E-Issue 07 –– AUH
Winter 2023-24

January 29th, 2024

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in Abu Dhabi/Dubai
  3. Cover Interview: Shaikha Al Ketbi on Darawan
  4. Rapport: Public Art in the Gulf and a Case Study of Manar Abu Dhabi
  5. Hashel Al Lamki’s Survey Exhibition Maqam Reflects on a Decade of Practice in Abu Dhabi
  6. “You Can’t Stand on a Movement”: Michelangelo Pistoletto Interviews Benton Interviewing Pistoletto

Winter/Spring 2024

Curators Interview May 14, 2024
AUH Embracing Change through an Open System: Maya Allison and Duygu Demir on “In Real Time” at NYUAD Art Gallery

About ––

    What We Do
    Editorial Board

Interviews ––

    Selected Archive

Open Call ––

    E-08 Seoul

Newsletter ––

Chronological Archive ––

    Selected Archive

Artist Interview November 18th, 2016
AUH Raed Yassin in Abu Dhabi

Editorial March 1st, 2018
AUH Abu Dhabi Is The New Calabasas

Exhibition Listing May 22nd, 2018
DXB Christopher Benton: If We Don't Reclaim Our History, The Sand Will

Artist Interview June 15th, 2018
TYO An Interview with BIEN, a Rising Japanese Artist

Artist Interview July 17th, 2018
TYO Rintaro Fuse on Selfies and Cave Painting

Artist Interview August 28th, 2018
BER Slavs and Tatars: “Pulling a Thread to Undo The Sweater”

Artist Interview September 1st, 2018
NYC Shirin Neshat In Conversation with Sophie Arni and Ev Zverev

Artist Interview September 1st, 2018
PAR Hottest Spices: Michèle Lamy

E-Issue 01 –– AUH/DXB
Summer 2020

August 1st, 2020

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in the UAE
  3. Pop(Corn): Hashel Al Lamki
  4. Tailoring in Abu Dhabi
  5. Rapport: Dubai
  6. Michael Rakowitz From the Diaspora

Fall/Winter 2020-21

Artist Interview August 23rd, 2020
LHR/MCT Hanan Sultan Rhymes Frankincense with Minimalism

Artist Interview August 24th, 2020
DXB Augustine Paredes Taking Up Space

Artist Interview August 26th, 2020
AUH Sarah Almehairi Initiates Conversations

Market Interview August 28th, 2020
AUH/DXB 101 Pioneers Ethical and Curious Art Collecting

Exhibition September 1st, 2020
DXB Alserkal Arts Foundation Presents Mohamed Melehi

Market Interview September 4th, 2020
DXB Meet Tamila Kochkarova Behind ‘No Boys Allowed’

Artist Interview September 7th, 2020
DXB Taaboogah Infuses Comedy Into Khaleeji Menswear

Artist Interview September 10th, 2020
LHR/CAI Alaa Hindia’s Jewelry Revives Egyptian Nostalgia

Curator Interview September 14th, 2020
UAE Tawahadna Introduces MENA Artists to a Global Community

Exhibition Review September 24th, 2020
MIA a_part Gives Artists 36 Hours to React

Artist Interview September 27th, 2020
AUH BAIT 15 Welcomes New Member Zuhoor Al Sayegh

Market Interview October 14th, 2021
DXB Thaely Kicks Off Sustainable Sneakers

Exhibition Review October 19th, 2020
DXB Do You See Me How I See You?

Exhibition October 22nd, 2020
TYO James Jarvis Presents Latest Collages at 3110NZ

Exhibition Review October 22nd, 2020
AUH Ogamdo: Crossing a Cultural Highway between Korea and the UAE

Book Review October 28th, 2020
DAM Investigating the Catalogues of the National Museum of Damascus

Exhibition Review November 13th, 2020
Kanye Says Listen to the Kids: Youth Takeover at Jameel Arts Centre

Exhibition Review November 16th, 2021
DXB Melehi’s Waves Complicate Waving Goodbye

Exhibition Review November 19th, 2020
DXB Spotlight on Dubai Design Week 2020

Exhibition Review November 21st, 2020
DXB 101 Strikes Again with Second Sale at Alserkal Avenue

Exhibition Review
November 23rd, 2020

AUH SEAF Cohort 7 at Warehouse 421

Exhibition Review December 9th, 2020
SHJ Sharjah Art Foundation Jets Ahead on the Flying Saucer

Curator Interview January 25th, 2021
DXB Sa Tahanan Collective Redefines Home for Filipino Artists

Exhibition Review February 21st, 2021
GRV MIA Anywhere Hosts First Virtual Exhibition of Female Chechen Artists  

🎙️GAD Talk Series –– Season 1 2020

November 1st, 2020
1. What is Global Art Daily? 2015 to Now

November 16th, 2020
2. Where is Global Art Daily? An Open Coversation on Migration as Art Practitioners

November 29th, 2020
3. When the Youth Takes Over: Reflecting on the 2020 Jameel Arts Centre Youth Takeover

December 20th, 2020
4. Young Curators in Tokyo: The Making of The 5th Floor

January 27th, 2021
5. How To Create Digital Networks in The Art World?

E-Issue 02 –– NYC
Spring 2021

February 21st, 2021

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in NYC
  3. Pop(Corn): Zeid Jaouni
  4. You Can Take The Girl Out Of The City
  5. Rapport: NYC
  6. Kindergarten Records Discuss The Future of Electronic Music
  7. Sole DXB Brings NY Hip-Hop To Abu Dhabi
  8. Wei Han Finds ‘Home’ In New York
  9. Vikram Divecha: Encounters and Negotiations

Spring/Summer 2021

Exhibition Review March 3rd, 2021
DXB There’s a Hurricane at the Foundry

Exhibition Review March 7th, 2021
AUH Re-viewing Contrasts: Hyphenated Spaces at Warehouse421

Curator Interview March 21st, 2021
DXB Permeability and Regional Nodes: Sohrab Hura on Curating Growing Like a Tree at Ishara Art Foundation

Exhibition March 28th, 2021
DXB Alserkal Art Week Top Picks

Exhibition Review April 1st, 2021
DXB A ‘Menu Poem’ and All That Follows

Exhibition Review April 5th, 2021
DXB A Riot Towards Landscapes

Exhibition April 16th, 2021
RUH Noor Riyadh Shines Light on Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Art Strategy

Artist Interview April 26th, 2021
CTU/AUH/YYZ Sabrina Zhao: Between Abu Dhabi, Sichuan, and Toronto

Exhibition Review April 27th, 2021
TYO BIEN Opens Two Solo Exhibitions in Island Japan and Parcel

Artist Interview April 28th, 2021
DXB Ana Escobar: Objects Revisited

Exhibition May 9th, 2021
LDN Fulfilment Services Ltd. Questions Techno-Capitalism on Billboards in London

Artist Interview May 11th, 2021
BAH Mihrab: Mysticism, Devotion, and Geo-Identity

Curator Interview May 20th, 2021
DXB There Is A You In The Cloud You Can’t Delete: A Review of “Age of You” at Jameel Arts Centre

Market Interview May 26th, 2021
TYO Startbahn, Japan’s Leading Art Blockchain Company, Builds a New Art Infrastructure for the Digital Age

Exhibition June 11th, 2021
TYO “Mimicry of Hollows” Opens at The 5th Floor

Exhibiton Review June 20th, 2021
AUH “Total Landscaping”at Warehouse 421

Artist Interview June 30th, 2021
OSA Rintaro Fuse Curates “Silent Category” at Creative Center Osaka

Exhibition Review August 9th, 2021
DXB “After The Beep”: A Review and Some Reflections

E-Issue 03 ––TYO
Fall 2021

October 1st, 2022

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in TYO
  3. Pop(Corn): Nimyu
  4. Ahmad The Japanese: Bady Dalloul on Japan and Belonging
  5. Rapport: Tokyo
  6. Alexandre Taalba Redefines Virtuality at The 5th Floor
  7. Imagining Distant Ecologies in Hypersonic Tokyo: A Review of “Floating Between the Tropical and Glacial Zones”
  8. Ruba Al-Sweel Curates “Garden of e-arthly Delights” at SUMAC Space
  9. Salwa Mikdadi Reflects on the Opening of NYU Abu Dhabi’s Arab Center for the Study of Art

Fall/Winter 2021-22

Market Interview October 6th, 2021
RUH HH Prince Fahad Al Saud Discusses Saudi Arabia’s Artistic Renaissance

Exhibition October 7th, 2021
RUH Misk Art Institute’s Annual Flagship Exhibition Explores the Universality of Identity

Curator Interview October 15th, 2021
IST “Once Upon a Time Inconceivable”: A Review and a Conversation

Exhibition Review October 16th, 2021
AUH Woman as a Noun, and a Practice: “As We Gaze Upon Her” at Warehouse421

Exhibition Review February 11th, 2022

Artist Interview February 26th, 2022
TYO Akira Takayama on McDonald’s Radio University, Heterotopia, and Wagner Project

Artist Interview March 10th, 2022
DXB Prepare The Ingredients and Let The Rest Flow: Miramar and Zaid’s “Pure Data” Premieres at Satellite for Quoz Arts Fest 2022

Exhibition March 11th, 2022
DXB Must-See Exhibitions in Dubai - Art Week Edition 2022

Exhibition Review March 14th, 2022
DXB Art Dubai Digital, An Alternative Art World?

E-Issue 04 –– IST
Spring 2022

March 15th, 2022

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in IST
  3. Pop(Corn): Refik Anadol
  4. Rapport: Istanbul
  5. Independent Spaces in Istanbul: Sarp Özer on Operating AVTO

Spring/Summer 2022

Curator Interview March 21st, 2022

Market Interview March 28th, 2022
DXB Dubai's Postmodern Architecture: Constructing the Future with 3dr Models

Exhibition April 23rd, 2022
HK Startbahn Presents “Made in Japan 3.0: Defining a New Phy-gital Reality”, an NFT Pop-Up at K11 Art Mall

Exhibition May 6th, 2022
Istanbul’s 5533 Presents Nazlı Khoshkhabar’s “Around and Round”

Artist Interview May 13th, 2022
“We Are Witnessing History”: Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian On Their Retrospective Exhibition at NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery

Artist Interview June 13th, 2022
DXB “Geometry is Everywhere”: An Interview and Walking Tour of Order of Magnitude, Jitish Kallat’s Solo Exhibition at Dubai’s Ishara Art Foundation

Exhibition June 21st, 2022
DXB Art Jameel Joins The World Weather Network in a Groundbreaking Response to Global Climate Crisis

Exhibition June 27th, 2022
What’s On in the UAE: Our Top Summer Picks

Curator Interview July 9th, 2022
IST Creating an Artist Books Library in Istanbul: Aslı Özdoyuran on BAS

E-Issue 05 –– VCE
Fall 2022

September 5th, 2022

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in VCE
  3. Pop(Corn): UAE National Pavilion
  4. Rapport: Venice
  5. Zeitgeist of our Time: Füsun Onur for the Turkish Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale
  6. GAD’s Top Picks: National Pavilions
  7. Strangers to the Museum Wall: Kehinde Wiley’s Venice Exhibition Speaks of Violence and Portraiture
  8. Questioning Everyday Life: Alluvium by Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian at OGR Torino in Venice

Fall/Winter 2022-23

Market Interview June 28th, 2022
How Pearl Lam Built Her Gallery Between China and Europe

Exhibition November 11th, 2022
“Atami Blues” Brings Together UAE-Based and Japanese Artists in HOTEL ACAO ANNEX

Exhibition December 2nd, 2022
TYO Wetland Lab Proposes Sustainable Cement Alternative in Tokyo

Artist Interview December 9th, 2022
DXB Navjot Altaf Unpacks Eco-Feminism and Post-Pandemic Reality at Ishara Art Foundation

Artist Interview January 8th, 2023
TYO Shu Yonezawa and the Art of Animation

Artist Interview January 19th, 2023
NYC Reflecting on Her Southwestern Chinese Bai Roots, Peishan Huang Captures Human Traces on Objects and Spaces

Exhibition Review February 9th, 2023
DXB Augustine Paredes Builds His Paradise Home at Gulf Photo Plus

Artist Interview February 22nd, 2023
DXB Persia Beheshti Shares Thoughts on Virtual Worlds and the State of Video Art in Dubai Ahead of Her Screening at Bayt Al Mamzar

E-Issue 06 –– DXB/SHJ
Spring 2023

April 12th, 2023

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in the UAE
  3. Pop(Corn): Jumairy
  4. Rapport: Art Dubai 2023
  5. Highlights from Sharjah Biennial 15
  6. Is Time Just an Illusion? A Review of "Notations on Time" at Ishara Art Foundation
  7. Saif Mhaisen and His Community at Bayt AlMamzar

DXB Christopher Joshua Benton to Debut Mubeen, City as Archive at The Third Line Shop in Collaboration with Global Art Daily

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Shu Yonezawa and the Art of Animation

By Sophie Mayuko Arni

Published on January 8, 2023

        Shu Yonezawa stands as one of the most promising young artists living in Tokyo today. With a unique approach to deconstructing animation into abstraction, she has held numerous exhibitions throughout Japan all while working for some of Japan’s biggest anime hits.

Anime culture is probably one of Japan’s biggest export. Seeing kawaii characters with big eyes, small noses, and oversized heads is quite common within popular culture, and quite a few artists have played around with this medium, such as Takashi Murakami, or in Europe, with Philippe Parreno and Pierre Huyghe. I see Yonezawa apart from the post-Murakami generation, as her practices focuses more on formal shapes of animation than commenting on the content itself. She has the ability to reflect on the medium from the inside out, having worked in the industry and the academic background of intermedia art. She graduated from Tama Art University in 2021, and thanks to technology, has the ability to bring together incredibly technical drawings and massive immersive installations.

Animation itself is Yonezawa’s core subject matter. She returns to the essential definition of animation as movement, and creates abstract shapes based on obake, the in-between character shapes that animators insert in-between frames to create fluid movement. Transposed to installation form, her deconstructed obake characters float within a blueness of ocean, in minimal settings.

At only 23 years old and with a Billie Eilish-like appearance, dressed in oversized sweaters, her tone is as soft as the character she draws. Having first met in Atami within the ATAMI ART GRANT festival, we later met at Tokyo Arts and Space (TOKAS) Hongo, where she held her latest solo exhibition following her artist residency.

The following conversation was held at TOKAS Hongo on November 25th, 2022.

1. Shu Yonezawa, Obake no B’ the movie (劇場版:オバケのB’), 2022. Installation view at NTT InterCommunication Center [ICC]. Photo: KIOKU Kezio & Azusa Yamaguchi. Courtesy of NTT InterCommunication Center [ICC].

2. Shu Yonezawa, nana no name(名無しの肢体), 2022. Video installation, exhibited at “OPEN SITE 7 ‘企画名’,” Tokyo Arts and Space Hongo, 2022. Photo: TAKAHASHI Kenji. Courtesy of Tokyo Arts and Space.

Sophie Mayuko Arni: I would like to start with your early childhood, and your first encounters with manga and anime. Looking at your work, I was wondering if you grew up watching anime.

Shu Yonezawa: Actually, not really. I didn’t watch much anime growing up. I think I was more interested in being outdoors, and I really enjoyed natural landscapes.

I would watch anime when the TV was turned on. I remember I particularly enjoyed Osamu Tezuka’s 火の鳥, Hi no Tori, "Bird of Fire" [also known as Phoenix]. It was the story of a phoenix bird that would keep rejuvenating back to life; that would come alive out of the ashes, a story of courage, rebirth, transformation, metamorphosis. Life and death were fundamental themes of that manga, I remember borrowing these manga books from my local library.

I didn’t watch much anime growing up. I think I was more interested in being outdoors, and I really enjoyed natural landscapes.

S.A.: Interesting. Where did the passion for drawing and art-making came from? When did you first start drawing? Were you already drawing in high school?

S.Y.: I started getting interested in film and filmmaking in high school. I was drawing at the time, but it was the really first time I became interested in taking digital images and videos. I remember always having an Iphone camera with me, and taking videos with my group of friends.

I couldn’t get the drawing app to work on my phone so I used the memo function on my electronic dictionary [very popular device amongst Japanese high school and university students]. I wrote many memos and fed them back to draw imaginary characters and make animation.

S.A.: An electronic dictionary to draw manga?

S.Y.: Yes! I took the pen and would digitize my paper drawings that way. I used the note-taking function with the provided electronic pen, and drew images pixel by pixel. This was in high school, I was about 16 years old then.

S.A.: That’s the first time I hear of this method. You clearly had an artistic inclination early in high school.

S.Y.: When I graduated high school, I had two choices in front of me. They are two completely different career paths: one was to enter a marine biology university to work in aquariums. I always had a fascination for marine life and deep seas. Another one was to enter art university, and I chose the latter. I entered Tama Art University in Tokyo.

S.A.: What did you major in at university?

S.Y.: I joined the Information Design department, which was a very diverse and varied department dedicated to intermedia art. It gave me access to all tools of image-making, from analog to digital. I learned skills related to graphic design, photography, printmaking, videography, editing, and video projections. I also learned some electric mechanical skills, like how to use an electric board. I felt that I now had access to the vocabulary of contemporary art exhibitions and multimedia installations.

3. Shu Yonezawa, Obake no (オバケの), 2021. Video installation, installation view at Tama Art University. Photo: Naoki Takehisa.

S.A.: Coming out of university, your first job was in the animation department of a production company, while freelancing for TV animation commissions. What has it been like to work in such a setting, producing animations that hundreds of thousands, millions of people will watch?

S.Y.: When I was in my second year at university, I already started working part-time as an assistant for an animation designer at a production company in Tokyo. This company produces visuals and animated videos for music videos and popular anime throughout Japan. It felt great to draw animation for music videos, I like the texture of commercial anime.

After graduating, I joined them full-time and started also pursuing freelance work. Working on animation for 映像研には手を出すな![known as Don’t touch Eizouken!, one of the most popular anime amongst today’s Japanese youth] was very hard at first but I was very happy to be part of this project.

When I was in my second year at university, I already started working part-time as an assistant for an animation designer at a production company in Tokyo.

S.A.: What is the process to create an anime video? Do you do everything on your computer?

S.Y.: Anime functions like a stop-motion film. A moving animation is made of individual still frames put together. You could say that the foundation of anime is drawing on pen and paper.

The usual frame rate [for commercial anime in Japan] is 24 rates per second. For TV, this frame rate is slowed down to create the TV anime method. We divide the frame rate by three, to obtain 8 frames per second. If you observe anime on TV, you can see each frame jumps from one frame to the next.

You could say that the foundation of anime is drawing on pen and paper.

4. Shu Yonezawa, Untitled, 2022. Digital work. Courtesy of the artist.

S.A.: Do you draw each frame by hand? 

S.Y.: I do, sometimes I draw on iPad too. From compiling drawings and sketches, the next step is digitizing the still frames. Then, I can start making the live-motion movement. There are specific softwares for this, such as the Unity game engine.

S.A.: For the readers, and for me too — I’m curious to know how you would define “animation.” Many people often confuse anime (moving image) and manga (static image) for example.

S.Y.: I see myself as much of an artist as an animator. I don’t mean the animator title as a job, or a profession, but rather, I view the concept of animation as central to my work. Animation for me is synonymous with creation. With animation, I can shape something out of nothing. I can create movement.

At its core, animation is movement. I can move my hand slightly, and create a hand movement. This very movement is a form of animation.

With animation, I can shape something out of nothing. I can create movement.

S.A.: Fascinating, and we can see this constant movement in your work. You define your practice as working within the “liminal” in-between space between animated frames. Can you explain this concept? I believe these milli-second glitches is called obake in Japanese.

S.Y.: Yes, this concept of obake [オバケ] is something I have been working on and a central theme to my practice since my first exhibition at Tama Art University in 2020.

Obake is present in every anime: it’s the name of the glitch, the abstract shape, that animators introduce in-between split scenes to produce a smooth resulting moving image. In-between two scenes with two characters, for example, there will be an obake of these two figures, but the characters will be headless or with very interesting, abstracted, body shapes.

I became very interested in obake: when you think about it, anime characters have no clue that they will become obake shapes. Anime characters are themselves a form of obake. Around 2019, I started to take screenshots of obake of animations that I was working on. I researched obake techniques, and based on commercial anime’s standard obake shapes, I created my own obake.

Obake is present in every anime: it’s the name of the glitch, the abstract shape, that animators introduce in-between split scenes to produce a smooth resulting moving image.

5. Shu Yonezawa, Obake no (オバケの), 2021. Video installation, installation view at Tama Art University. Photo: Naoki Takehisa.

S.A.: I would like to come back to this first exhibition at the Tama Art University’s gallery. One very important characteristic of your work is the way you exhibit your installation. You describe yourself as an artist-animator, I would add installation artist to your multi-hyphenate practice. You exhibit your digital animation as an installation, which is not something that is easy to do. You manage to turn 2D drawings into digital moving images and 4K videos, before entering the highest-resolution realm of all: physical sculpture,“real-life” installation. At this exhibition at Tama Art University for example, you showed an animated video that looked like a fish bowl on a monitor, with a bridge for visitors to step unto.  Can you walk us though this work?

S.Y.: Thank you, I always think of the ways my animation can be exhibited as an immersive installation for the audience. During my third year at Tama Art University, I created an installation entitled Swimmers. Swimmers really stems from my passion for the underwater world. My goldfish died in high school, and since then that feeling of loss never went away. I had known him my whole life, and lived with him since elementary school. I wanted to celebrate him for this exhibition.

I created a multi-screen video installation, based on my research on water tanks and aquarium displays. I wanted to display my animation in a frame that resembled its contents. I always think of where animations live.

5. Shu Yonezawa, Swimmers, 2019. Installation view at Tama Art University. Photo and video courtesy of the artist.

I wanted to display my animation in a frame that resembled its contents. I always think of where animations live.

S.A.: Is this a water tank?

S.Y.: Yes it is. The screen is below water, and the audience is invited to step on the self-made metallic “bridge” on top of this ‘pond of screens’.

6. Shu Yonezawa, Swimming pond, 2019. Installation view at Shibuya Le Deco exhibitio “#404 Near, Nowhere, Newtmpia”. Photo: Naoki Takehisa.

S.A.: Pond of screens, genius. Your animation work has characteristics of traditional anime, but also embeds regular video footage. You create a juxtaposition between real and imagined, and the obake shape adds a flair of abstraction to animation, an otherwise highly-figurative art form.

S.Y.: I dedicated a whole exhibition to the concept of obake, presented at ICC [Tokyo Opera City’s NTT InterCommunication Center] in 2020. Entitled Obake no B’: The Movie, this exhibition had many of my obake creations set across monitors in various landscapes such as desert, beaches, and seashores. The result was a multichannel video, capturing the moment when obake appears in space, and recreating what its voice would sound like. Stretched out over tens of seconds and drifting through space, the voices coming from the monitors overlapped each other. These overlaps always sounded different, because of the asymmetry of the length of videos looped on these monitors.

7. Shu Yonezawa, Obake no B’ the movie (劇場版:オバケのB’), 2022. Installation view at NTT InterCommunication Center [ICC]. Photo: KIOKU Kezio & Azusa Yamaguchi. Courtesy of NTT InterCommunication Center [ICC].

S.A.: Your practice also involves photography and printmaking. I’m thinking of your installation at last year’s ATAMI ART GRANT in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture.

S.Y.: My Atami exhibition also explored the concept of obake. I was interested in Atami’s landscapes and more specifically, the gaps in architecture in our chosen exhibition space. There were many holes in this staircase, which was all made out of concrete. I thought it would be interesting to introduce my obake shapes in-between these interior glitches.

I was trying to find something, a form, in the gaps. I took photographs of Atami’s iconic seashores, inserted characters that I draw and designed, and added my obake ghostly figures. The composition becomes a liminal space within a space, as if ghosts entered my prints.

8. Shu Yonezawa, Places where they are, 2021. Installation view at ATAMI ART GRANT 2021, Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. Photo: Naoki Takehisa.

S.A.: Atami can be an uncanny place, I’ve heard countless stories from artists who could feel ghostly presence in this town. In Tokyo, I also remember visiting the incredible Planet Samsa exhibition earlier in 2022, curated by Rintaro Fuse and held at Former Site of Odaka Bookbinding Company in Shinjuku, Tokyo. He curated an exhibition with more than a dozen artists, and included a beautiful video of yours, entitled Anima of extinction (絶滅のアニマ). The visual contrast between large high-definition monitors showing conceptual blurry animation and the abandoned nature of the space gave me a strong “liminal” effect.

S.Y.: Anima of extinction (絶滅のアニマ) commented on the process of animation itself: as I was explaining earlier, a hand gesture is a form of animation. In one of the videos, a character is adjusting and readjusting her hair, forming a repetitive movement. In the real world, this would be interpreted as a hand gesture but in the context of an exhibition, this moment becomes animation and art.

In the real world, this would be interpreted as a hand gesture but in the context of an exhibition, this moment becomes animation and art.

For Planet Samsa, I created two animations based on a dream I had about a huge explosion, that I could see in the distance. My friends, the grass around me, trees in the background, and bodies of all living creatures suddenly disappeared, leaving behind only spirits in the darkness. We were all in the dark, and lost all organs linked to physical touch. Yet, we could still sense and recognize other living presence when bumping into each other.

Based on this story, I created a two-channel video work with subtitles acting as dream diaries. Displayed on two separate monitors, the audience can detect the shapes of human presence, characters who exist in the same space and time. Like the dream, I wanted that loss of physical touch and inverted darkness to be always felt during the exhibition. Having the monitors in close proximity, tilted yet straight-aligned, made a big difference.

One of monitors showed a live-action video of a person stroking movements into empty space, and the other showed an animated character stroking another character. I wanted the images on the monitor to float in the air, side by side, like planets in space. I imagined what worlds could exist between these images.

I wanted the images on the monitor to float in the air, side by side, like planets in space.

8. Shu Yonezawa, Anima of extinction(絶滅のアニマ), 2022. Video installation, installation view at Planet Samsa, exhibition curated by Rintaro Fuse at Former Site of Odaka Bookbinding Company in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Photo by KIOKU Kezio.

S.A.: Planet Samsa is an exhibition I will always remember visiting. There are few exhibitions that leave you with both intellectual stimulation and emotional connection. The visual impact took over me — maybe that’s what happens when an artist curates an exhibition. Let’s jump to the present exhibition. Could you tell us about the present exhibition, a solo show entitled No Name at Tokyo Arts and Space (TOKAS) Hongo?

S.Y.: This exhibition took a few months of conceptualization and is part of TOKAS’s Open Site 7, as part of TOKAS’ Open Call artist residence program.

In-between two large video projection screens, the audience is invited to feel the presence of anonymous characters living, existing, breathing, and slightly moving. There are many layers of obake in this work too.

The way the work is installed was a happy coincidence. Since two projectors are placed behind the two screens, there are no shadows cast by exhibition visitors unto the projections. It made me think of how existence can disappear, how characters can also disappear, and the ways in which we should remember someone’s existence after they are gone. Shape and silhouette are probably the most recognizable visual memory of people’s existence.

When thinking about someone’s existence, the most important image should be to recognize the spirit of existence. You don’t need a body to think about existence and think that you exist, just look at the state of robots and Artificial Intelligence today. An entity can be in a relationship with other entities without physical bodies.

My video installation is meant to create a corridor-like vortex of existence. Someone was there, someone was present, but you don’t know exactly who and when. You can see the shape that they left behind them, like an abstract stamp on screen. My obake shape is like a soul’s fossil, it is proof that somebody was there in this space, with the visitor.

9. Shu Yonezawa, nana no name(名無しの肢体), 2022. Video installation, exhibited at “OPEN SITE 7 ‘企画名’,” Tokyo Arts and Space Hongo, 2022. Photo: TAKAHASHI Kenji. Courtesy of Tokyo Arts and Space.

My video installation is meant to create a corridor-like vortex of existence. Someone was there, someone was present, but you don’t know exactly who and when.

S.A.: This idea of presence, absence, and imprint is felt throughout the other works on view in this exhibition. There are some abstract anime glitches fire-stamped unto clear acrylic sheets.

S.Y.: These are from a new series of work, where I experimented with different materials to create obake-like shapes without drawing them directly. By burning targeted parts of acrylic sheets, I could create anime character shapes through the resulting holes. With spotlights casted on these vinyl sheets, the audience may detect other abstract shapes as shadows on the wall. The sheets are also meant to be lightly pinned to the wall, to allow for movement.

The medium for this work is “vinyl sheet, air, and pin” – those are the only elements needed for animation, when you think about it.

10. Shu Yonezawa, Traces of anime (アニマの通り跡), 2022. Installation view at “play_A” at at con_ gallery, Tokyo. Photo by Naoki Takehisa.

S.A.: Your work often incorporates recurring image of a young girl, nameless, anonymous, and perhaps lonely. Is it your intention to comment on the state of femininity in our contemporary age? Could you tell us more about this character, “No Name”?

S.Y.: It’s not my intention to only make video animations of girls only. My characters may look like girls, but they are not really. I view my characters as genderless: they can identify as boys or girls, especially for this exhibition [No Name], the idea of anonymity is central to the work.

When I look at characters, I think about the character as a human being: what does the character like and dislike? What are their different behaviors, and what behavior do they love the most? What objects do they collect? What belongings do they prefer?

To go back to the Planet Samsa’s work, you could say one of the character is clearly a girl. I must say there is more room to play with obake when drawing girl characters: they have so much more movement! Hand gestures and hair movement are more plentiful amongst women than men, at least this is my impression in Japanese TV anime. The caring hand gesture can also be seen or understood as a feminine caring touch.

I view my characters as genderless: they can identify as boys or girls, especially for this exhibition [No Name], the idea of anonymity is central to the work.

S.A.: Last question, do you have any upcoming projects you are working on, or would like to share with us?

S.Y.: I’m currently taking some time off after this exhibition at TOKAS. I first applied for the residency in February 2022 and have been working on conceptualizing and producing this exhibition since this summer. I don’t have precise plans for 2023 exhibitions yet, but what is for sure is that my next project needs to have a new exciting element. I’m thinking to delve deeper into video work, and make a narrative long-format video, that would bring my animation back to the storytelling realm. It’s still in the early stages right now.

S.A.: Thank you – this will be the first of many conversations we will have, I’m sure. I already look forward to the future exhibitions we can do together.

Shu Yonezawa (b. 1999, Tokyo) is an artist and animator. She graduated with a BA in Information Design, Media Art Course from Tama Art University. Yonezawa’s work is based on his interest in the physicality of characters in contemporary digital animation and the atmosphere of the spaces that these characters inhabit. Recent exhibitions include “no name”, as part of Tokyo Arts and Space OPEN SITE 7 | Open Call Program (Tokyo Arts and Space Hongo, Tokyo, Japan, 2022), “Obake no Bʹ: The Movie” (NTT INTERCOMMUNICATION CENTER , Tokyo, Japan, 2022), “Places where they are” (ATAMI ART GRANT, Atami, Shizuoka prefecture, Japan, 2021), and “AB,” a two-person show with Ushio Chicken (Shinjuku Ophthalmology Gallery, Tokyo, 2020). She was awarded the Student CG Contest Evaluator's Award, Etsuko Ichihara Award, in 2021.

Sophie Mayuko Arni (b. 1995, Geneva) is a curator and editor. She is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Global Art Daily, and recent curated exhibitions include “East-East: UAE meets Japan Vol.5, Atami Blues” at ATAMI ART GRANT 2022, Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. 

Many thanks to Oshima-san and TOKAS Hongo.

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