Interchangeable Icons – project description update

As artist Takashi Murakami would say, the world is becoming ‘superflat’, everything is superficial, art and products are made to be consumed without question. I accepted this idea; until I came across exhibition ‘Bye Bye Kitty’, even in consumer capital Japan, there are practitioners who are braking through the suffocation of ‘superflat’, and using their artistic voice to make the spectator think about the culture they live in. These artists are activists. Activism is an area I can see myself in, and most importantly I care about.

I will be producing images that could be considered activist work. During my trip to Japan starting April 28th I will producing the first edition in my new ongoing project ‘Interchangeable Icons’a project which comments on the changeable nature of female modern icons, inspired by Barbie and her many “looks”as well as modern icons Hatsune Miku and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and their consumer influenced “looks”.

The many variations of Hatsune Miku, digital pop star.

I have created a fictional character, named Ithaca after the desired Island in Homers Odyssey, to represent the pop icon and given her these four looks in their relevant Tokyo settings…
1. Product placement – Coca cola
2. Akihabara Maid
3. Sakura Girl
4. mahō shōjo (Magical girl)

This hyper-reality world exaggerates real issues to bring them to the forefront of the audiences mind and simultaneously make a political/social comment about how in order to succeed you have to become a living doll, do what consumers tell you.

This fictional story will take influence from writers such as William Gibson, Cory Doctorow and Ernie Cline, creating a project that presents a fictional story but has enough truth to be democratically accessible. My images will be self-portraits in order exploit and make an example of the self.

The spontaneous nature of Makoto Aida’s photographs show the vernacular low production images have in comparison to the fantasy approach of David LaChapelle. Looking at Cindy Sherman and Mariko Mori along side Makoto Aida for inspiration I am researching the relationship between image quality and truth. The snapshot style image has a more sensitive and realistic approach. We are more willing to perceive the content as genuine. The grain of the film and light bursts don’t naturally resonate within a clinical digital reality meaning we are more likely to presume it was made with less conviction. Although this is rarely true.

‘Body painting with koe in Stockholm’ (2004) by Makoto Aida
‘Warrior’ (1994) by Mariko Mori

 Shooting at twilight is another key aspect to the styling of this project, not only does it create a surreal nature but it allows the main light source to be the city lights and advertisements.

One of my test images shoot on a 1963 Ilford Sportsman in Coventry @ twilight.
One of my test images shoot on a 1963 Ilford Sportsman in Coventry @ twilight.

The project will be transmedia. In addition to the images taken in Tokyo I will be creating a figurine version of Ithaca, my icon complete with interchangeable clothes for the spectators to play with. Hopefully the figurine will be an original made using a 3D printer and will be a one of a kind that pushes my project to an interactive level. The figurine and images will also be supported by purikuram (Japanese stick photo booths, see image below) trading cards of the character in her varieties, the technicalities of how I will add value to the trading cards is my next step in development, as well as deciding if I want Ithaca and her figurine to be standing in the same position throughout, adding to the uncanny doll like nature.

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