Photography as a form of escapism in Japan in reaction to a traumatic event.
(Traumatic events primarily meaning: natural disasters, wars, inventions, crimes, individual events and the development of technology. Later to be narrowed down)

Why I am researching this:

There are two main reasons, the first is that I have always been fascinated by how the Japanese utilise their arts to escape reality. The second is that to me photography is an alternate reality, much like an artist transforms a blank canvas into it’s a constructed fantasy, a photographer uses light and technology to create their own world to escape into or to allow others to escape.

How I intend to research this:

By not only looking at how Japanese culture uses escapism but also other cultures, America after 9/11, Germany after the War and so on, then I will have evidence for comparison. By looking at key photographers who deal with escapism prior to and after specific events, and also by looking at one of Japans biggest narrative influences, manga, which stories regularly depict the idea of a new world. Photographers who concern their work around the idea of Utopia and interviewing them as to why they feel a need to create this work. Amongst this I will gain the majority of my research through books, with fictional stories, manga, essays and photo books.

Hirohito Nomoto – Facade

Ishiuchi Miyako – ひろしま Hiroshima

Effects of WWII on Japanese narrative and story telling. Announcing surrender after the effects of the atomic bomb.

Effects on other methods of storytelling:

Astro Boy

“Astro Boy also represented the positive aspects of science and technology to a nation only six years on from the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the case for tolerance and openness to others.”

-’500 Manga Heroes and Villains’ – Helen McCarthy 22pp


Katsuhiro Otomo’s science fiction/cyberpunk manga Akira (1982-90) and animated film adaptation of the same name (1988) represent the cultural anxieties of post-WWII Japan, exploring the struggle to find normality in amongst the social and architectural collapse of Neo-Tokyo, to learn that there can be no returning to the pre-apocalypse, only the memories can be accessed through trauma and imagined nostalgia.



However, one could argue that the true date of Godzilla’s birth was not November 3rd, 1954, but August 6th, 1945, the day the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

by John Rocco Roberto






Marc Ninghetto -The Solitude Of A Machine

Overview on that? It wasn’t about escaping during the war it was about creating hope for the future.

This is where my project is at the moment. I am really interested in the effect the atomic bombs had on Japanese storytelling.

Japan’s history was divided into two very distinct and separate categories; ‘before the bombs’ and ‘after the bombs’, or pre- and post-apocalypse.

– by writter S. T. Cartledge http://themanifold.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/rebuilding-neo-tokyo-the-search-for-normality-in-the-apocalypse-of-akira/

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