Tokyo Midtown Design Hub 55th Exhibition
Digital Media and Japanese Graphic Design - Its Past and Future
Dates: Friday, January 29 - Sunday, February 14, 2016
Venue: Tokyo Midtown Design Hub (Midtown Tower 5F)
Tokyo Midtown Design Hub website
The basis for computer graphics was established in the 1960s, with the arrival of technologies such as pen plotters, line printers, and raster graphics. In this period, the aesthetician Hiroshi Kawano applied information theory to aesthetics to produce graphics with a digital computer for the first time in Japan. The art group CTG, on the other hand, took pop icons such as JFK and Marilyn Monroe as their motifs to prove that computers can be a medium for visual expression.
The 1980s marked the period in which the progress in the “quantity” and “speed” that computer could handle reached the level of human sight. Researchers and creators of three-dimensional computer graphics attempted to recreate natural phenomena through mathematical data and physical simulations (through mathematical and linguistic descriptions). However, calculations are not necessarily accurate, and inaccuracies give rise to inconceivable landscapes. The wrong answers therefore resulted in the discovery of new forms of creation. Led by pop music, which made an early transition to digitization, digitized moving images also gained popularity in this period.
After the advent of the micro-processor in the 1970s, the computer began taking steps towards personalization. This culminated with Apple’s Macintosh. While penetrating into the field of printing, Apple also positioned the Mac as a medium for expression. Symbolic was the bundling of the simple development system HyperCard into the early Macs. Graphic designers participated in the production of multimedia contents, which integrated audio, video, and text. The fact that development was possible using a single computer, helped to nurture a flourishing movement of independent creation, with a flurry of small-press floppy disks and CD-ROMs being published.
The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications approved the commercial use of the internet in 1993, and internet access began to be implemented at a full-scale from the end of the same year. The few examples of movements that bridged the multimedia of the early 1990s, to the internet of the latter half of the decade include Sensorium, the theme pavilion of the Japan zone in the Internet 1996 World Exposition (IWE ’96), and Aozora Bunko, the digital library project initiated in 1997. Due to the charge-free publication of contents, advertising became predominant on the internet, giving rise to diverse online advertising methods. However, the permeation of SNS services and smartphones caused the large scale deployment of online advertising to take a backseat from the late 2000s onwards.
It is hypothesized that 2045 marks the technological singularity, or the point where the development of artificial intelligence would explode to a degree in which the future becomes unfathomable. In other words, the hypothesis posits that nothing about the technology (or the social situation depending on it) after 2045 is predictable. However, is there no place for design in this discussion? Design and technology have progressed hand-in-hand. As such, design may be able to continue to act as an interface between humans and technology even if technology reaches the singularity. This section presents works that provide a clue to consider such a possibility.
This website documents the exhibition Digital Media and Japanese Graphic Design – Its Past and Future, which was held at the Tokyo Midtown Design Hub in January – February, 2016. It contains English translations of texts that were originally published as a book in Japanese, as well as video material and color images that could not be adequately rendered in printed form.
*Captions and interviews in movies are in Japanese