Prolific fashion photographer Nick Knight is constantly re-defining and discussing pop culture in his work, never has this been more true than in ‘Text Talk’, an editorial created for Garage Magazine in 2012. With styling by Katy England and modelling by Lindsey Wixon Nick Knight combines the recognisable imagery of texting and uses them in a way that is reminiscint of Roy Lichtenstein’s work to create a modern take on pop culture.
Franck doesn’t give us much information on the project other than the title – leaving it to us to read what we like. As a UK resident where basketball is something you play at school for one term and little more, this series is reminiscent of American youth culture of the past. Whilst I assume (maybe wrongly) the courts are still used a lot, Francks desolate representations seem to be making a comment on the uncanny atmosphere of a “playing” area with no one on it, could this be a comment on today’s electronic youth culture? Kids not playing outside or a simple attempt at making beautiful imagery? Either way it is a thought provoking and visually stimulating project with a stillness and juxtaposition of busy cityscapes and desolate playing fields.
Every once in a while you come across a very special blog – this is one of them! Let me introduce all you Naruto nuts out there to Naruto x Fashion – a hybrid of high fashion and pop culture. As a fan of Naruto I love how not only has an appropriate outfit been chosen using colours and styles but also how the body language and facial expressions are a perfect match, these images have undoubtedly been made by a fan who knows each characters personality.
These images are just the tip of the iceberg, check out Naruto x Fashion for more characters and their runway looks.
Having not done a project in a while I thought it’s time to get my butt in gear and do one. I’ve been looking at a lot of product photography jobs in the last few weeks, all of which want a product style portfolio. Whilst it’s not in my nature to produce a series of “consumerism” images, I can’t think of a better job than spending all day in a studio with objects and playing around with lighting.
This made me think about a project in which I can both fulfil my desire to create and build a series of images for product photography jobs. I looked around my room, thinking “What objects can I photograph?” I thought about this past year and decided things I brought back from Japan would be great.
Not having access to Cov uni’s studio anymore I had to improvise and googled it. To my delight I found this great tutorial article “How to Create an Inexpensive Photography Lightbox” – so I did. It’s a great temporary solution if you are tight on money and rich in time.
I started with the conventional white background set up, and then moved onto a more meaningful idea – using posters-maps and documents that coincide with the object. I know neither of these ideas were great or original, but I just had to start somewhere.
I took my Blue Rose figure down from my shelf and began shooting, I used a map of Tokyo’s Akihabara district synonymous with anime/manga and Otaku culture.
As I said before this is just a kick off point, my plan is to research still life projects. However, I’m aware that what constitutes as good commercial product photography is not what I would consider a thought provoking series, I may have to run two series at the same time using the same objects.
Let the research begin… Yay!
21st Century Geisha, Magical Girl and Product Placement. These are all “looks” of our protagonist. Female pop cult icons change their visual identity in order to comply with whichever product or theme is in demand. They become like dolls boundlessly changing whilst simultaneously being branded as unique and liberating. Consumers are led into a false sense of empowerment, told we are free to choose how these icons look, when really we are being drip fed options. Our so called freedom is choosing from a series of pre-selected branded looks which demand we pay before getting access. This transcends into all aspects of consumerism surrounding these transmedia icons, figures, photos and trading cards all offer different variations, we buy into choices in order to show we don’t conform. When the act of needing them suggests the opposite.
We live in a society in which we passively communicate, and whilst many people see this as a negative thing, I don’t. I made this series to portray the emotion and comfort technology can bring us in relationships, long distance ones in particular. Each Image is named after the singular light source used in the image.
The great thing about video is that it’s an extended version of word of mouth. Why tell someone about a project when you can show and tell them at the same time? you never forget to mention a vital part, and no matter who is watching it a student a corporation or your next door neighbour they are all receiving the same information and the same experience of your project. Using video to not only promote but explain a project seems almost limitless. Here are some projects that use video to introduce their ideas well.
The table project
The table project utilise video well, I’ve seen the stop motion technique of someone drawing done countless times, but this is by far the best use of it. Using visual techniques and narration a quite complex project is explained in an easy to understand way, you could call this the projects pitch, it’s selling itself to you and want’s to make you learn more. I myself have since watching it sent it onto family who are actively involved in the church because I know they will want to learn about it from the video.
You could almost talk about this introduction as a trailer, it takes a different approach to mine, it’s about conspiracy and their fore doesn’t give a clear definition about what the project is, but that’s 100% intentional. There is also an explanation video, a talk through of this one. Which you can watch here. https://vimeo.com/15396143 However like mine it is a transmedia project.
The geography of youth
I love this project intro video. Wether it be because the project is inspiring or I feel like it could be a Phonar project, it is undoubtably a brilliant pitch, it’s exactly the kind of thing I’m after, using stats and figures to hook the viewer and peoples own personal stories too. It leaves me wanting more, I want to know about the project.
The opening video of my project is key, it’s the context for my story and a method of immersing the spectator into the world of Otaku. This is the script i’ve written so far for the opening video. The next step is working out how I will use visual images to support my writing. My reasons for writing each sentence is written in blue.
Black = The script
Blue = My reasoning behind it
Pink = How I intend to support this visually
Otaku. An anime and manga obsessive who invests all of their time and money into their hobby. – It’s key to start off with a definition when working with an exotic subject matter, the majority of people won’t know what Otaku means. They should however be farmilliar with Anime and Manga, however this may be presumptuous of me, so I will have to use images to provide context as well. – Visually I want the word Otaku to be implanted into peoples minds. Whenever I say Otaku it will be supported with a bold typing of “Otaku”. The definition will be supported with images of Otaku’s rooms, to visually help the viewer see what kind of level of obsession I am talking about.
Taichi Takashita, the man who tried to marry anime character, Mikuru Asahina. OTAKU!
The 1000 people who signed his petition to legalise human and 2D character marriage. OTAKU!
Tsutomu Miyazaki, the man who killed and then mutilated the corpses of 4 young girls in Tokyo. OTAKU! – The purpose of these examples is to put images of what the media depicts as Otaku’s into the spectators mind, put negative images into their head to I can contradict them. – Again I will use the word Otaku on screen whenever I say it, I will also use media used images of each person.
But this isn’t the whole story. What about the millions of self proclaimed Otaku’s online? Are they the childish, psychologically disturbed obsessives we see on TV and in the media? – Starting to turn it on it’s head question this representation. – I have thought about this already and produced an image of 100’s of online Otaku’s avatars from figure.fm.
‘Moe’ is the term Otaku’s use to describe the comfort their obsession brings them. It’s also the title my series of photofilms that intimately explores the lives and experiences of Otaku’s from every continent, and offers them a chance to tell their side of the story, un-judged. – Introducing the project to people, without giving too much away. – Much like with otaku is will bring Moe up on screen in bold font to reinforce this new word, and help establish it as part of my brand.
Choose an Otaku (with links to different Otaku’s stories) – Allowing the viewer to interact with the series, and also experience some context before seeing the stories.
Today’s mission, do some research on successful project intro videos and have a first draft of the video by the end of the day.
I decided a while back that when doing photofilms I wanted to make ‘Moe’ a series, but I also think it’s key to have an opening 1/2 mins which establish what is an Otaku and acts as a pitch of the project. However I don’t want this video to become separate from the rest as I want it to be seen before each video. How can I get around this? by making an interactive video.
One of the most famous interactive videos is Deliver me to Hell, in which the viewer (you) decides the actions of a character to try and get them around safely without being killed by a zombie. You are given choices which take you to other videos and then play out the scenario.
With my Otaku videos it would be good to have an opening sequence, explaining the project and then have an option at the end. “Choose an Otaku” the viewer clicks on the image that looks most interesting to them and it takes them to their video, the same happens at the end of that video. And as I add more photofilms I gain more options.
For the last time I am going to redefine my project, I finally have a doable project, and haven’t had to compromise on the scale of it.
This project aims to tell the story of some of the most interesting hobbyists in the world, Otakus. “Otaku” is a Japanese word that is given to someone who is obsessed, in this case with anime and manga. The aim of my project is to produce a transmedia photofilm which uses images of Otaku’s sanctuaries, most commonly their bedrooms which are smothered in anime merchandise, from all over the world. This is paired with intimate interviews with each individual, providing an insiders outlook onto a culture that is often pre-judged and patronised. The project title is “Moe” [mo-e] which is a term that originated in the early “Otaku” scene, it describes the comfort and warmth felt between a “geek” and their obsession, a non-sexual but very strong relationship between a fictional world and reality.
In reaction to the last polaroid films being produced becoming expired, The Observer sent renowned photographer Rankin to produce images of gordon Brown, PM at that time, using a polaroid.
Rankin said the act of using a camera he wasn’t familiar with, relaxed Gordon Brown, and led to these surprisingly comforting images.
“I try to go into any shoot without any preconceptions,” elaborates Rankin, “but with Brown you can’t help be aware that he is supposed to be dour. I found the opposite was the case. He was a really fascinating – and fascinated – bloke. Really inquisitive about what I was doing. It got me thinking that maybe no one had ever taken a good honest photograph of him before.”… “If you’re a good photographer, you can take a great shot on any format.”
The way in which Rankin has photographed quite a distant subject with something so casual as a polaroid makes the images quite, surreal, we aren’t used to seeing Gordon Brown depicted in this way. This is what I aim to do with my project by using an intimate immediate format to document a connection between 2 fans.
With hardly any luck from the forums, I am on a hunt for a person to photograph for my ‘Moe’ project. Genea posted an advert about a photo shoot for first hand research and within an hour got 2 replies. So my project is now up on craigslist.
Let’s hope mine has the same interest.
I’ve been in discussion with Joe from ‘Otaku News’ about him helping me publish my need for an Otaku. The site is a hub for fans all around the world to go and find out the latest events. Usually they post for projects like NEO magazine and MCM expo, so the fact they were more than willing to comply with my project is really great. The promo went live this morning, here it is.
I have written a project proposal for the “Moe” project I have been discussing over the last few weeks. To read it please click on the link below.
Now to spread this round and get some people to work with on this project.
I’ve been thinking about this project quite a lot recently, and for the final phonar task is seems pretty perfect.
The culmination of this module will be the production of a “trans-media portrait”.
You should source and develop a subject whose story you tell through the production of a ‘photographic project’; a phrase that we will investigate over the course of the module. Your decisions throughout this process should build upon and further develop the work we’ve begun in creative workshops and the lecture series. This process should be evidenced explicitly and succinctly in your sketchbook, as a 500 word reflective summary.
Grading will take into account your responses to all of the creative workshops and reflections on the lecture series.
– Phonar task
So whats the project?
It involves spending just a day with someone who fits into the social group of “Otaku”. I’ve written before about what an otaku is you can read the post by following the link below.
For a more visually interesting take on Otaku take a look at this snippet from the ‘Otaku’ episode of the BBC’s ‘Japanorama’ series.
I haven’t watched “Train Man” before (mentioned in above video) so I reckon it would be a helpful bit of research. The last thing I want is create a story which is like an outsiders view in, like a wildlife documentary, I am hoping my love for Anime and Manga and sometimes geeky obsessive nature will help me achieve an unbiased project. So I aim to learn as much as I can about Otaku culture.
It would also be interesting to explore the term “Moe” I have briefly looked at it for my symposium task.
I’ve also been trying to look at other ways of naming the project because the word Otaku is surrounded by much debate. In Japan it is quite derogative, the term became part of every day language after a manga and anime obsessed grown man killed young girls, the headlines surrounding this event labelled him as Otaku, so the then sub-culture became tainted with negative connotations of that one horrific event. The geek cultures recent popularity in the West has lead to the term Otaku becoming less about an unhealthy obsession and more of an alternative word for geek. Therefore it’s hard to determine who is really an Otaku and I also don’t want to offend someone by labelling them Otaku when the word in it’s original context can be quite degrading. However “Moe” is always positive, it’s a word which originated from Otaku culture so is specific to them, and also has a more inside positive outlook on their interaction with fantasy worlds. Therefore would probably be more appropriate as a project title.
The Kawaii project is a blog in which almost anything can be given a kawaii makeover. A meme for making things cute.
Essentially this is just a bit of fun. Although wether I go down the super flat route, Otaku route or Kawaii root (as all 3 won’t be possible in the time frame) It gives me an insight into the kawaii fan base.
I’ve always been fascinated by specific characters within Anime and Manga, as a fan of Japanese pop culture (or as wikipedia would call me a Japanophile) I spend hours searching for wallpapers, quotes, clothing and anything else Anime based that isn’t actually the Anime. I often know about an Anime through a character first, for example, I know of Vocaloid even though I have never watched it, yet I know Miku Hatsune by name and sight, and that she has become a world renowned pop start, having just done her first tour in the US (bearing in mind she is an Anime character, and not real) If you are interested to see what I mean watch this video.
The difference between Japanese pop culture and Western pop culture is the relationship between consumerism and art. In the west artists like Andy Warhol and Banksy take consumerism and turn it into art. But Japanese artists like Takashi Murakami use art and turn it into consumerism.
Andy Warhol – Consumerism products -> His art
Takashi Murakami – His art -> Consumerism products
This is something which makes most Manga a form of Transmedia. A project starts out as a drawing it then becomes an anime, then a plushie, then a costume, then trading cards and so it goes on. I am yet to find a Manga that isn’t an Anime or vice versa.
What would be interesting to explore is the multiple platforms used by Japanese Anime and Manga.
I started a project a while ago which has been out of my mind for a couple of weeks. I wanted to create Anime characters without creating the Anime. Cutting out what people expect to be the original source and going straight to the other platforms. However I was limited to photography, as this is my skill set. If I collaborated with artists to create the characters, actors to create the voices, musicians to create the theme song this could be a really interesting project.
I had a go at attempting a character a while ago, he was called bird, but I left it as it was underdeveloped and I didn’t have time to give the character life. One thing this project will help me with is not trying to do everything alone, let other people in and work with them to make the project better.
In brief terms it’s creating the fan base without having the ‘typical’ origin. I could create cosplay images of people impersonating the fictional characters, and other people could use their skills to create art relevant to that, and we would all work as a collaboration. As a team we could come up with a story line which always lingers but is never written down, a brand, colours and the rest of the products.
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.
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:
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 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.
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
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’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)
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 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.
– 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’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.
For a while I have wanted to get back into shooting medium format film. I love the idea that I could produce stunning cosplay pieces in the future in medium format, the extra detail and rang it gives you is phenomenal and although I am a digital lover as my work starts to mature I feel the right move for me is into medium format film.
For the Photography for your ears Phonar task I looked at the Work of Brian Finke, a photographer who only shoots in medium format.
Square framing has become a tabboo within “professional” photographers over the last few years, Instagram being the main reason. Most people now relate square framing with repetitive generic images and cliche filters. So I think now is a better time than any to use medium format and break away from the modern conventions associated with square framing.
Brian Finkes use of medium format compliments the conventions of square framing. Finke’s use of subject reflect on pop culture in America reinforces the reputation of a square that CD covers and Andy Warhol helped established. My cosplay work is about pop culture in Japan and medium format is something I want to use in the future with this, not only because of it’s detail as i mentioned before but also because of the square framing it inherits.
I also prefer the grain and depth of film and the chromogenic print, especially when viewed in a large scale, gallery environment.