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Exclusive: Takashi Murakami On Nuclear Monsters And Buddhist Damnation

Takashi Murakami's art has always sat at the crossroads where Japanese tradition meets contemporary culture. Often working in sculpture and painting, he recently ventured into the world of cinema with his first feature film. Inspired by the devastating tsunami that hit Japan in 2011, Jellyfish Eyes mixes live-action with animation and is a monster movie set in a post-Fukishima world. It centers around a boy who moves to a new town where he discovers the kids there fight fantastical creatures.

To bring these creatures to life, Murakami used CGI, noting in our sit-down interview above how the technology has only recently become cheap and effective enough for widespread use. The latest green screen technology and industry software bring Murakami's visions of a giant bunny, a jellyfish boy, and other strange beings to the screen, in a coming-of-age movie that updates the Godzilla trope for 21st century nuclear fears.

The film's theme song "Last Night, Good Night (Re:Dialed)" is by Livetune and features "virtual idol" Hatsune Miku, a crowdsourced music entity who plays to sell-out crowds as a projection. Murakami counts himself as a fan, recently directing the music video for her "Redial" song and providing art direction for a compilation CD.


Trailer for Jellyfish Eyes


Still from Jellyfish Eyes


Still from Jellyfish Eyes

Also in our interview Murakami talks about his recent exhibition at the Blum and Poe gallery in Los Angeles. In what was his first major US show for five years, the artist created his own take on Japanese art history, delving into the country's Buddhist heritage through sculpture and a traditional style of painting known as nihonga--all the while giving it his own unique, pop-cultural glean.

The exhibition, called "Arhat," takes the viewer on a journey through the past, present, and future of Japanese art, moving from Buddhist-inspired damnation infused with a manga aesthetic, to twisted monks and psychedelic colors, culminating in a massive anime gold skull engulfed in flames and Murakami's signature bright smiling flowers, before ending on portraits of the artist and his dog.

See images from the exhibition below and watch our video for more from Murakami on his art, film, and Japanese culture at large.


Arhat. © 2013 Takashi Murakami / Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


Arhat. © 2013 Takashi Murakami / Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


Arhat. © 2013 Takashi Murakami / Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


Arhat. © 2013 Takashi Murakami / Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


Arhat. © 2013 Takashi Murakami / Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


Arhat. © 2013 Takashi Murakami / Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


Arhat. © 2013 Takashi Murakami / Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

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