others explorations of Japanese escapism

With my newly focussed idea I decided it would be best to look for articles and essays written on Japanese Escapsim and see other peoples take on this aspect of Japanese Popular Culture.

Bloggers without borders – “Japanese escapism

Article Link – http://bloggerswithoutborders.com/2012/08/30/japanese-escapism/

 This article starts off by talking about how Japan is the place to go if you are looking to escape, whether it’s through video games, manga and themed restaurants. It then contradicts this with a link to Japanese suicide rates and pressure to create perfection and be the best you can. Linking these two juxtaposed aspects within Japanese Culture to explain why there Popular culture is so connected with escapism and is so intense. The same ethics are used in the work place and in entertainment. All or nothing. It then goes on to explain about the culture of Otaku (Geeks, Freaks, Obsessed), men (predominantly) who work hard a are well educated and have good jobs, but who then have an alter ego, obsessed with teenage girls and anime. A great social group example of both worlds.

Key Quotes:
“I’m not aware of any other nation where fantasy, escapism and the cyber world have fused with such intensity.”
“As Japan is very regimented and cold. So, pop culture, is everything but regimented. Pop culture in Japan is all about creating a world where anything is possible.”
“could it have anything to do with the great despair the Japanese live in? There is no country where there are so many complaints about the great expectations every one has to live up to. Maybe these expectations are just too much for many and they seek enjoyment in the alternate universe of Otaku.”

NY Times – “Japanese Obsessions

Article Link – http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/15/opinion/15iht-edcohen.html?_r=0

Oddly enough this article begins at a Japanese Gym, where the writer Roger Cohern see’s images of food whilst on a treadmill. he began to be mesmerised by this strange addition to workouts which he had never seen.

The exploration of Japans intense popular culture is broken down into 4 sections in this article.

Wealth- Japans economy is strong, but whilst they are one of the wealthiest countries they have not gained the leading position in exports and products that was expected, China has that role now. So Japan is left somewhere inbetween America and China, with lots of money and no heavy restrictions on where it should be spent.
Postmodernism –
Conformism – The individuals need to escape from millions of other doing the same thing in the same country.
Dispair –  Natural disasters and economies all around collapsing.

Key Quotes:
“I’m not aware of any other nation where fantasy, escapism and the cyber world have fused with such intensity.”
“My sense is that four factors have contributed to this: wealth, postmodernism, conformism and despair.”
“Japan is also moderately bored. The days of rising Japan Inc. when the former U.S. ambassador in Tokyo, Mike Mansfield, could speak of U.S.-Japan ties as “the most important bilateral relationship in the world, bar none” and fears of a Japan takeover were rampant — those days are gone. China has occupied that space.”
“So what’s left for this comfortable, perfectionist society of narrowed ambition is otaku escape, the games I found myself playing to fool exhaustion as Chinese dumplings adorned the treadmill. “What’s all this food?” I finally asked a man on the neighboring machine. He had no doubt: “Things you should not eat.””

Mamika – Sacha Goldberger

I bought ‘Mamika‘ a book by Sacha Goldberger a few weeks ago whilst trying to find an original photography book. (running #photography can at times make you urge to see something different, although most of the time it’s inspring.)

It wasn’t until now that I realised this book reflects my previously sub-conscious admiration of work which representes how we use photography to escape reality.

In this case it’s not just me escaping reality by immersing myself in someone else’s story, but Frederika (the subject) escaping her reality and in turn allowing Sacha Goldberger to escape his.

I see the series as comforting relationship between a Grandson and Grandmother, the mutual respect and Love they feel for each other allow them to use their strengths to create a gripping story. Frederika’s being her personality and Sacha’s being his photography.

The title ‘Mamika’ means “my little Grandma” which reinforces this idea of comfort and love between the two. But like most stories there is a dark sinister message too. At first we may laugh at images of Grandma Frederika sitting backwards on a bicycle or mistaking an elephant for a mouse, but once we look at the context, we see an elderly lady displaying signs of senility and loneliness. Growing old isn’t easy and this is Sacha and Frederika’s way of coping with it.

Despite this the series also offers us hope. That at no matter what age you can be who you want to be and break conventions via photography and the encouragement of loved ones.

I would recommend anyone interested in photography to buy this book, as it’s not only a beautiful concept but the execution of the images is great too.

Become Someone Else

It seems what I previously wrote about, everyone finding their own ways to escape reality couldn’t be more true.

This campaign “Become Someone Else” by the Lithuanian Agency, Love for Mint Vinetu, is a great example of one way in which people escape reality. Although it might not relate directly to photography and escapism. It does make me think wether some people treat photographs like instant books. Without putting any effort in we are immersed into a place or a situation in which we escape, even if it’s for a few seconds.

Digital Rest: Minority Report

I was trying to think about situations in media where technology has been used as an escape. It may be based in the future but i think the first minute of this scene in Minority report (2002) shows how the future may be when we have the technology. It’s a digital version of what i talked about in the last post about Digital Rest. The places which Oliver Grau calls Illusion spaces. In this Digital Rest, people go to find sanctuary in a world that does not exist, they escape all the problems in their lives and live out a dream in the virtual world.