This is my proposal for our end of year symposium. Let me know what you think, and if you have any relevant practitioners I can look at, or if you can help me in any way 🙂
TITLE OF RESEARCH PROJECT
An examination into contemporary (1980-2012) Japanese photography that challenges Japan’s Post-WWII adolescent culture.
MODE OF PRESENTATION SELECTED
DESCRIPTION OF SUBJECT TO BE INVESTIGATED
The main subject I will be examining within my symposium is how Japan’s Kawaii (cute)/Otaku (geek) culture came about as a reaction to the events during and post WWII (including Hiroshima, Japan’s surrender and the peace constitution), and how contemporary photographers are trying to challenge this culture through their work. I define contemporary as being from 1980 as this was around the birth of Art influenced by Kawaii culture and mass consumerism in Japan, it’s also the time the term Otaku became synonymous with a particular group. Defining this time frame allows me to avoid discussing documentary photography post hiroshima and lets me focus on a specific 30 years of culture shift rather than the 70 years since Hiroshima which would be too broad and has been looked at before.
The basis for this idea came from a quote by Takashi Murakami (founder of the superflat movement) “It would not be an exaggeration to say that the American-made constitution prevented the nation from taking an aggressive stance… it cast Japan in the role of a “child” obliged to follow America’s “adult” guidance, and the nation willingly complied.” Recent exhibitions such as ‘Bye Bye Kitty’ have directly opposed the assumption that Japanese art is commercial and cute, and Adrian Favell has given a lecture on the new art movements within Japan, one being a group of women photographers who challenge the role of japanese women in otaku culture and Murakami’s work. Obviously this offers a whole new research project so I intend to use these photographers within my research without focusing on the gender aspect. My background study for this project will consist of analysing the Superflat manifest and it’s practitioners, questioning why photography was rarely involved unless advertising a product? researching more on Kawaii culture and the acceptance of child-like obsessions like figurines, cosplay, animation, comics etc. and presenting and interrogating contemporary photographers work who point out flaws in this culture and are aiming to change the Japanese art scene. I am approaching this debate in a way I didn’t intend, I am a lover of Japanese pop culture and artists such as Murakami and have been for years, my original intent was to explore this culture in reaction to Hiroshima through photography, but I quickly came to realise the only photography involved with the superflat movement is commercial, and that fine art photographers are trying to push through the dominating mass culture production of art and create more politically and socially challenging work. At the moment I consider myself worried that the culture I have so much admiration for holds no place for fine art photography, however this is just a reflection it may have on me personally rather than me as a practitioner, so is something I will avoid swaying my research, it’s just interesting to note it now and see how this changes.
SOURCES TO BE UTILISED
I expect that the main source for my work will be within book and articles. Finding photographers who have directly and purposely used their work to oppose Kawaii culture, rather than finding work and applying my personal reading onto it. I have also learnt that there is an English speaking J-Art expert called Adrian Favell, who has written books, given lectures and made videos on Murakami’s work as well as the anti-Kawaii art. I will interview him and any other people I find relevant to do so, including at least 1 photographer. At the moment exhibition catalogues seem to be providing me great quotes and insight, so I will continue using these, as well as Films, Newspapers, TV programmes. Any qualitative source I can find. The broader my method of research the greater knowledge i will gain.
METHODS TO BE USED IN ACQUISITION OF SOURCES
Using the Coventry University ‘locate’ system, I will broaden my resources from just photography but other applicable areas. In terms of interviews I wish to understand whether Murakami’s theory on Japan using the child state of mind as a reaction to WWII is something they have experienced and agree with, whether they believe that superflat has had it’s time and needs to let less commercial art forms like Fine Art photography have a say on cultural matters, also whether they agree with Kawaii cultures view on the world or if it’s just shallow. A difficulty will be the language barrier, as I am looking at Japanese practitioners and don’t speak any Japanese. Another difficulty might be that I find no one else agrees with Murakami and that they believe photographers had a big part of the superflat movement, It wouldn’t ruin my project, but it would mean some re-considering and researching would be in order.
METHODS/FORMS OF INTERPRETATION/ANALYSIS TO BE USED WITH THE INFORMATION AND SOURCES
I will organise my data through categorising the areas I want to talk about and placing each practitioner’s, theory or interview into each area, I will then analyse how much information I have and how much more I need to get.
PLAN/ SCHEDULE OF WORK
November – Researching, create contact with people to interview, write interview layout for each individual. More background researching.
December – Conduct Interviews, Continue background research, provide an overall analysis, trying to break it into categories, work out from that what’s missing, research missing areas. Filter down research to key points and artists to go in symposium. Start writing Symposium.
January – Finish writing first draft symposium early on, proof read and re-write at least twice. Write final symposium & make power point, work out how I will best remember it, full text, notes, symbols. Rehearse Symposium over and over.
February – Rehearse Symposium. Do symposium.
Adrian Favell, 2011. Bye Bye Little Boy.[online magazine] Art in America: Brant Publications. Available at: http://www.artinamericamagazine.com/features/bye-bye-kitty/ [Accessed on: 5/11/2012]
Jill Connar, 2011. Japan’s New Breed: Bye Bye Kitty. [online magazine] Art in America: Brant Publications. Available at: http://www.artinamericamagazine.com/news-opinion/news/2011-03-29/bye-bye-kitty-japan-society/ [Accessed on 5/11/2012]
Lucy Birmingham, 2011. Bye Bye Kitty: The Dark side of Art in Japan. [online magazine] Time entertainment: Time inc. Available at: http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,2069261,00.html#ixzz2BMS825iw [Accessed on 5/11/2012]
Adam Millar, 2011. An Editorial: The bomb in popular culture. [online magazine] axiom magazine. Available at: http://www.axiommagazine.jp/2011/08/06/an-editorial-the-bomb-in-popular-culture/ [Accessed on: 2/11/2012]
RoyalTevent, 2008. Tokyo Tremors. [PDF] UCLA. Available at: http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/soc/faculty/favell/RoyalTevent.pdf [Accessed on: 5/11/2012]
Murakami, Takashi., 2005. Little Boy. London : Yale University Press.
Holborn, Mark., 1991. Beyond Japan: A photo theatre. London : Barbican Art Gallery, in association with Jonathan Cape.
Murakami, Takashi., 2000. Superflat. S.l. : MADRA
Admin, 2011. NYAB The event – “Bye bye Kitty!!! Between heaven and hell in contemporary Japanese art” Exhibition. Gaia Gallery. [blog] 7th April 2011. Available at: http://www.gaiagallery.com/artists-self-representing/prints/contemporary-prints/nyab-event-bye-bye-kitty-between-heaven-and-hell-in-contemporary-japanese-art-exhibition/ [Accessed on: 5/11/2012]
The Kawaii project, 2012. The kawaii project.[blog] Available at: http://kawaiiproject.tumblr.com/ [Accessed on: 3/11/2012]
Lawrence Eng, 2012. The Politics of Otaku. Digital Melodies of Dispair. [Blog] October 28th 2012. Avialable at: http://digimero.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/the-politics-of-otaku.html [Accessed on 3/11/2012]
ARIELAMAZING, 2010. Britney Spears and Takashi Murakami collaborate for Pop magazine. The Vine. [Blog] 25/8/2010. Available at: http://www.thevine.com.au/fashion/news/britney-spears-and-takashi-murakami-collaborate-for-pop-magazine/ [Accessed on: 3/11/2012]
Mark Stevens, 2005. Toxic Cuteness. New York Art. [Blog] 21/5/2005. Available at: http://nymag.com/nymetro/arts/art/reviews/11707/ Accessed on 3/11/2012
rwpick, 2010. Pop Psychosis: the Influence of the Bomb on Superflat Art. Post Bubble culture. [Blog] 19/4/2010. Available at: http://postbubbleculture.blogs.wm.edu/2010/04/19/pop-psychosis-the-influence-of-the-bomb-on-superflat-art/ Accessed on: 2/11/2012
Ryoko Suzuki, 2012. Ryoko Suzuki Website. [website] Available at: http://www.ryokobo.com/ [Accessed on 3/11/2012]
James hamilton Butler, 2012. JHB. [website] Available at: http://www.jameshamiltonbutler.com/jhb-gi [Accessed on 3/11/201]
Number 1 Gallery, 2012. Number 1 Gallery. [website] Available at: http://www.number1gallery.com/exhibition-item/otaku/ [Acceseed on: 3/11/2012]
Publication available on website:
John Roco Roberto, 2000-2003. Japan, Godzilla and the Atomic Bomb. the History Vortex. Available at: http://www.historyvortex.org/JapanGodzillaAtomicBomb.html [Accessed: 2/11/2012]