been affected by the nuclear weapon. He's shown to be in dire straits and have loss of hair. Once again, I feel a deep sorrow and sympathy at my heart. People shouldn't be like this. I detest wars that bring illness and destruction to innocent people. I seek the day when we no longer need catastrophic weapons of mass annihilation, for the reason that these weapons are destroying our living environments.

                                                                                                                          - Terry Wong

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Fun Day Scanning Photos Taken by Isago Tanaka - Terry Wong

I had a fun day scanning historically significant picture-artifacts dating as far back as during the WWII taken by photographer Isago Isao Tanaka. The pictures in the particular album I scanned vividly represented the strong cultural roots of the Japanese in Americaa back in the past. People were celebrating the "Bon Odori" commemoration in the pictures I scanned. I assumed that it is a Japanese holiday event that consists of parades, carnivals and playing cultural musical instruments. Occasionally, there's a "Hakujin" in kimono in one of those pictures. This shows the harmonious period that these pictures were taken in, as opposed to the war period. Japanese American people were having a blast while enjoying the peace and harmony. These pictures should be preserved for its presented happiness that we as social justice workers strive for.

                                                                                                                  - Terry Wong
                                                                                                                    NJAHS volunteer intern

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Internship at NJAHS - Mika

I have been doing internship at NJAHS for about three months.
Before I came here, I was very nervous because I had never had working experience here in America but I have learned a lot of things more than I expected.

First of all, all the works they gave me were very challenging especially transcription and reformatting. They were the most difficult tasks. I think that's because no body had done that before so I was the first one to find the way to finish. I could manage to do it because other people in NJAHS helped me a lot and they always asked me to how it is going so I felt comfortable to ask them whenever I had questions. They really helped me a lot. I appreciate that very much. When I did transcription, they were mostly about the world war so I could learn how they had life at that time in America and how they survived. Some stories about the camps were very sad but still, I was impressed by how they were strong and managed to have life here in America. It was really interesting for me as a student from Japan.

I still have a lots of things to do before I leave but I feel confident to finish all of them. It is the great place to intern because I could experience like real office work at the company or even more and also I can challenge myself in this organization. I am sure I will make use of these experiences for my future. Thank you so much.