ISEA2011 PANEL: Body Image to/from Media Rethinking Japanese Avant-Garde Art

Body Image to/from Media: Rethinking Japanese Avant-Garde Art

Chair: Rie Saito
2nd Chair: Miyuki Endo
3rd Chair: Machiko Kusahara

The presentation will mainly focus on the postwar Japanese avant-garde art. Three topics will be presented to reconsider the body image in contemporary arts, especially from the view of media and the art as a performance. The work of Atsuko Tanaka from GUTAI, Katsuhiro Yamaguchi and the work of Kenji Yanobe will be examined. Through these three presentations, the importance of Japanese postwar avant-garde art will be clarified and how they affected the current art will be discussed in detail.
The Consequences pf GUTAI Movement in Japan and its Influence in the Art Scene: Towards New Understanding of Current Media Art
by Rie Saito

Is contemporary art still functioning as a role to propose an issue in a current society? In a complex world like today, it is difficult to answer this question and to think about the relationship between art and society. However, when thinking about the art movement that occurred after postwar in Japan, it is obvious that the specific intention and certain actions happened in a chaotic situation. One of the most important movement took place in Japan was GUTAI.

This paper will investigate GUTAI movement in the 1950s and the correlation with today’s media art. The first reason why it is important to reconsider GUTAI is its uniqueness of the movement. For example, Atsuko Tanaka, one of the female members internationally known from her work in “Electric Dress” was the most successful person in GUTAI, although it was not easy for her to pursue her work.  How contemporary art reacted to society from the personal point of view and how it connected to public are the themes of this paper.

The second reason is the importance to rethink about the prehistory of media art. It is critical to examine the postwar avant-garde art movement such as GUTAI to understand how it affected today’s media art, especially in Japan.

The paper will explore about GUTAI and Japanese avant-garde art from the 1950s to 1970s, from cultural and sociological point of view, to reconsider contemporary role of art and the relationship between culture and society. The paper will opena new path for understanding media art in today’s situation.
Bios of the Participants
Rie Saito has been specializing her research in the field of contemporary arts, media arts and cultural studies as a Ph.D. candidate at WASEDA University. After working for a PR Marketing in IBM Japan, she graduated her master course at Tokyo Univ. of the Arts and wrote a highly acclaimed dissertation whose the title was “An Experimental Approach in the Video Works of Pipilotti Rist and the Query of the Public and Private in Video Installation”.

She has been working as a research assistant at Tokyo University of Arts and as a Global COE Associate Fellow at The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, WASEDA University, Global COE Program (International Institute for Education and Research in Theatre and Film Arts).  Her research method mainly consists of fieldwork and she has done many on-site research and interviews. Also, she has involved in various art projects, art festivals such as CREAM: International Festival for Arts and Media YOKOHAMA 2009 and has curated video art exhibitions in Japan. In 2010, as a member of Malaysia – Japan Video Art Exchange II, she carried out a research on Malaysian video art, communicated and interviewed with artist in Malaysia, volunteered organizing the event and workshop.  She is a winner of EUIJ WASEDA (The European Union Institute in Japan WASEDA) 2010 Research Scholarship and has done an thorough investigation of media arts in Europe last year.

Miyuki Endo is enrolled in master’s course of the graduate school of Letters, Arts and Science, in Waseda University, Japan. Her research area is moving and still image in contemporary art, and also the relationship between arts and society.

Machiko Kusahara is Professor at the School of Culture, Media and Society, Waseda University, and Visiting Scholar at the Art | Sci Center, UCLA. Her research focuses on the interplay between media culture, technology, and society. Since mid 1980s she curated and wrote internationally in the field of digital art, and served as a jury for Ars Electronica, SIGGRAPH, ISEA, among many others. She has written about both early visual media and contemporary media art. Her writings have been published internationally. Prof. Kusahara holds Ph.D from University of Tokyo.

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Posted by:  Ebru Surek