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TV animation “Mobile Suit Gundam” (Total 43 episodes) is one of top 3 Japanese animations. This position might be unshakable at least in this century. The work of 27 years ago is still continued making as sequels or related works. In addition, these are not just repetition of one pattern, but different works based on the world view of Gundam, which indicates the intricacy of the basic Gundam world. At the present day with value or interest becoming diverse, Gundam might be “common language” over generations. In the age of which relations between people are reconsidered, to grow such ” common language” is one of the important roles of art, I think.

A large-scaled exhibition drawing out the real enchantments of Gundam, “GUNDAM Generating Futures” is taking place in Museum of Contemporary Art, Sapporo, the largest art facility in the city with several galleries and an open-air stage surrounded by woods in outskirts of Sapporo.

“Whole Lotta Love” © SOTSU AGENCY, SUNRISE © 2O05 Odani Motohiko

Speaking of animation work’s exhibits, it’s usually something like fan-service, such as sales or exhibits of original celluloid pictures, making, setting materials, goods and so on. However, this exhibition is a contemporary art exhibition of original art works by inspired creators of Gundam ages, to look at “War”, “Evolution”, “Life”, which are drawn in Gundam.

Total 22 art works are exhibited; flat pieces by Japanese top creators, video works with many projectors, huge object, and media-art-like works. Also at the lobby of the venue, a work by Yoshiyuki Tomino, a creator of Gundam, is specially exhibited.

Here, I’ll write about this Gundam exhibition, with 6 exhibited works I selected, including comments from Motoaki Yoshizaki who is a curator of this museum. First, I asked “What is Gundam to you?” to Yoshizaki. “I was watching First Gundam in real-time in high school years. Just the same, the world view which was completely different from any other animations inspired me a lot”, he said. Then I asked about visitors. “A wide range of fans across various generations visits here. I can find more young people in weekdays, and families with children in weekends, and it seems that fathers in Gundam age are most excited about it, rather than they are showing to children.” Well, I see.

Inside, wall surfaces in the dark space are mostly with projector visuals, and video works expressed the universe are played. There is a full-sized object of “Core Fighter” at the center floor, which is a battle plane appeared in Gundam. These are the first artwork “Breathe upon the Universe” (by Yasunori Ikunishi x Yasunori Kakegawa x Kuknacke x Magic Kobayashi x Tetsuya Nagato). They bring the last scene of the last episode of Gandum in their work, and it reminds me of “the end of battle”. It was great real reproduction from the body damaged and stained to the instrument inside the cockpit.

“crash Sayla Mass” © SOTSU AGENCY, SUNRISE © 2005 Nishio Yasuyuki

Walking just from there and right after turning, “crash Sayla Mass” (Nishio Yasuyuki) appears. This is a sculpture work of a woman character in Gundam. The stringency is just overwhelming. Although you can’t find well in the picture, just the height is lot more than my tall. Sayla in Gundam was a character who shows her difficult nervousness, different from a pretty girl in most animations. The characteristic is linking to her conventional life. This is a character symbolizing the complexity of many Gundam characters.

“Psycho Communicator System” © SOTSU AGENCY, SUNRISE © 2005 New Type Technology lab.

I came across a broadish space. There is a “Psycho Communicator System” by New Type Technology lab (Flanagan Agency) (Hachiya Kazuhiko, Taro Maeda, Hide Andrew, Kankanze Sorubeunmu), using full space by the whole wall faces. This is an experimental space where visitors can take part in. The artwork inspired by the last scene of Gundam when children brought out their unknown skill pursuits the possibility of remote communication between human beings. The theme seemed to be a new generation called “New Type” grown up in the universe, which was drawn in the later half in Gundam.

“If This is a Planet” © Takashi Yasumura

Looking at the wall face again, I find the picture work “If There is a Planet” by Takashi Yasumura. This is an expression consciously regarding the earth surface as a “planet”. The world of Gundam has distinction between people grown up in the earth and people grown up in the space colony without knowing the earth. Does human being eternally think of the distinction?

“Space Camp Site” © SOTSU AGENCY, SUNRISE © 2005 Shinoda Tarou

“Space Camp Site” (Shinoda Tarou) is a work which cultivates plants by LED in egg-shaped clear balloon. This is also the idea from the process that people in the space colony in the Gundam world carry plants to Space. Real moss and fern are growing inside. It indicates future technology.

You can enjoy total 22 artworks like this, though I cannot introduce all here.

Lastly, Yoshizaki told me about highlight of this exhibition. “Of course, those who know about Gandum well can enjoy and feel the elements in each artwork, but also for those who don’t know about Gundam well, this exhibition provides high quality as a contemporary art exhibition with the universal theme, “War”, “Evolution”, “Life”.

I felt all the same. In addition, I think it is wonderful that “Gundam”, would venture to say just an animation for children, inspired a lot of people’s life and creators in an infinite number of fields such as pictures, design, calligraphy, and that as a result, such a large-scaled exhibition became possible. It definitely shows a possibility of art. This exhibition must be one of the most important Japanese contemporary art’s event in this century. It is still held at Museum of Contemporary Art, Sapporo till September 24th. Don’t miss it.

GUNDAM Generating Futures: Contemporary Art
Date: August 6th to September 24th, 2006
Venue: Museum of Contemporary Art, Sapporo
Open: 9:45 – 17:00 (till 17:30 in August) #Please enter 30 minutes before the closing time Night Hours: Open till 20:00 on every Friday
Ticket: Adult 1,200yen (1,000yen), High School and College Student 800yen (640yen), Elementary and Junior High Student 400yen (320yen)
# Within ( ) is group rates for over 20 people.

Text and photos: Shinichi Ishikawa (Numero Deux)
Translation: Yurie Hatano

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