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

 

 

 

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.

 

Beautiful New World: Contemporary Visual Culture from Japan – Exhibition catalogue

You can read the catalogue is online here

Beautiful New World is an Art exhibition that focuses on the idea of a new world, along with the 21st century came a great expectation of peace and growth in Japan, but it soo became the most violent and destructive time in recent history. Whilst WWII was harmful, post war provided great growth for Japans economics. However in the last 30 years Japan has suffered from some horrendous events such a earth quakes, tidal waves and economy crashes. Influenced by the theme of a new world which is so current in Manga, the world being destroyed and trying to rebuild itself is featured in thousands of manga stories, these art pieces comment on the lust for a better place, an escape from reality which is so predominant in Japanese pop culture. (off the top of my head I can think of 3 or 4 manga series I have read where creating a new world is the main theme.)

The exhibition itself features the work of 34 creative people, spanning across all art forms, and is divided into 3 sections, Beautiful real world, New media world and End of the world and future world.

Section 1
Beautiful Real Wold @ Long March Project

The main theme of this section is understanding beauty and reality. Question both of their meanings and re-exploring how we understand them. The pieces are based on the representation of females in Contemporary advertising and fashion shoots. It also takes direct influence from manga..

Japanese manga and animations that illustrate gender-specific features in the boy’s world / girl’s world; and works that focus on “kawaii” culture, as well as the personal world-view of hitori-asobi(solitary play) that deviates from this culture.

Some of the exhibited work:

Teppei Kaneuji

teenage fan club #5. 2007.
plastic figure,hot melt adhesive
25x12x37(h)cm

This piece by Kaneuji Teppei has a direct reference to Japanese popular culture, using the brightly coloured structured hairstyles which feature in anime and manga to create a Big foot type creature.

Paramodel

Paramodel is an “art unit” formed in 2001 by Yasuhiko Hayashi (2001 Fine Art graduate from the Kyoto City University of Arts) and Yusuke Nakano (a Nihonga [Japanese-style painting] graduate from the same university). Their title comes from the combination of the words, “Paradise” and “model”, and the fusion of these two concepts is essentially the launching point of their creations. Although the unique talents and interests of these two individuals hardly ever intersect, they manage to work in parallel towards the same vision of constructing intricate models of Paradise using toy parts, like plastic train tracks and mini-cars. Engaging in this poetic, yet paradoxical practice of remodeling paradise, this art unit presents their visions in a variety of media, including installation, objets, animations, painting, sculpture, and photography. –www.azito-art.com/paramodel/

These pieces by Paramodel play on the miniature culture within Japan, the sushi presented on the truck plays on the idea of Kawaii culture within Japan, the need for everything to look cute and sweet.

Go Watanabe

“face (“portrait”) -8″, 2006, digital print, translucent film, light box, h.135 x w.123 x d.20 cm

All featured artists:
Aida Makoto, exonemo, Kaneuji Teppei, Konoike Tomoko, Kusama Yayoi, Murayama Ruriko, Nishiyama Minako, Odani Motohiko, Okazaki Kyoko, Paramodel, Sawa Hiraki, Shimabuku, Takamine Tadasu, Tanaka Koki, Ujino Muneteru, Watanabe Go, Xijing Men (Ozawa Tsuyoshi, Chen Shaoxiong, Gimhongsok), Yanagi Miwa

Section 2
New Media World @ Inter Arts Center

The art of new media has changed the ways in which we view the world. The works that tune into the new possibilities of communication and physical sensibilities are becoming ever important in considering contemporary society; such works take interest in what effect technological development in images and sound has on human sensations. The idea that perceives human relationships, or relationships between human and the environment as fluid, rather than predetermined, could be the driving force behind such developments. The works to be on exhibit in this section encompass a broad range of works, including not only those works that incorporate new technology, but also those that relate to the urban environment, fashion, and objects. – Taken from the online catalogue

some of the exhibited work:

Hiroshi Fuji

 

Hiroshi Fuji’s work looks at consumerism and a culture who chuck out anything that isn’t up to date. His sculptures are made from discarded items, he tries to take unwanted objects and turn them into something interesting. All the parts are childrens toys.

All featured artists:
Atelier Bow-wow, doubleNegatives Architecture, Tsumura Kosuke, Fuji Hiroshi, Ikeda Ryoji, Oshii Mamoru, Yokoyama Yuichi, National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan)

Section 3
End of the World and Future World @B.T.A.P.

This section touches on the deep-seated apocalyptic world-view in Japanese society and culture, together with the visions for the future that are projected as result. The apocalyptic world-view is shaped by the disintegration of society and the collapse of urban cities, caused by natural disaster, war, and genocide as such, as well as death and the fear of facing death, while the visions for the future are projected in forms of cities in rejuvenation and futuristic cities. Some of the works in this section signify eternity and sustainability in relation to these themes. – taken from the catalogue

some exhibited work

Hatakeyama Naoya

Hatakeyama Naoyas stunning landscapes toggle between the destruction of the world, juxtaposed with landscape photos with no sign of human life, making us think about the beauty of the world, and putting us in the position of imaging a new world.

Yanobe Kenji

– Project Viva Riva – Sutanda
2001 200cm × 200cm × 300cm
aluminum, brass, motors, other monuments (Revival) Play arose from the “ruins of the future.” Work was born doll suit atom was picked up in the ruins of the nursery of Chernobyl, the sun that had been painted on the wall has become a group. Doll rises senses radiation 20 times, objects located beyond the line of sight of the sun shine at the same time. Stand up on two legs is also a big step in the process of human growth and human evolution.

Tomoko Yoneda

An End is A Beginning – Tokyo, , JP – 2008-09-12 until 2008-11-30

Tomoko Yoneda’s photographs of an end is seem less kitsch and colourful as some of the work in the exhibition, however it’s message is strong. Unless accompanied by it’s title the photo holds no real connection to the idea of a new world, but with the title we imagine we have reached an end of a story, perhaps a family or couple fleeing to the new world after a long series of events.

All featured artists:
Fujihata Masaki, Hatakeyama Naoya, Miyajima Tatsuo, Miyamoto Ryuji, Ohmaki Shinji, Urasawa Naoki, Yanobe Kenji, Yoneda Tomoko

The exhibition as a whole

There is no doubt that this exhibition would have been one worth seeing. Rarely are so many forms of art in one place, the interesting idea is that all artists work is based along the idea of a Beautiful New world, but each result is completely different, and that the repetitive use of a new world narrative within Manga has a big enough influence and has become such a big part of japanese pop culture that many artists are using it as their influence for work.