Chaos, Kawaii, and Cultural Memory

By David Bell.

Published by The International Journal of Arts Theory and History

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: July 3, 2014 $US5.00

The gallery arts of Masami Teraoka or Takashi Murakami and the popular media of manga or Sanrio Corporation’s Hello Kitty™ are celebrated for their ethos of inventive play, innovation, and novelty, and their immediate significance within their own worlds. Their sense of “newness” and provocations of discomfort or “kawaii” cuteness as aesthetic sensibility or social phenomenon fuel their popularity. But these frameworks have developed within a broader fabric of conventional practices. Each draws heavily on fertile precedent in earlier cultural stock. Each builds on practices, sensibilities and aesthetic tropes in ways that fuel reinvention while maintaining pictorial traditions and cultural sensibilities. In one sense, this phenomenon has practical implications for understanding learning and professional practice in these fields and for generating insights into the creative process in the visual arts. In another, it serves to sustain something of a “cultural memory” of significant values for making sense of aesthetic worlds and experiences. This paper explores the ways this interface between past and present informs the maintenance of persistent themes and appreciations in contemporary Japanese engagements in the visual arts.

Keywords: Arts Theory and History, Cultural Theory, Creativity

The International Journal of Arts Theory and History, Volume 8, Issue 2, July 2014, pp.11-21. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: July 3, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File, Word File; 350.284KB)).

Dr. David Bell

Associate Professor, Humanities, College of Education, University of Otago, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand