Vice President, Professor, Graduate School of Film and New Media, Tokyo University of the Arts
Curator of the TOKYO SCRAMBLE exhibition at Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2018

We curated a Japanese media art exhibition and screening focused on animation at Annecy 2018, the world's largest animation festival, based on the theme "TOKYO SCRAMBLE". We collected animations conveying the dynamism of Tokyo and the artists who work there―like the energy of a metropolis that changes daily, the variety of goods and people gathering from all over the world, and the immense tide of passion surging toward the 2020 Tokyo Olympics―in the image of a busy intersection, a scramble, in Tokyo's Shibuya district. Specifically, we included feature films like Godzilla Resurgence and Your Name, which are set in Tokyo. We screened and exhibited Tokyo-themed short films such as Koji Yamamura’s "Fig". We also exhibited Tomoyasu Murata’s three-dimensional "Family Deck", which is about an old town Tokyo barber, together with its elaborate set. From the field of media arts, we displayed "toki-CROSSING #01" by Akinori Goto, who expressed the motion of animation in a beautiful three-dimensional sculpture. Audience response was very positive, with comments such as "I was able to encounter entirely new works" and "I feel like there is a nurturing environment for a large variety of art in Japan." There were commercial works of art, artistic expressions, and both two-dimensional and three-dimensional art. By exhibiting and screening a wide range of installations and more, I think the audience could feel the attractiveness of Japan’s highly diverse and experimental animation as a whole, as well as its strength for continuous development. On the festival’s final day, an announcement was made that a Japanese feature would be held in 2019, and it is expected that there will be an increasing focus on Japanese animation.

Photo by
Bumpei Kimura

GOTO Akinori

Artist, Designer
20th Art Division Jury Selections / Participated artist of Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2018

I noticed that, unlike the contemporary art and technology exhibitions I've participated in so far, this being an animation festival, there were many questions regarding “movement.”
During the artist talk, I had an opportunity to chat with people from various countries over a cup of sake. It was a fun and stimulating experience.

MURATA Tomoyasu

5th Animation Division Excellence Award, 6th and 13th Animation Division Jury Selections / Participated artist of Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2018

During the artist talk, there were 3D creators who said that they were extremely interested in Japanese puppet animation, as they didn’t have many chances to experience it, as well as those who were impressed by having actual physical sets and installations in front of them. This exhibition was a great opportunity for a lot of people to see the diversity in Japanese animation.


Researcher / Artist
21st Entertainment Division New Face Award / Participated artist of Ars Electronica Festival 2018

Our work was exhibited at an excellent location near the reception of the main site. As a result, we had a large number of visitors who could enjoy seeing and experiencing our work. I felt that the event could be enjoyed by a diverse range of people of various nationalities and generations, as many families and children were there and multilingual guidance services were provided. The exhibition offered such a fruitful opportunity to discuss new ideas with artists in different fields.


Project Senior Assistant Professor at Keio University Graduate School of Media Design
21st Entertainment Division New Face Award / Participated artist of Ars Electronica Festival 2018

Demonstrating at Ars Electronica Festival 2018 carried a unique dimension of European contemporary and media art perspectives, as it was an excellent platform for bridging ideas among Europe and international communities. Since our demonstration was experience oriented for the participants, it received much attention and invoked several discussions with the artists and scholars. I discussed topics relevant to the future of human-machine augmentation and symbiosis with several attendees, and the potentials for expanding to new forms of applications.


Program Officer, Japan Arts Council
Planning director of XXIV Salón del Manga de Barcelona special exhibition at Lenguaje, objetos y bestias

The Salón del Manga is a convention held in Barcelona, Spain, with its main focus on Japanese manga. This year was its 24th assembly. Many manga and comic conventions are held worldwide, but for an event specialized in Japanese manga it was massive in scale, operating on a level not found elsewhere.
Keeping this in mind, we displayed about 130 original manga works. It is probably the first attempt in this project to display so many works abroad. As a result, thanks to the tremendous cooperation of the artists, local officials and convention staff, the dedication of VIPO staff, and the enthusiasm of countless others, it was a great success. I would like to express my gratitude again for such a valuable opportunity.
I felt somewhat uneasy about setting up an exhibition that brings some "critical thinking" to our display when the venue is a well-known fan event emphasizing product sales. But in actuality, many of the visitors responded well to the exhibits; they were fascinated and conversed enthusiastically, not noticing that slight discrepancy between the nature of the event and the venue.
The theme of the exhibition was "Languages and objects and beasts", and its intention was to make us think about "what a human being is" after encountering exhibits focusing on the non-human. At the same time, displaying a diverse variety of contemporary expressions such as animation and media installation as "media arts" provided the exhibition space with a unique look and the visitors with a new perspective. Furthermore, local media coverage of the exhibition may have helped to draw more visitors.
Taking advantage of this opportunity, I sincerely hope that the exchange of media arts between Spain and Japan will become even more active.


21st Manga Division New Face Award / Participated artist of XXIV Salón del Manga de Barcelona

Invited to this great festival, I realized anew that Spain has a very special interest in art. I felt the burning enthusiasm to create their own unique manga with works like “BLACKSAD” (*author Juanjo Guarnidois is Spanish) fill up the event venue. More than anything, their love for Japanese manga fills me with happiness. A tremendous number of Japanese manga are lined up on display in this large venue. It seems that there are authentic cultural ties between our countries that are not visible through TV news reports, etc. The cityscape, including Gaudi's architecture, is also glorious, and the fact that the whole country values aesthetic sensibility has been a deep learning experience for me. I am strongly motivated to reach out more to the world through the manga drawings I make in my small corner of Japan.

UNEMI Tatsuo

Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, Professor, Soka University
10th and 21st Art Division Excellence Award / Participated artist of XXIV Salón del Manga de Barcelona

I felt somewhat uneasy when I received a request for art work to be exhibited at an event focusing on manga and Japanese culture. However, as the exhibition concept called for a story created by objects, I think that my work fit in exceedingly well. Supported by highly competent Japanese and local staff, we were able to install the exhibit and conduct the necessary operations smoothly. I am delighted that there were a large number of visitors. It was also a good experience expanding the software to support the Spanish language for the exhibition, in cooperation with co-creator Daniel Bisig's friends. After that, I tried to do the same with Asian languages, but that turned into a lesson in the incredible diversity of cultures, such as the differences in the structure and meaning of languages, and furthermore the various terms of address and naming of people.


Co-director of MILL6 Foundation
(Planning director of Japan Media Arts Festival special exhibition at The Annex, Hong Kong)

This exhibition in Hong Kong, where media artists are quite active, attracted considerable interest and a greater than anticipated number of visitors. Its focus on media arts and human linguistic activity, physical expression, and the involvement of sensitivity paradoxically provided the main theme of questioning what it means to be human. This theme was clearly conveyed by the images and illustrations, as well as by the performances and demonstrations of the participating artists.

In their talks, the artists spoke of failure, the inability to achieve what they set out to do their artistry, and the unanticipated reactions from audiences, and yet they were able to reveal their true character that had been otherwise inscrutable in their art works, and they were indeed able to provide a human glimpse through identifying with one another by their recounting of failure.


Visual artist / 19th JMAF (Japan Media Arts Festival) Art Division Jury Selection
(Participated artist of JMAF special exhibition at The Annex, Hong Kong)

The Japan Media Arts Festival was a medium to bring together artists from Japan, Hong Kong and elsewhere around the world.


Comic artist and illustrator / 17th JMAF Animation Division Grand Prize
(Participated artist of JMAF special exhibition at The Annex, Hong Kong)

I am grateful for this opportunity to show Couleur de Peau: Miel (Approved For Adoption), being able to screen it at the JMAF exhibition Niigata, as well as in Hong Kong.

LAU Hochi

New media artist / 17th JMAF Animation Division New Face Award
(Participated artist of JMAF special exhibition at The Annex, Hong Kong)

It was an honor, a valuable experience and very meaningful to show Learn to be a Machine DistantObject #1 in Japan three years ago, and wasd human at the special exhibition in Hong Kong. Thank you.

exonemo (SEMBO Kensuke, AKAIWA Yae)

Artists / 16th Art Division and 17th Entertainment Division Jury Selection
(Planning director of Japan Media Arts Festival special exhibition at JCC Singapore)

We are presently based in New York for art and new media research. In undertaking to work on this exhibition, we set up a planning triangle between the Western countries, Japan and Singapore. In Singapore right now, we are seeing growing interest in the creative aspects of media arts, especially among the young, in a kind of “Make movement”. Japan has long been fascinated by the technology and may, in this sense, be considered to have had a head start. In the Western countries, conversely, rather than excessive faith in technology, the tendency is to view technology with a more critical eye. While examining the state of contemporary technology, (in this case, especially with reference to the Internet and smartphones), we sought not merely to heap unqualified praise on its qualities but also to select works with a critical awareness. Regarding the chosen theme, Landscapes, we chose works in the three categories of distant landscapes transformed by technology, newly emergent landscapes connected to the human body, and landscapes whose significance is changed by taking in the surrounding scenery. JCC, the venue, was located in the heart of the city but the Embassy windows look out on lush green grounds and this worked well for non-white-cube installation. Many young people visited the exhibition during the term. We selected works with an emphasis on movement and this meant all of them were hard to understand without the involvement of the viewer. Many branched out from the more usual focus on the “Maker” and also from typical Japanese media arts. Seeing those young exhibition visitors, however, we could sense their eagerness to decipher the works. The media arts themselves are also still evolving and hard to pin down to a single definition and we believe this was a highly significant opportunity to present various approaches to media arts and, in this way, offer pointers for the further growth of art in the fertile ground of Singapore.

TSUDA Michiko

Video artist / 20th Art Division New Face Award
(Participated artist of JMAF special exhibition at JCC Singapore)

The work changes a lot depending on the space in the end, I think I got it right.


Photographer, Artist / 19th Art Division Jury Selection
(Participated artist of JMAF special exhibition at JCC Singapore)

I want to carry on thinking how my work and photos will evolve elsewhere not only in Japan.

Sarah CHOO Jing

Multidisciplinary Fine Artist / 19th Art Division Jury Selection
(Participated artist of JMAF special exhibition at JCC Singapore)

This is my first time I can be a part of the exhibition with Japanese artists, and I’m the one from Singapore.
It is very interesting as well to see how similar our works are.
How similar my work and their works.
And also yet, there are certain differences between our works.


Artist, Director
(Participated artist of JMAF special exhibition at JCC Singapore)

There’s the relationship between the media and the background.
The borders have been blurred and it was fun.
Making these discoveries by myself now I hope everyone will notice the same things as me.


Professor of Department of Animation, Graduate school of Film and New Media, Tokyo University of the Arts
(Planning director of Japan Media Arts Festival special exhibition at tricky women 2017 in Wien, Austria)

tricky women is a festival of animated works by female directors held in the Austrian capital of Vienna since 2001. This is a small but exquisite festival where the competition and other works are of high quality, the festival directors and staff are extremely motivated and take good communication with the participants particularly seriously, and the Viennese audience is also very discerning. The Japan Media Arts Festival participation in overseas media arts festival presented both an exhibition and screenings at this film festival. The exhibition featured comics, videos, paintings, installations, live performance and other attractions by women artists across a wide range of media and the visitors clearly appreciated this introduction to the variety and freedom of Japan’s contemporary media arts scene. The direct participation of Fumiyo Kouno, who could be called the present face of Japanese media arts, was especially big and produced a lot of excitement. 12 animated short films and one animated future film were screened in the cinema. The audiences were large and appreciative and several distributors inquired how they could show these works abroad. The Festival, too, organized a Japanese focus on its own initiative to give this year’s tricky women a distinctly and excitingly Japanese feel. I am confident in saying that this whole project was a great success.
In addition to the formal participation, others Japanese creators whose works were screened were also eager to be a part of this and came at their own expense. This all became a most wonderful opportunity for the female artists. This Could be another achievement of the Japan Media Arts Festival participation in overseas media arts festival project.

KOUNO Fumiyo

Manga artist / 8th JMAF Manga Division Grand Prize, 12th, 13th, 16th Manga Division Jury Selection
(Participated artist of JMAF special exhibition at tricky women 2017)

I found it tremendously stimulating to see everyone’s video works and see so many women working different fields from my own. I thought comics were settling into fixed forms but realized here that we all have to be brave and try even harder to break out of our shells.


Artist, Illustrator, Filmmaker, Installation artist and Performer
(Participated artist of JMAF special exhibition at tricky women 2017)

I was determined to do something I’d never done before and produce something even better than the people who came to watch expected from me. All I wanted was for them to watch and feel it in their own way.

KUBOTA Akihiro

Artist and Professor, Tama Art University
(Planning director of Japan Media Arts Festival special exhibition at 12º Bienal de Artes Mediales in Santiago, Chile)

Being able to hold an event in Chile on the opposite side of the globe featuring selected works from the Japan Media Arts Festival proved more fruitful than expected. People in Chile showed not only a considerable interest in the Japan Media Arts Festival, they also showed that they were well-versed in art and able to engage in diverse and serious discussions about the featured works and their content. At the same time, it was also great to see Chile’s Media Art Biennale, which was already being held for the twelfth time. It has its own unique culture reflecting Chile’s historical and political background, while the open tools characteristic of current technology (such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi) and the pervading hacker ethic produced a wonderful ambience.

In conjunction with this event, I was also able to take up residence at the ALMA radio telescopes in the Atacama Desert. It was a very valuable experience. The very weak radio waves picked up by the 66 gigantic radio telescopes from the far reaches of space are synthesized and processed by ultrahigh-speed computers operating at an altitude of 5,000 m into stunningly beautiful images, which give an unreal (and yet real) sensation that can only be described as truly wondrous. It is an experience I would like to share with others.

Once again I would like to express my gratitude to the participating artists, the supporting staff and the people at the National Astronomical Observatory of Chile. I can only hope that there will be further cultural and artistic exchanges between Chile and Japan of the kind that invited us.

GOSHIMA Kazuhiro

Video artist
(Participated artist of JMAF special exhibition at 12º Bienal de Artes Mediales in Santiago, Chile)

The response from people in Chile was greater than I had anticipated, and they provided a great deal of frank and cordial impressions. I felt that I was able to experience a common enthusiasm and perspectives of the unknown on the opposite side of the globe. Thank you very much.

Alex Verhaest

(Participated artist of JMAF special exhibition at 12º Bienal de Artes Mediales in Santiago, Chile)

I am much honored to have been a part of the Japan Media Arts Festival overseas project. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to show my work in a wonderful setting and make connections with Japan Media Arts Festival’s overseas network of curators and artists.


(Participated artist of JMAF special exhibition at 12º Bienal de Artes Mediales in Santiago, Chile)

The local staff, despite the language barrier, put the utmost effort into showing the works to their best advantage. After returning to Japan, I was contacted via Facebook by a local artist who had been inspired by my work, and who wanted to use it is a motif for a new work. This event on the others side of the globe from Japan was an opportunity underscoring the importance of creating work and showing them to people and of exchanges.


Independent curator
(Planning director of Japan Media Arts Festival special exhibition at MATADERO MADRIDO, Spain)

I am happy we attracted so many visitors, partly because of the considerable coverage from the major Spanish media networks. I was pleased most of all by the comments of so many people who said that they had come expecting a so-called manga display, only to find something different, a field synonymous with contemporary art. I always wanted to show that part of this culture is firmly bound up with life, history, people’s lives, feelings of a delicate nature, as well as literature and art, that it is one field of the arts that constantly wants to speak as a person. This was not just a private little gathering of manga fans. This display was able to show the good aspects of a particular culture and we got to see links with societies with different cultures.

UKAWA Naohiro

Genzai (Contemporary) Artist / Professor, Kyoto University of Art and Design / Representative, DOMMUNE
(Planning director of Japan Media Arts Festival special exhibition at EYEMYTH Media Arts Festival, India)

Mumbai, India’s largest city, with its rows of high-rise buildings alongside vast slumified markets, is developing economically with each passing day and month! It hosted the Japan Media Arts Festival @ EYEMYTH, a festival portraying, as its name intended, the blending of history, tradition, and the media, as well as the frantic struggle between technology and the human body. We earned acclaim in being able to give performances before live audiences that were a honeymoon of modern technology and somatic impulses, which emanated from the whole body and soul of the performers as a source of creativity! The performances took place in a 150-year-old cinema, the Dolby Laboratories, and other venues symbolizing Bollywood, the South Asian movie capital. The art and entertainment of Mumbai prowls the slums, where the traces of human existence have seemingly become a city without ever having been cleansed! The place to which we were invited from Tokyo, which itself is beset by major problems, such as a dwindling population, the shifting of its urban functions to the suburbs, and decline of communities, the place we laid eyes on, was a market brimming with energy just like the markets in Japan after the war selling black-market goods! It is a market expanding without any kind of order . . . The fragrance of spices wafting here and there blending with the overpowering smell of cow dung . . . People peddling misshapen merchandise on the streets . . . Children hawking things they picked up in the alleys, as well as the beggars, beggars and more beggars . . . There were stray dogs, stray cats, and yet more stray dogs. It’s been a while since I’ve seen any stray dogs in Japan, but the ones in Mumbai vividly assert themselves, tenaciously surviving on the scraps they get from people eating at stalls. So is that the case? Was it the case? Were the stray dogs an important filter breathing life into the community, binding local identity and the community . . . ? The theme of the exhibition was “The Medium as Somatic Impulse.” The media and technology are both necessary, of course, and it is also vital for us to co-exist with the likes of drones, robots and artificial intelligence! However, a live catalyst like the stray dogs is the medium we Japanese perhaps require . . . Mumbai was very much alive!!! So what about Tokyo? And Japan? This tour provided much in the way of suggestions and issues.


Guitarist, daxophone player, and composer
(Participated artist of JMAF special exhibition at EYEMYTH Media Arts Festival, India)

It was first experience of India. Despite various anxieties, the displays and performances were concluded without mishap with the help of the staff. I have very fond memories about the Indian staff; they were very helpful and sincere, never once refusing any of our requests. And more than anything else, I was impressed by how everybody taking part enjoyed themselves. The audiences seemed deeply interested in the concerts. They provided a sense of relaxation, in the good meaning of the term, to my performances, and there was tension as well. I am convinced we were able to spend a good time together. The pleasure of learning about something unfamiliar is wonderful, and I am grateful for the pleasure of performing in front of strangers. I understand many people also spent a long time at the displays. I felt I was able to perform in Mumbai’s own unique atmosphere. Finally, I would like to express my gratitude for receiving this valuable opportunity, and I would like to convey my thanks to the local staff and staff from Japan, who were so helpful. I look forward to the day I can come again.

SAITO Hisashi

Sound Designer/Creator
(Participated artist of JMAF special exhibition at EYEMYTH Media Arts Festival, India)

The performance took place in the historic Edward Cinema built in 1818. Being a cinema, everyone was seated. But I was surprised at the cheering and the action coming from the seated audience to our electronic dance music, just like they were dancing at a dance place. India produces a lot of films. The people there are constantly watching films and there is a deeply rooted style and tradition of singing and dancing along to them. I spent some very fulfilling days in being able to have cultural contacts with local avant-garde musicians.

Lena (galcid)

Analog Synth Girls
(Participated artist of JMAF special exhibition at EYEMYTH Media Arts Festival, India)

The students attending the workshop in the Dolby Studio listened intently to our lecture.
Everyone laughed at the occasional joke. We were able to have to have a lovely exchange, with the students getting to touch our musical instruments and have sessions with us. The audience responded with cheers to the vibe from our performance at the Edward Cinema. It shows we certainly conveyed groove. The venue reverberated to calls for an encore after our performance. I’m relieved that we were able to convey our music without any mishap.

Neon (galcid)

Analog Synth Girls
(Participated artist of JMAF special exhibition at EYEMYTH Media Arts Festival, India)

In the workshop, I wanted people to get in their minds and get a sense of what it means to play an instrument, and how to incorporate a synthesizer in music. Their eyes were bright with excitement as they played, ultimately confirming how the synthesizer is the newest instrument in the world at large that must be played instinctively rather than with skill. It was not only a thrilling discovery for me, but I would be also be really happy if the audiences in India can go on and find something with it.

KUSUMI Kiyoshi

Art Editor, Critic, Associate Professor of Tokyo Metropolitan University
(Planning director of Japan Media Arts Festival special exhibition at FILE2014)

Sending Japanese artists to places geographically furthest from Japan has both tangible2014 intangible significance in terms of exchanges between people. If the artists weren’t sent, works that could not otherwise be installed would not be seen by people over there. Also, because artists and staff are on the spot for quite long periods of time, we have the opportunity to build up mutual trust that will surely have a positive long-term influence on the future of Japanese media arts. The impression I had from creators taking part this time is that their participation has given them a good opportunity to consider how people in other countries and regions view and ought to be shown Japanese media arts, and they also found the discussions on the Japanese side about setting accessible themes and displaying works more effectively extremely worthwhile. A systematic exhibition on a given theme serves the two functions of presentation to the outside world and affirmation of internal identity. The continuation of this work will, through accumulated trial and error, give concrete form to the Japanese media arts in the international academic world. In addition to the contents studied by individual artists, the use or non-use of systematic, self-aware packaging of exhibitions like this one will shape the future of the Japanese media arts.

MORI Shota

Videomaker, Performer, Actor, Craftsman
(Participated artist at Ars Electronica Festival 2014)

Participating in Ars Electronica Festival has given me a lot of hints for future creative activity. I have been influenced by how the foreign artists display their works, Skeletonics who took part with me, and also the works of Ei WADA. This was the first time I have really regretted not speaking English but I have connected on Facebook and so on with the artists I met there since returning to Japan and am excited to be putting the things we did at FIS (the Future lnnovators Summit) into practice.

NAKAO Tomomichi

Curator, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum
(Planning director of Japan Media Arts Festival special exhibition at SELASAR SUNARYO)

The exhibition at Bandung in Indonesia may have been modest by the standards of the Japan Media Arts Festival but I think it represented an important challenge in building for the future. Meeting the local staff and artists, and seeing the audience reaction at the opening, showed me again how high the interest in Japanese popular culture and digital art is. If this exhibition can now stimulate the latent potential of young Indonesian artists, then I think this has been a wonderful step.

YAMAGUCHI Takahiro (young2)

Artist / 15th Art Division New Face Award and Art Division Jury Selection
(Participating artist of JMAF special Exhibition at SELASAR SUNARYO)

Many unexpected and unimagined things happened in my first experience of exhibiting in Indonesia. It was overwhelming but certainly not in a negative way, essentially positive and a special experience. I was also glad for the exchanges with local young artists and coordinators.


Curator, Contemporary Art Gallery of Art Tower Mito
(Planning director of Japan Media Arts Festival special exhibition at Waterpieces 2013)

The situation is very different from Japan and the stimulating daily discussions with other artists and creators were a significant opportunity for me. It’s mind-broadening and very meaningful for me to be placed in a different environment from Japan. It also achieved a lot in terms of nurturing young artists and curators.