Sometimes it is much easier that it may seem to get into a fairytale – suffice it to visit an exhibit of interactive media art. One of them was held on February 21-22 at the Ukrainian-Japanese Center of Igor Sikorsky KPI University with support from the Embassy of Japan in Ukraine. A well-known Japanese artist and illustrator, Mayuko Kanazawa, displayed her media art works. Her oeuvre is known very well in Japan, South Korea, and China, while Europe is only beginning to discover the Japanese mistress. Before Kyiv, she had only staged an exhibit in Berlin.
“THE WARMTH OF A DRAWING IS VERY IMPORTANT”
According to Shigeki Sumi, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Ukraine, interactive media art is a common thing in Japan. But it is rather a new phenomenon for Ukrainians. It is a trend, when an artist uses up-to-date technologies, such as computer graphics, animation, and virtual reality. Artists thus create new forms to implement their projects.
Mayuko Kanazawa’s project is her first solo media art exhibit in Ukraine. A special feature of her style is usage of drawings that look like book illustrations. “I consider myself an artist above all. While in the past artists used the effect of illusion to put something across to spectators, now I use the most up-to-date means to express this effect. For this reason, the warmth of a handmade drawing is very important to me,” Kanazawa says.
Each of her works is in fact a solid project with a large number of components: oil paintings, 3D technologies, built-in sensors, computer algorithm, and drawn animation. It is not without reason that the artist calls these works a “marriage” of technologies and art.
Shigeki Sumi also confirms this conclusion: “This art also involves science. But if we think hard and recall the development of traditional art in the world, we will see that it coincides with the development of science. For example, many know that there are frescos in European, including Ukrainian, temples. If the technology of these frescos does not develop, this art will die out. That’s why science and art go side by side.”
The result is a wonder. Everyone can come up to the projection and, by a wave of hand, the screen will get studded with a host of flowers or animals – accompanied by the sounds of living nature. The point is sensors catch any movement near the projection and trigger the necessary algorithm of animation.
One more wonder is a screen that shows a flying bird. When we stretch a hand towards it, the bird seems to alight on it. You can feel at such moments that you gradually get immersed in the virtual world of nature and filled with tranquility.
KAWAII AND PHILOSOPHY OF HEIDEGGER
This sensation proves that Kanazawa has fully realized her concept. The artist says: “The goal of my works is to ‘melt’ hearts and let people rest, for they are always overloaded and seem to be chasing something all day long and can’t relax.”
To do so, she chose the style of kawaii (literally: “loveable,” “cute”). All of Kanazawa’s works depict marvelous and defenseless creatures that fill your heart with love and affection. The best example of such works is the artist’s illustrations to the books Gift from Heaven and Bokupagu.
For the authoress, kawaii is not just a form of expressing ideas. Mayuko also aims to develop fantasy and believes: it takes strong feelings to trigger the imagination of people. Kawaii-style works are supposed to produce them.
Moreover, Kanazawa emphasizes that her works are based on the existential philosophy of Martin Heidegger. The artist says it takes at least three years to study it, which she in fact did when she was a student. “In simple words, existential philosophy is a branch of science that addresses the problem of what is real for man,” Mayuko says. “It is in my student years that I learned this concept of being. It seemed to me that the concept of existential philosophy was close to that of Japanese Zen. I took so much interest in it that I decided to make it the theme of my further lifetime.”
DEVELOPMENT COUPLED WITH ENTERTAINMENT
Kanazawa could not bring most of her works to Kyiv, but she demonstrated a video of her exhibits at her lecture. It is gratifying to see that the artist’s works give most pleasure to children. Mayuko stresses the importance of this art to the younger generation. “It seems to me that a child’s heart is tired of the attempts to control it with such phrases as ‘you must not’ and ‘you need not.’ And if you try to explain something to children in a light manner like this, the child will relax. Besides, he or she shows sympathy with little animals,” the artist muses. “In my view, in addition to receiving information in such a ‘soft’ way, the child learns to build human relationships and develop both in body and in soul correctly and skillfully. I think this development, coupled with entertainment, is a stimulus for children to develop adequately and harmonically.”
Apparently, thanks to such a depth of ideas, Mayuko Kanazawa, by contrast with many of our compatriots, does not apply modern technologies to create nonsense and warp the content. Instead, thanks to technologies, her works promote the development of fantasy and fill the heart with peace and love for others and for life in general.