It's not every day you're encouraged to make a spectacle of yourself in an art museum. And in a phone booth, no less. At Trans-Cool Tokyo, a travelling show of 44 works by contemporary Japanese artists - on at the 8Q wing of the Singapore Art Museum until February next year - you can step into a mobile one-man disco housed in a phone booth and dance your heart out for 20 minutes. The booth is equipped with a disco ball, flashing lights, and a pair of headphones to deliver house music straight to your brain. Inside the booth, the dancers can only see themselves in the one-way mirrored surfaces. Those standing outside, however, can gawk at every move, boogie, strut and pose - throwing up interesting ideas about voyeurism, the ritual of clubbing, and social relations. The brainchild of artist Kiichiro Adachi, the portable disco is a guerilla art project dubbed e. e. no. 24. The DIY disco was first set up on the streets of a Tokyo youth enclave, where it attracted the attention of many drunken party people, and the resulting video footage of tattooed B-boys and fly girls bopping along to music in it is screening alongside the artefact itself at the museum. Standing modestly beside his creation, on a recent media tour of the exhibition, Adachi, 30, looks like a surfer dude, with his brown hula shirt and tousled wavy hair. That's a Japanese police car, he says through an interpreter, pointing at a vehicle on the video screen. The police car passes the disco box; the cops think it's an ordinary phone booth. The dancing within continues. The artist smiles. e. e. no. 24 is, in many ways, quintessentially Tokyo, a mix of unabashed hedonism, indulgence, cutting-edge technology, self-enforced merriment and poignant loneliness. The touring exhibition was conceived two years ago by the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo to introduce its collection to the rest of Asia. As its chief curator Yuko Hasegawa explains: 'We wanted to start in Asia first. We thought of a familiar code accepted by Asian audiences. Pop art is very good. So we put together this exhibition.' In her catalogue essay, Hasegawa writes that the title is an appropriation of Tony Blair's Cool Britannia, 'aimed at promoting Japanese cultural software'. On why J-pop culture has stayed cool for so long, she says: 'After the second world war, our country started to contemporise very quickly in the 1960s and 1970s, and our economy was really growing. We have a very strong history of art and craft, the decorative arts and design. We're a highly aesthetical country. Japan is very easily cross-disciplinary. We get our ideas from sub-cultures and design. Not like in Western culture, where high art and low art are distinct from each other.' Anchoring the show are works by heavyweights such as Yayoi Kusama - whose large, three-panel work Star Dust of One Hundred Million Light-Years looks like a fluorescent dream painting, evocative of DNA strands, bubbles and blood vessels - as well as well-known names such as Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara.'Kusama is very important,' Hasegawa says. 'We had to bring somebody who is a symbol, that everybody knows, into the exhibition. Her story is a very individual narrative and she also started in performance. All those elements match the artists we selected afterwards.' That said, up-and-coming artists also offer some intriguing pieces to stir the imagination. The show's poster image - and one of the first works the visitor encounters - is a stuffed deer, meticulously and seemingly magically covered in clear crystal balls. Osaka-born, 35-year-old Kohei Nawa's Pixcell-Deer#17 is inspired by the pixellated images drawn from the internet, but it might as well be a creature out of an enchanted forest. Hasegawa tells of the interesting cross-cultural reception that Nawa's mixed media sculpture got when Trans-Cool Tokyo made its first stop in February this year at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, drawing 30,000 visitors. 'In Bangkok, deer are considered very holy animals. They're a symbol of the gods. So people would put coins on the sculpture, and pray. And we said, 'No, no, no',' she says. Incidentally, that work is also the hardest to transport. 'Crystal bubbles, packed in bubble wrap - something like that,' Hasegawa says with a smile. As a quick overview of contemporary Japanese art practice, the works range from the traditional, pastoral and abstract to high-concept, hi-tech projects. In the former camp is Yoshihiro Suda's Gerbera, a life-like flower carved from wood and placed on a shelf high on the gallery wall. Calling his works 'little interventions' that people don't notice unless they really pay attention, Hasegawa says: 'It's in a way very Zen. He's very Japanese.' Also playing with the boundaries of real and artificial is Haruka Kojin's reflectwo, an installation comprising plucked petals of artificial flowers suspended from the ceiling. From a distance, it looks like a surreal, rainbow-hued landscape, or one of those paintings made by pressing blobs of paint together in a folded-up piece of paper. In the high-concept, hi-tech category are works by Ryoji Ikeda and Kazuhiko Hachiya. Ikeda's data.matrix [no1-10] installation comprising 10 simultaneous projections of random data streams, from 3-D cartography, vectors to scrolling strings of numbers and images. Based on the idea that everything in our environment is now digitised, it is - as Hasegawa puts it - a 'very precise work', exploring the difference between 'microcosmos and macrocosmos'. Given Japan's reputation for creating futuristic machines, the inclusion of a pair of jet ski-skateboard-hovercraft hybrids shouldn't be surprising. Hachiya's Airboard y and Airboard beta are wholly impractical pleasure craft powered, almost ridiculously, by jet engines. As the curator and artist stress: the objective of the work is to take the serious matter of military-grade technology and use it for a silly desire. The artist built the Back to the Future-esque machines because he liked to ski and snowboard, and wanted to do it even in summer. He imported two engines from a now-bankrupt US maker, for about S$12,000 (HK$71,000) each, and funded his research and development out of a cute, popular digital pet software and online game he invented. So far, Hachiya has ridden his Airboards four times, wearing a heat-resistant uniform, for up to 10 minutes each time, in front of an audience. Sometimes, audience members are invited to try the machines, which hover a few centimetres above the ground - but not before signing an indemnity form. The 44-year-old daredevil quips: 'I have a lot of insurance.' More than a vehicle, the Airboards are both sculpture and sound installations. 'The jet engine sound is very nice for me,' says Hachiya. 'It's very loud, but I like the high-frequency noise and want the audience to hear it. It can give you a very high feeling.' Looking wistful, he adds: 'I'd really like to run the jet engines in Singapore. But they belong to [the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo] now.'