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Media-art Show from Japan Defines Cutting Edge
You may watch them, touch them and even listen to them.

They are not just paintings, sculptures or songs. They are all of these things and more.

Visitors to a 10-day show of Japanese media arts in Beijing will be thrilled by the nature of these interactive art works, not only as viewers but also as participants.

The show opened August 23 at the Central Academy of Fine Arts Gallery in Wangfujing, downtown Beijing and runs through September 1.

The exhibit features more than 100 award-winning works selected from the annual national media arts festivals of Japan from 1997-2001.

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the normalization of Sino-Japanese relations, the Japan Media Arts Work Exhibition 2002 Executive Committee and the China International Culture Association co-sponsored the event, according to Fan Di'an, vice-president of the central academy.

This is the first attempt to introduce Japanese contemporary culture to China by exhibiting media art works including manga (Japanese comics), animation, games and digital arts.

Under the theme of "Fusion of Art, Technology and Entertainment," the exhibition offers an opportunity to experience the energy of Japanese pop culture up close and consider the future of this trend in China, Fan noted.

"The rise of Japanese media arts is encouraged by the Japanese Government largely because of its enormous commercial potential and its close links with daily life. Media arts, especially animation and comic books, are a huge market in China but are often neglected by people in the arts community," Fan told China Daily.

"Unlike Japanese media arts, Chinese new media arts, since their emergence in China in recent years, have placed too much stress on the conceptual side," Fan pointed out.

Another aspect that Chinese media artists are bound to envy is their Japanese counterparts' grasp of high technology. What impresses most visitors to the exhibit is the artists' use of high technology to create stunning visual and audio effects.

The installation and 3-dimensional project called "Protrude, Flow" by artists Sachiko Kodama and Minako Takeno is among the most fascinating works. It immediately attracts the eyes of visitors when they step into the exhibit hall on the first floor of the gallery.

Controlled by a computer system, a black magnetic liquid can "automatically dance" to any sound a visitor makes. When you whistle, cough or clap your hands, different shapes are formed in the liquid. When the sound stops, the shapes disappear.

The second floor of the gallery is filled with digital graphics (still pictures) and movies (motion pictures and animation). Two screens in two separate rooms show motion pictures and animation created by Japanese media artists, making visitors feel as if they were in a cinema.

On the third floor, visitors can enjoy Japanese manga books and play video games developed with cutting-edge technologies. This section of the show naturally attracts lots of children.

Liu Chang, a 13-year-old student, often felt bored when he was brought to exhibit openings.

"But this time is different. I can play games, read cartoon books and watch movies. I can do everything. It's a lot of fun," said the boy, who would not move his eyes and hands away from one of the exhibits.

A special concert and party with digital arts and music at the central academy's new campus is expected to be a highlight of the show. The event will star famous Japanese media artists VJ Daizaburo Harada and DJ Dragon. Beijing music fans will be able to experience the perfect blending of state-of-the-art media arts and digital music.

"Media arts are an important part of a country's contemporary culture, and it is a trend that many countries are organizing media arts festivals to foster media arts from all over the world. We hope the Chinese audience will enjoy the most advanced media art works and, furthermore, experience contemporary Japanese culture," said Seiichi Takigawa, chairman of the Japanese Computer Graphic Arts Society.

"Through this exhibit, I hope Chinese and Japanese artists will be able to exchange views and produce more excellent media-art works for the new century."

(China Daily August 28, 2002)

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