Character development: Fifth element

When I think about character design for my protagonist in my final piece one existing character comes to mind. Leeloo from fifth element is the perfect example of a deadpan (not emotionless but glazed over eyes, surreal, uncanny) character who is “an outsider” and has difficulty interacting with our world. Also fifth element as a whole, the concept of the future and the character design really inspires me to be as imaginative and creative as possible.

Another character who inspired me doesn’t play a big part, but the fifth element fans seem to love her. Zorg’s receptionist.

Both characters are meticulously planned, down to the colour of there eyelashes. This is how I want my character to be, colour co-ordinated to create an identity or a brand with every single hair in the right place, doing the right thing. This is just an initial brainstorm of influences, but i’m sure LeeLoo will have a big impact on my final piece.

This fan made video shows the best bits of Leeloo from fifth element:
Video by TheViva11

RPG and Virtual Reality

I have this urge with this project to produce something really technologically advanced, the one down side, I have no idea how to build software or electronics. Or even how to go about finding someone who does, and get them to do it for free.

Recently I have been watching an anime about an RPG. The first season of ‘Sword Art Online‘ see’s the creator of a virtual world release only 10,000 copies of the game, and once logged in you cannot log out. It’s his way of playing God. Also unlike normal RPGs once you die in the game you die in real life too. The series sees almost 2 years of the game inside, people start to prefer that world to the real one, get married and forget about reaching the 100th level, as their bodies in real life are laying in a special SAO victims hospital being kept alive by a drip, exploring issues of which is the real reality? I won’t go into the storyline too much as it has loads of flaws and unanswered questions but my point is that this anime has been voted by many websites the best of 2012, when I started my symposium I wanted to explore the photograph as an alternate reality but I kept on stumbling and getting stuck with no research content. So I abandoned it, but as this anime has made me think about virtual reality even more I think there is some way I can tap into this with photography. I am not sure how yet but this has got to be a way forward for not only my work but for society too. How long will it be before products like Nervgear are mainstream? (not in the crazy trapped in a virtual world way) And how can this be utilised within photography?

Upon a new fascination with virtual realities I bought this book, which I am currently reading. Once I am finished reading it I will storify my tweeted notes and see how this has had an impact on me and how the author utilises virtual reality.

image (1)
The book is going to be made into a film as well due to it’s popularity. Watch this interview with Ernie Cline the author to hear about the book plot and the plans for the film.

HTML5

HTML 5 is a new breed of website coding which became an oficial recommendation of W3C in December 2012. Not being too familiar with it’s capabilities and whats improved I decided as a practitioner who wants to utilise the internet to it’s full capabilities I would do some research. FFF (form follows function) is a collection of visual displays which show HTML5’s full capabilities. There are some really beautiful projects here. These are the best ones.

Screen Shot 2013-01-19 at 14.48.32
fff home screen – http://fff.cmiscm.com/

Screen Shot 2013-01-19 at 14.50.58

This is the ‘Hue blending‘ piece, I cannot really explain how great these interactive pieces are, instead you wil have to click the link and try it for yourself.

Screen Shot 2013-01-19 at 14.58.34And by far my favourite is the ‘Universe Panorama‘ piece, again something you have to experience to understand it.

HTML5 seems to bring what we get from apps straight to the computer, It doesn’t seem as if it follows the grid layout of usual HTML it seems more interactive  design and image conscious. Saying this the man behind this site is an expert and it wouldn’t be this easy for everyone. I have an interest in website building and in learning HTML5, I will do some more research and see if I can work out how to utilise it in regards to photography.

Cosplay Showcase by Nobutsugu Sugiyama

Cosplay photos often have a sexual bias. Photographer Nobutsugu Sugiyama has endeavoured to remove this bias and elevated Cosplay to a form of artistic and creative expression by the use of high-end photo-editing techniques. Conventional methods of shooting a model usually demand expressing their individual natures. However,Sugiyama has removed this individual interiority and focused on just the outline of the character. Resembling an anime-figurine,cosplayers are perfectly placed in a virtual showcase in this application.

http://www.nsp-jp.com/cosplayshowcase/index_eng.html

 

“Girls are dancin’” by Emily Jane Wakeling

“Girls are dancin’”: shōjo culture and feminism in contemporary Japanese Art

by Emily Jane Wakeling
University of Queensland

Read the full text here http://pdf.jpf-sydney.org/newvoices/5/foreword.pdf#page=134

Key:
Word definition( Collins English Dictionary)
“Quote”
Personal Note
Page Number
Other peoples References & theories

Abstract

It is relevant to read and discuss all of the abstract as it defines the project well and gives clear indication to the purpose of the text. It is broken up with my notes.

“This article explores the gender-transgressive (transgressive= offend/ violate boundaries) expressions found in shōjo culture in order to highlight the potential for feminist analysis in the prevalence of the shōjo motif in contemporary Japanese art. Shōjo culture is a fascinating cultural space, within contemporary Japanese culture, which fosters creative expressions of gender that negate or make complex hegemonic (hegemonic = dominant) categories. (In my mind this sentence translates more simply to challaging the expectations related to the depiction of women.) Departing from stereotypes of Japanese girls, this article will pay particular interest to an emerging wave of figurative contemporary art practices in which the figure of the shōjo is utilised for a new generation of feminist critique. Aoshima Chiho, Kunikata Mahomi, Takano Aya, Sawada Tomoko and Yanagi Miwa are among the current artists who feature the shōjo motif in contexts that foreground female subjectivities found paralleled in shōjo culture. These works will then be contextualised in the greater picture of current trends and themes in global contemporary feminist art.”

Although the majority of artists mentioned are painters I will read all of this text as I feel it is the most relevant text I have found to my topic, especially now it has been narrowed down to the representation of women.

Introduction

“The cultural construct of girlhood in Japan typifies the country’s typical absorption of foreign cultural influences and embracing it as uniquely “Japanese”.”

“The Japanese term “shōjo” is particularly useful to gender discussions of the Japanese girl. It is a way of referring to someone as feminine, but with a distinct suggestion of youth.” I have encountered the term Shojo before, but as a genre of manga rather than a feminist view.

“The shōjo is ‘free and arrogant, unlike meek and dutiful musume [daughter] or pure and innocent otome [maiden]’. “Daughter” and “maiden” both suggest the presence of a male authority in determining the girl’s identity, while the concept of shōjo has neither of these connections” – A woman who is considered independent.

Shōjo motif in contemporary art

“What differentiates them from others is their use of the shōjo motif in reference to the gender-transgressive expressions found in shōjo culture.”

“Aida identifies the sexualisation of shōjo in contemporary Japanese culture and makes comment through an exaggeration of his powerful position as a man and “pervert”.” – To my surprise this text does talk about Aida Makoto. Mainly discussing his artwork the text talks about how he uses his position as a man to make a social commentary on the representation of women. Almost ironically via adopting the iconic schoolgirl uniform and imagery we see so much in anime.

“Specifically, these artists use the shōjo motif to reference elements of shōjo culture that focus on her subjectivity over the male gaze.”

“They go beyond the sexual objectification of shōjo, as seen in the work of Araki, or ironically presented by Aida, to make reference to the creative uses of the fantastic, girlish aesthetics or gender-transgressive concepts found in shōjo culture.”

“Yanagi presents young women—specifically, the shōjo—as a status far removed from social conventions such as marriage and child-rearing”

“Minami (2000) imagines her older self as the eccentric owner of a Disney-style theme park being tended to by carers.” see photo left.
 “Yuka (2000) enjoys a ride on a sidecar speeding across the Golden Gate Bridge.” see photo left
“Feminist critic Ueno Chizuko notes that most of the shōjo subjects just imagine an extension of themselves ‘as they are now’ because ‘several of the grandmothers appear as cheerfully active and carefree as they are today’.38 ‘As products of Japan’s affluent society, these women refuse to relinquish the privileges afforded them as children, even as they approach their thirties. So children they will remain, into old age’.” – This analysis needs to be followed up!

38 Ibid., p. 61.

Feminism and Contemporary Art

“Yanagi considers her art practice to be different to artists who come from a Western background because ‘my knowledge of the origins and history of what is referred to as Western fine art, and of modernism, was grafted later on to a base of novel, movie and manga subculture’.41” Again this quote need following up. What else has Yanagi written about her interaction with manga and how it influenced her.

41 Yanagi in ARTiT, ‘Interview with Yanagi Miwa’, p. 56.

Gender in Shōjo Culture

“Kawaii style, mentioned briefly above, has been analysed as a female-centred rejection of adulthood. 51 Laura Miller presented cases of girls using photographic technologies, specifically the print-club sticker booths, to resist stereotypes. 52 Both refernces worth following up on as well. Laura Miller’s view on print-club could be helpful within my context section, heling me define this culture in a way that can be understood within minutes.

51 Kinsella, ‘Cuties in Japan’.
52 Miller, ‘Bad Girl Photography

“Shōjo manga is an especially rich subject to draw out girls’ expressions of gender transgression. To illustrate with an example, The Rose of Versailles—possibly the most iconic shōjo manga—was called a “revolutionary romance” by Deborah Shamoon. This manga would be worth a read, just to gain a better understanding of Shojo and see if I can find any similarities between the photographers I am looking at and this iconic manga.

This article has been really helpful. Towards the end it turned out to be looking at the photographers as practioners rather than what their work is trying to say. That it a key area to explore but I don’t want to end up creating a similar exploration into the artists  cultural background and reasons for creating work. I am more concerned with what they are trying to say with their work, are they trying to provoke change? but I have a long list of texts to look at. What I think this text is trying to say is the artists discussed within it are Shojo themselves they are part of this new breed of women, ans whilst that is vital to the understanding of their work it’s not what my topic aims to conclude on.

To read now:

51 Kinsella, ‘Cuties in Japan’.
52 Miller, ‘Bad Girl Photography
41 Yanagi in ARTiT, ‘Interview with Yanagi Miwa’, p. 56.
38 Ibid., p. 61.

Makoto Aida continued

I looked briefly at Makoto Aida’s work here. Exploring his role in “Bye Bye Kitty” and his work. In doing this research I came across these images…

 

Aida is what I consider an activist photographer. Although he might not think it himself his work comments on the society he lives in a provokes change. Making the spectator question what they except as normal.

Japanese artist Makoto Aida used the form to make a biting commentary on how manga and anime objectifies the female form by drawing eyes on model’s breasts. When it’s not, the medium is people barely dodging a police fine for public indecency.
– http://kotaku.com/makoto-aida/

Kawaii is the dominant culture in Japan. How do you combat this or incorporate it in order to keep your work interesting?
It is a strange thing to say, but I did grow up among what they call “kawaii culture.” I say strange as we all take it for granted. I guess we’ve been exposed to such [kawaii] images without even realizing it. They are everywhere so, it’s always been in my subconscious. I do not take this whole thing too negatively, but still I am a man, I am not fanatically into what is considered kawaii in general. I guess you could say that I do incorporate the idea, or what I consider kawaii into my work unconsciously.
– http://hifructose.com/2012/12/19/exclusive-interview-with-makoto-aida/

Aida is known for his paintings rather than his photographs. It is hard to find text and information on his photographs, I will scouer the internet and try my best. If I can’t find anything I will have to put my own analysis skills to test.

 

Takashi Murakami – Birth of Superflat

*my opinions written in blue

This is a channel 4 documentary on Takashi Murakami, the founder of ‘Superflat’.

Key notes:
-Highly theoretical
– Jelly fish eyes 2001 & Jelly fish eyes wallpaper: “An instillation about the concept of a hallway”
Pop Art
– Warhol – Images from mass media, reproduced and enlarged them.
– Jeff Koons – Kitsch and Pop culture.
– Murakami – Japanese cartoons & enlarging them.
– Childlike but repulsive. On first sight it’s pink, then it’s a fleshy pink.
– Flower artwork, critique of contemporary Japan, culture is childish and empty,
– Superflat – Dark vision of contemporary Japan
-Paul Schimmel, Chief curator @ MoCA Consumerist Aesthetic – Dirty words,
– Tom Eccles, Director of Public Art Fund, New York – Murakami celebrates consumerism, Warhol showed campbell soup cans, he didn’t actually design them unlike Murakami.
– Artists usually see art and business as two separate things. Murakami doesn’t. – “New form of Art” – Murakami

Superflat – “It’s a catch phrase” – Murakami
– Japans loss of national identity
– “The Otaku are grown ups who act like children” – says the presenter. Completely disagree, getting into the debate of what is Otaku is a different research project, but I am not taking this stance for my research project. My opinion is Otaku’s in Japan are looking for escapism  they hold well paid jobs and are very intelligent, but the pressure of society is too much for them so they enjoy adolescent things like anime and games.

Hiroki Azuma- Writer on Otaku culture
– Murakami’s used of big eyes reflect on the dark side of animation

David Elliot – Director, Mori Museum
– Everything has an emblem, a police station has a mascot. Murakami’s Mr. Dob is one of those, but he’s nasty, “he’s a rouge
muppet”

“After 1945 America swamped Japan with it’s consumer culture, Japan became the worlds best consumers.” Not sure it’s fair to say “best consumers” – like it’s a competition, in my eyes they are the “worst” consumers, they have fallen for consumerism which isn’t a positive thing.

Since 1990’s Japanese economy has been flat – terrorist cult with otaku links hacked the subway with poison gas, an Otaku killer was on the loose. Animation before this showed a hopeful future. Now they are a social malade [malade meaning – someone who is crazy, a patient]

“Society has become superflat”, David Elliot – Director, Mori Museum,”things get dumbed down”.

3 dimensions to Superflat
– Sociological
– Historical
– Aesthetic

Murakami appropriates others work, traditional Japanese art & Wester culture. Mr. Dob – Like Mikey Mouse with the stylish of traditional Japanese paintings.

Any irony involved? making the finest Japanese tradition of art (scrolls) to make a print of flowers? – doesn’t really give us an answer

Little Boy
Japans childish culture & the name of the bomb dropped on hiroshima.
Time Bokan – Murakami – 2001 – name taken from the animation – every week the bad guys would get defeated and a mushroom cloud would appear at the end in the form of a skull.

Murakami talking about “Time Bokan” – “This is typically Japanese, we have taken the worst tragedy that ever befell us and turned it into a joke”… “Just 30 years after the war, this fascinates me” “In the west Skulls are dark symbols of death. In japan they are not so negative. We in Japan have no awareness of our cultural identity. There is a reason Manga obsessively shows images of the atomic bomb. We are the only people who have experienced the atomic bomb…. thanks to man-made forced more powerful that gods. This has made us numb, past feeling and caring.”

The smiling flowers are like surrendering. In the future it will be hard to tell the difference between art and other commercial materials. Art is becoming simpler but toys are becoming sophisticated.

This documentary has been very informing, yet it tends to do what I hate, there is no conclusion, the narrater simply states the future remains to be seen and how we read Murakami’s work, ironically or not is a choice. I suppose as a BBC documentary it has to remain balanced as a PBS.

However it has made me think about my project. Why am I trying to use Murakami as an example of Kawaii culture? when he is a mesh of both, his art comments on this work, whilst making money from the consumerists. This could be something to explore, does Murakami’s work oppose Kawaii culture as much as photographers does?

One word I need to explain more is Irony, a word I hate to use in general because it’s so difficult to explain, but is unavoidable, and is a pivoting aspect to this project, consumerism and irony.

Photofilms

Photofilms are becoming widely used to tell a story, the advantage of photo film is the image and visual are never physically linked so you aren’t in the mind set of having to have linked images and music, unlike video.

Here are very different examples of Photofilms from around the internet, and a brief analysis of each ones strengths and weaknesses in terms of narrative and storytelling.


This visually stunning romantic journey through Japan uses images so well, mini stop motion films all put together, it doesn’t need a voice over because the story being told is pretty straight forward, depicting facts rather than emotions.


This second video by  is a more humourous approach, using music and soundscape to tell the story of a couples day, a distracted woman and her boyfriend who is desperately trying to reach her. I think this video overused the “Ken and Burns” effect, zooming all over the place, the photos from this video actually look really beautiful  but we hardly ever see one in it’s entirety, we see bits. Even with stills there seems a need for them to be moving, it might be a personal choice but I prefer this to happen more subtly.


This last video by  is probably the most relevant to my project, a look into the life of a person who belongs to a minority. The use of text to narrative rather a voice over is important, I’ve noticed it a lot in photovideos, if an external voice it used it seems to snap the audience out of their immersion within the story.

1 in 13 million – The only native Japanese Imam in Tokyo from Uchujin on Vimeo.

The work of LuluSeason

I came across LuluSeason’s work recently and fell in love with it. Her original characters are so well developed you would think they were from Shonen Jump!

Also her use of colours breaks away from the pastel tones of most fan art. Leading into the sci-fi genre.

All images ©LuluSeason

These are *AlwaysxInfinity and *xxEmiChanxx ‘s characters, Star and Andromeda.
Original – Little Red Riding Hood.
Character Design Sheet of Louhi

And even her fan art of existing anime takes the characters to a whole new level.

I will 100% be contacting her to see if she will work on the unnamed project with me.

See more work here.

http://luluseason.deviantart.com/

Symposium Proposal…

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
Symposium Presentation

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.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Emag:

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]

E-Book/PDF’s:

RoyalTevent, 2008. Tokyo Tremors. [PDF] UCLA. Available at: http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/soc/faculty/favell/RoyalTevent.pdf [Accessed on: 5/11/2012]

Books:

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

Blog:

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

Website:

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]

Tokyo Tremors: Four New Waves in Japanese Contemporary Art

Tokyo Tremors
Four New Waves in Japanese Contemporary Art

Tokyo Tremors is a lecture and discussion with Adrian Favell which took place at UCLA on June 11th. It explores the 4 new waves of contemporary art in Japan.

You can read the full summary here, for the moment I will be looking at just one section which is relevant to my research.

http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/soc/faculty/favell/RoyalTevent.pdf

A second wave focuses on the unique girl culture thriving in Japan today. While girls feature everywhere
in Japanese contemporary art – particularly in the adolescent styles of Murakami’s Kaikai Kiki artists –
other more independent women are striking a bolder, autonomous pose that is questioning gender
identity and roles in Japanese society, while celebrating their growing consumer power. This art has used
the camera as its main medium, influenced by popular street photography, as much as the extraordinary
innovations of the Japanese fashion world. Key artists here include Mika Ninagawa, Mikiko Hara, Miwa
Yanagi, Tomoko Sawada and Pyuupiru.

Miwa Yanagi also featured in the Bye Bye Kitty exhibition I wrote about, and whilst her and these artists focus on the role of the woman it is important to explore such a controversial new movement which opposes Japanese popular culture.

I am trying my hardest to get hold of a copy of the talk and to get into contact with Adrian Favell, the speaker. For now I will look at the work of practitioners mentioned and gain as greater knowledge as I can from that.

Mika Ninagawa

Mikiko Hara

Miwa Yanagi

Tomoko Sawada

Pyuupiru

 

 

 

Little Boy: ‘The Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subculture’

I have written before about ‘Little Boy’ an exhibition compiled by Takashi Murakami in which a number of artists explore how the Atmoic Bomb made Japan take on the role of a child, hence their Kawaii culture, obsessing over Hello Kitty and anything cute.

On reading the book I have managed to find the original quote which Mirukami suggests this…

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.

pp08 “Little Boy” by Takashi Murakami

 

Bye Bye Kitty: Between heaven and hell in contemporary Japanese art

It seems there is an influx of photographers who are aiming to break the kawaii nature on Japanese culture. On researching the Superflat movement one thing I have noticed is the lack of photographers involved. The only examples I can find are advertising campaigns, thinking about it that fits in the with superflat ideals of consumerism.

“Bye Bye Kitty Between heaven and hell in contemporary Japanese art” is an exhibition of new breed artists who’s work openly contradicts that of Takashi Murakami and the ideals associated with superflat movement as well as Kawaii and otaku culture.

Art in America’s blog writes this about the exhibition:

Featuring work by 17 artists”Bye Bye Kitty” reflects a decisive shift away from the cult of the cute, or kawaii, that appears in the art of Murakami. But the exact identity of this new style is difficult to pin down over all.

Gaia Gallery Art Blog writes:

“Bye Bye Kitty!!!” is a radical departure from recent Japanese exhibitions. Moving far beyond the stereotypes of kawaii and otaku culture, Japan Society’s show features sixteen emerging and mid-career artists whose paintings, objects, photographs, videos, and installations meld traditional styles with challenging visions of Japan’s troubled present and uncertain future. Each of the three sections, Critical Memory, Threatened Nature, and Unquiet Dream, not only offers a feast for the senses but also demolishes our preconceptions about contemporary Japan and its art.

Time entertainment, offers a more contextual look at the event:

In a lecture delivered on February 17, a month before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, curator David Elliott said that “One of the things that is interesting [about the show] is its apocalyptic nature,” and argued that the mood of foreboding in the works on display was “based on the artists’ experience” but also “based on their living in an earthquake zone — that something bad could easily happen.”

Sixteen artists are featured, split evenly between men and women, and the show is divided into three sections. “Critical Memory” examines the role played in the Japanese psyche by classical art, including the traditional painting forms of ukiyo-e and nihon-ga. “Threatened Nature” looks at environmental crisis. Finally, “Unquiet Dream” reveals the artists’ inner anxieties with works of haunting beauty and gallows humor.

– http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,2069261,00.html#ixzz2BMS825iw

Yoshitomo Nara, untitled, 2008. C-print, 10 1/2 × 7 7/8 in. (26.6 × 20 cm). Courtesy Tomio Koyama Gallery. Copyright © Yoshitomo Nara.
Kohei Nawa, PixCell Deer #24, 2011. Taxidermized deer, crystal glass balls. © Kohei Nawa.
Miwa Yanagi, My Grandmothers/HYONEE, 2007. C print, plexiglass, text panel, 51 1/4 × 39 3/8 in. (130 × 100 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Yoshiko Isshiki Office. Private collection, New York. Copyright © Miwa Yanagi.
Tomoko Yoneda, Kimusa (National Military Defense Security Command), 2009, no. 09. C-type print, 25 1/2 × 32 3/8 in. (65 × 83 cm). Courtesy ShugoArts. Collection of the artist. Copyright © Tomoko Yoneda.

 

Pop Psychosis: the Influence of the Bomb on Superflat Art

Pop Psychosis: the Influence of the Bomb on Superflat Art

April 19, 2010 By 

http://postbubbleculture.blogs.wm.edu/2010/04/19/pop-psychosis-the-influence-of-the-bomb-on-superflat-art/

Japanese artists of the Superflat movement use the language of this pop culture iconography to explore what kawaii says about the Japanese people and their history. Takashi Murakami, founding member of the Superflat movement and author of its manifesto, views the development of kawaii as Japan’s response to World War II and the atomic bomb.

Murakami, “Mushroom Bomb Pink”

Although this article is about an Art movement rather than photography it is a really good piece of text which helps analyse when this escapist, Kawaii, Otaku culture derived in Japan and the reasons for it.

The first section of the article is called…

The Neutered State

When the Americans rewrote the Japanese constitution after World War II, they included a clause prohibiting Japan from using its army for anything but self-defense, and demanding that it remain a “peaceful state.” Some historians see Article 9 as a symbolic castration, forcing a policy of nonaggression and stripping the country of its right to express dissent through military action. In 2005, Murakami curated a show of Superflat art called “Little Boy,” also the codename for the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The show’s catalogue directly faults Article 9 for the infantilism and willful innocence implied by the kawaii aesthetic, as it “forced the Japanese people into a mindset of dependency” and cast Japan in the role of a “child” obliged to follow America’s “adult guidance.” The New York Magazine review of the show notes that “Japanese pop represents the strange, even psychotic response of a population traumatized by World War II…from this vantage point, the firebombing of Tokyo evolved into the city stomp of Godzilla. The mushroom cloud became a pretty flower rising into the sky at the conclusion of a children’s TV show. Fantasies of power are irresistible to the impotent…” The sweetly naïve youthfulness of kawaii may well be attibuted to a sense of emasculation in Postwar Japan.

Finally I have found a piece of text which justifies my thoughts. I never thought about the use of childhood imagery as a metaphor for Japans surrender but that makes perfect sense. The superflat movement comments on this and often explores the world of “Kawaii Noir” a sub category of Kawaii (Cute) culture which has a dark undertone.

The Escapist Mentality

The growth of kawaii corresponds to the growth of otaku culture in Japan, and both kawaii and otaku provide a means of escape. Otaku can become engrossed in anime, manga, or other hobbies, sometimes to the detriment of their ability to interact with the outside world. The world of kawaii is a fantastical one by nature; where loaves of bread talk, cats wear pinafores, and children frequently possess special powers. In “Plumbing the Depths of Superflatness,” Michael Darling cites anime legend Yoshinori Kanada as an inspiration for Murakami, and notes the escapist atmosphere of his work: “Kanada’s fanciful images of destruction serve to distance the viewer (and the creator) from the real horrors of war, and can be seen as a symptomatic retreat from an honest reckoning with the ravages of World War II and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” Murakami also filters confrontation with the war through a cartoonish lens, but is aware of the dynamic and deliberately plays with it, as in “Mushroom Bomb Pink.” Here the mushroom cloud has formed the shape of a skull with two big eyes, painted against a fluorescent pink background. Mushrooms recur in many of his pieces, as in “The Army of Mushrooms.” The connection between the image of the mushroom and the miliaristic reference of the title is impossible to ignore, but the implications are obscured by the anthropomorphization of the mushroom and the sunny, springlike palette.
From an academic standpoint, Superflat art and the kawaii aesthetic it reappropriates is a means to examine many aspects of Japanese culture and self-perception. But forefront in the work of Takashi Murakami is a preoccupation with the past and how the Japanese choose to view and confront it.

Murakami, “The Army of Mushrooms”

Although short, this article gets right to the base of japanese pop culture and it’s reference to the war. Thankfully the references are listed, so I can explore this area more.

Sources:

Darling, Michael. “Plumbing the Depths of Superflatness.” Art Journal 60.3 (2001): 77-89. JSTOR. Web. 8 Apr. 2010.

Holmberg, Ryan. “Little Boy: the Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subculture.”Artforum International (2001).

Stevens, Mark. “Toxic Cuteness.” New York Magazine, May 21, 2005.

External links:

Video: Murakami interviewed by Jonathan Ross

Trailer for Murakami’s new animation project:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yg1RP_eaoRM

Another interview with Murakami:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJw8U9yMFZ4

Murakami’s official site: http://www.takashimurakami.com

The fan site! http://www.takashimurakami.net/

Wired Magazine profile: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.11/artist.html

*Kimmymanga’s fan art

I’ve seen *Kimmymanga‘s work before and always admired it.

See more of her work here…  http://kimmymanga.deviantart.com/

It would be awesome to get her involved in the new project idea.

FOLLOW UP 8/11/2012

unfortunately Kimmymanga is too busy with other work at the moment to do this project, which is unfortunate but understandable. Hopefully we can work together on another project.

Exploring fan art

The best way to start my research is looking at fan art of my favourite Animes.

*click images to see the artists work*

Deadman Wonderland

by Sayori_Abyss
by pokemonfreak1
by Tsunderie
by Sayori_Abyss

Casshern Sins

by DaharIRIS
by pacedheart
by largee17

Kore wa zombie desu ka

by whitechariot
by Psyconorikan
by randell1993

This is just a result of a quick google search, there are millions of pieces of fan art out there, and it seems wasted to me that something isn’t being done with this. Hopefully the new project I will launch will change this.

and now to round off with a short documentary which attempts to explore fan art…

Leslie Holt

 

 

 

Hello Masterpiece
In my most recent “Hello Masterpiece (art appreciation)” series, I juxtapose the character, Hello Kitty, with famous images from art history. The paintings are postcard size, similar to those found in a museum gift shop. The famous paintings become pop culture icons akin to Hello Kitty, and the paintings’ appeal as take home sized objects reinforces their context as commodities in a market. In these paintings Hello Kitty is often taking a tour through art history and dressing up to “match” elements of the famous painting. Hello Kitty becomes a toy version of Cindy Sherman, capable of changing identities by transforming her outer appearance. However, her “toyness” and her obvious overlay on the image disrupt any illusion that she actually fits in the scene of the artwork.

– Leslie Holt leslieholt.net/artist-statement/

Soasig Chamaillard

 

 

 

 

As you can probably tell from the photographs, Soasig Chamaillard’s work looks at pop culture and relates it to religion. Much in the same way of Pierre et Gilles and David LaChapelle’s work. Mixing iconic figures from religion and transforming them into modern iconic figures comments on today society and the role of products, note that none of the characters depicted are real people, instead products of consumerism that shape pop culture.

www.soasig-chamaillard.com

Japanese Schoolgirl confidential – How teenage girls made a nation cool

‘Japanese Schoolgirl confidential – How teenage girls made a nation cool’ – Brian Ashcraft with Shoko Ueda

I bought this book at Hyper Japan in February 2012 just out of interest to read. However there is one chapter in particular which is very relevant to my symposium research project. The Japanese school girl is at the center of Popular Culture and has helped to define Japan as the eccentric, youthful and energetic nation it is today.

Chapter 6 – Art

This chapter gives an insight into the way Japanese school girls are represented within art and photography, including themes of sex, innocence and violence.

The chapter starts by talking about one of Japans most famous modern artists “Mr.” and his role with the school girl.

‘Nobody Dies’ is a short film which embodies all the aspects of the school girl. Teenage girls with airsoft guns depicting war as fun, cute and harmless. It is based on one of his paintings from 2007 called ‘It hurts when it hits the bare skin’. Directly influenced from the role of young women in Anime Mr.’s work has helped push the assumption that the best age for a woman in life is 14/15, no children, no work and no husbands, an idea that to us might seem absurd,  but in Japan the pressure of marrying and having children for young women equivalents that of 50’s Britain.

‘It hurts when it hits the bare skin’ – 2007
‘Nobody dies’ 2008
‘nobody dies’ 2008

Time out new york describes Mr.’s work and ‘Nobody Dies’…

Mr. is an unabashed fan of otaku, a geek-driven fantasy world whose denizens include pubescent girls with saucer eyes engaging in Lolita-like scenarios. His first solo exhibition portrayed these doll-like cuties as giant candy-colored sculptures that exaggerated their peekaboo innocence. Perhaps to distance himself a bit from Murakami, Mr.’s second solo exhibition, “Nobody Dies,” presents a video starring live girls “discovered” on the streets of Tokyo, along with a series of related photographs and a panoramic acid-hued painting, which seems to depict Akihabara, the massive, arcade-filled Tokyo neighborhood that is otaku’s subcultural epicenter.

The video follows the story of five tween schoolgirls who plan their revenge against a team of punk chicks who beat them in a mock survival game reminiscent of paintball. More than a half hour long, the tedious narrative weaves together silly flashbacks with a plethora of crotch shots. The accompanying photos depict the girls in front of various locales in elaborate costumes—from gingham uniform skirts to fashionista camo—designed by Mr. and Kaikai Kiki. What the viewer is supposed to get out of “Nobody Dies” is anybody’s guess, but if Mr. hopes to entice more than just otaku geeks, he’d better start giving a clue, or his own career may expire.

The next artists which is discussed in the book is Makoto Aida, who’s work I had come across before but only on anonymous bloging sites. As an adult man Makoto Aida is fascinated with the idea of the Japanese school girl.

These artists had grown up after the war, while the process of rebuilding Japan was in full swing. they experienced the rapid ascent of the japanese economy during the heady 1980’s, and came of age surrounded by pop-culutre. They drew inspiration form this-using the language of manga and anime to convey their message.
-page 128/129 Talking about Makoto Aida, Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara.

Makoto Aida. Azemichi (a path between rice fields) 1991

The book continues to write about how Aida uses the combination of innocence and sex to make his subject feel uncomfortable,.

“At the age of fourteen, I became obsessed with the magical quality young girls have,” he says. “As I get older, the age difference gets wider, and yet the almost magnetic attraction to these girls gets stronger and stronger.” But the artist emphasises  it’s not a romantic interest. Rather, it is a reminder of his youth and his ageing.
-page 129

Tomoko Sawada is a key photographer is understanding life as a Japanese School girl, understanding the abilities appearances can have for young girls. Individuality is a huge problem for Japanese school girls, living in a country with so many people how do you stand out?

In the late 1990’s Sawada used subway station photo booths to take passport-style portraits of herself. In each photo her hairdo or expression was different. Ultimately, the four hundred monochrome photos she took made us her work entitled ‘ID400’. The point was that although these were ID photos, none of them identified Sawada.
-Page 132

The passport-style photo is a key part of japanese life, it’s sent along with job applications, used for marriage match making, and remembering the “best” part of their lives, School.

Sawada then went on to create a ‘school days’ series which pushed her identity project further.

At first is appears that this is a normal school photo, but when you look closely you see that each character is the same person, Sawada. This is her exploration of individuality and shows how teenagers have the ability to be individual in the most structured environment. Maybe that is the appeal of teenagers, the freedom and individuality they possess.

Sawada, Koide, and Aida, and many other Japanese artists today, use schoolgirls in their work much in the same way French Realists like Millet and Courbet painted pheasants – schoolgirls represent the common people, they are the soul of the country and bear the brunt of society, they are the ones who keep it going. And sometimes that stress can take its toll.
-Page 135

Photographer Motoyuki Kobayashi also uses the school photo to present his thoughts on society, but in a different way.

‘I feel that if society looks at the purity of schoolgirls, it can see the future,” says Koboyashi. There’s hope. These girls represent the Japan of tomorrow. “The purity of young girls’ hearts is a common theme in Japan.”
-Page 136

Roughly half of Japans 120 million residents either were, are or will be school girls. They represent the mass. “Schoolgirls are a symbol of Japanese culture.” – Says Kobayashi

His books depict innocent, hopeful images of japanese school girls.

Keitai Girl is an image made by photographer Noriko Yamaguchi it looks at school girls and their relationship with  “Keitai Denwa (portable phone)”. Her photos are self-portrait, she has covered herself in hundreds of mobile phone key pads which concern the desire to touch.

Chapter 6 End