Monday, June 23, 2008

Anime in Fine Art: Past, Present, Future

I'm almost done writing my lecture for Fourth of July weekend at Portcon Maine.
Heres the jist.

In the western world, "Animé art" is a thing, but it's wholly removed from "Fine Art." "Animé Art" often refers to a style- animé styled art- functional in the massive leagues of amateur (and sometimes professional) mangaka, fanartists, and cartoonists. But there are numerous examples of animé appearing in fine art and fulfilling a role much greater than simply being "animé style."
I group them into three categories: Animé revered through Fine Art (Past), Animé used in Fine Art (Present), and Animé as Fine Art (Future).

Animé revered through Fine Art (Past)
Over the years, in the West, Animé has gained status as a legitimate art form. In turn, those marked as pioneers and champions of the medium come to be revered and honored, and their memorabilia, through their cultural value, attain the status of artwork. In a Duchampian "If it's in the Gallery, it is art," manner, when the west puts your illustrations in a gallery, they gain the "importance" of fine art.

Animé used in Fine Art (Present)
Animé, with its own very heavy stereotypes and stigmas, is sometimes used as a tool by an artist. It avoids being the subject by serving something loftier and more abstract. Its success hinges on assuming what the West recongnizes as "animé-ness" and what its implications are. The use of animé in the art can be either mocking or of reverence to the media.

Animé as Fine Art (Future)
Finally, there has been no shortage of late of artists using Fine Art to examine Animé, making Animé the unabashed subject of their work. A new school of Japanese artists in particular are declaring the implications and meanings of their native medium. Through work that emulates not only the style, but the spirit of anime, they call for the accountability of the culture and visuality of Otaku and Animé.

In My Work, I seek to approach animé as I know it: though Western eyes, and a fan's eyes.
I would fall then in group two, treating animé as a phenomenon of the present and using it as an aspect, not a subject, of my work. But I also seek to treat it with a mature reverence that goes beyond the animé stereotypes and draws on the aspects of the medium that have effected me, including the roles of females, the visual style of opening themes, and the visual flatness of color.

If you're in the New England Area, I recommend checking out Portcon Maine, a Four-Day Animé and Gaming Festival in Portland, Maine, July 3-6, 2008. My lecture will be on Friday, July 4 at 10 AM.

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