Backgrounds of Japan
House of Illustration, London
– 10 September 2017
The exhibition “Amine Architecture: Backgrounds of Japan” showcases an unusual approach to art in anime films. The exhibition in the House of Illustration is devoted exclusively to the urban backdrops against which the action of numerous successful anime films took place.
What you see for a fleeting three seconds in the background of a film, you can now view in detail in “Anime Architecture: Backgrounds of Japan”. As you peruse the cityscape of a fictitious Tokyo from “Ghost in the Shell” (1995), for example, it becomes clear why a closer examination of the pictures is so worthwhile. The images reveal an assemblage of high-rise buildings in cold blue tones, divided into three levels to form a night-time backdrop. The works of the artists not only serve as a means of communicating the mood of the action directly, they simultaneously portray the negative aspects of a megapolis – for instance reckless urban planning or the loss of identity for places and the people living there. Away from the actions that often tell stories about passion, struggle, love and heroism, the images form a narrative of their own, with a direct connection to reality.
Developed as part of a collaborative process, they have not one author, but are products of a large group project and often used other films and pictures as models, and so one of the biggest challenges faced by the curators was to obtain approval to display the works. No one person has exclusive rights. The exhibited works may be by-products and short film excerpts, but as protagonists in the exhibition they have an effect of their own and provide unusual insights into the development of the Japanese genre.