The three artists who came to Japan on January 7th of 2014 for the “Animation Artists in Residence Tokyo 2014” program, Michael Frei (Switzerland), Ofra Kobliner (Israel), and Tomasz Popakul (Poland), returned to their countries on March 17th after having completed their 70 day residence. During their stay in Tokyo they enthusiastically participated in the various planned educational and cultural exchange programs while continuing to work on their individual projects. The educational programs included three meetings at which they received comments from their advisors, a visit to the atelier of an animation artist, and three visits to studios to see animation in production. The cultural exchange segment of the program included participation in events such as the Japan Media Arts festival and the Yebisu International Festival for Arts and Alternative Visions, an exchange event with students at an educational institution, screening/project presentation events in Kobe and Kyoto, and a final presentation on the results of the program. While introducing their own works and the projects they were working on as part of this program, the invited artists built bonds of friendship and intercultural exchange with many Japanese animation creators, visual artists, and other individuals involved in these fields. The visiting artists will complete the works they began during their stay (Michael Frei’s “Kids,” Ofra Kobliner’s “Shika (SHIKA),” and Tomasz Popakul’s “Black”) after returning to their home countries. The advisors who supervised them during the program were Sonoko Kifune (Animation artist/Professor, Tokyo Polytechnic University Faculty of Fine Arts Department of Animation), Tatsutoshi Nomura (Animation artist/Associate Professor, Tama Art University Faculty of Art and Design Department of Graphic Design), and Taku Furukawa (Animator/Visiting Professor, Tokyo Polytechnic University Faculty of Fine Arts). The progress of this year’s program is described below.
January 11th (Sat.)
First educational event
First meeting between the three selected artists, the program advisors (Sonoko Kifune, Tatsutoshi Nomura and Taku Furukawa) and Chief Senior Specialist for Arts and Culture at the Agency for Cultural Affairs Tomonori Saeki.
January 25th (Sat.)
Visit to Yamamura Animation
The artists visited the Atelier of animator Koji Yamamura (Animation artist/Professor of animation at the Tokyo University of the Arts Graduate School of Film and New Media). Visiting Mr. Yamamura’s workspace they learned about various aspects of his work such as his production process and the materials he uses and listened to him talk about his distinctive production style and approach to creating art.
February 3rd (Mon.)
Second educational event
The three invited artists gave presentations on the progress of their projects using sketches and test animations. After their having presented these concrete materials, extensive questions and advice were then exchanged between them and their advisers. These presentations also doubled as practice for the screenings and production presentations in the Kansai area scheduled for February 21st and 22.
February 4th (Tue.) Place: The National Art Center, Tokyo
Participation in the preview event, awards presentation, and gala of the 17th Japan Media Arts Festival
The invited artists met individuals connected to the Agency for Cultural Affairs as well as animation artists and film festival programmers from both Japan and overseas, and were given the opportunity to become acquainted with many people involved in the field of animation.
February 6th (Thu.) Place: Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
Preview screening and reception at the 6th Annual Yebisu International Festival for Art & Alternative Visions
The invited artists viewed works being screened at the festival and attended an opening/reception event. They met curators and others involved in the field of moving images in Japan as well as filmmakers and contemporary artists from Japan and overseas.
February 17th (Mon.)
Visit to ROBOT CAGE
The invited artists visited the offices of ROBOT CAGE, a company that includes animation artists and produces art animation in addition to commercial animation. They received practical explanations about various production sections, and watched a diverse selection of works that had been created by this company in the past as well as “Golden Time”, the latest film by Takuya Inaba. They exchanged ideas and opinions with animation artists Takuya Inaba and Osamu Sakai and several producers at Robot Communications Inc.
February 18th (Tue.)
Visit to the Tokyo University of the arts Graduate School of Film and New Media Animation Department
The visiting artists conducted screenings of their previous works, production presentations and question and answer sessions with approximately twenty students in the Tokyo University of the arts Graduate School of Film and New Media Animation Department. They viewed previews of the graduate students’ first year and graduation projects and exchanged ideas and opinions with these student filmmakers. The students’ films also gave them ideas for the works they were in the midst of creating.
February 19th (Wed.)
Visit to Studio4℃
As requested by one of the invited artists, Tomasz Popakul, all three visited Studio4℃, a studio that produces moving image works with an emphasis on animation such as “Tekkonkinkreet” and “Mind game”. While looking at original background art they listened to director Michael Arias, character designer Shoujirou Nishimi, and art director Shinji Kimura talk about the creation of “Tekkonkinkreet”, and they also received practical explanations of various aspects of the studio production environment.
February 21st (Fri.) 18:30〜21:00 Place: Kobe Art Village Center
Global Independent Animation 2014 in Kansai (Kobe)
An event at which works by the three invited artists were screened and presentations on their plans for their residence were given was staged in cooperation with Kobe Art Village Center. Afterwards an exchange event was held at which the artists and participants shared their thoughts and opinions.
February 22nd (Sat.) 16:00〜18:30 Place: Kyoto Art Center
Global Independent Animation 2014 in Kansai (Kyoto)
An event at which works by the three invited artists were screened and presentations on their plans for their residence were given was staged in cooperation with Kyoto Art Center. Afterwards an exchange event was held at which the artists and participants exchanged ideas and opinions.
February 24th (Mon.)
Visit to the IKIF+ studio
Using extracts and making-of footage and of some of their major works such as “Kingdom” 2nd series and “Innocence”, IKIF (Sonoko Kifune and Tokumitsu Kifune) explained their production style to the artists. They also visited different sections within the studio, and along with receiving an explanation of the production system got to meet and interact with young members of the production staff.
March 7th (Fri.)
Third educational event
The three invited artists discussed their plans to complete their projects and received guidance from their advisors, and prepared their presentations for their final project presentation events.
March 14th (Fri.) 17:00 – 20:20 Place: ASTUDIO (Aoyama Gakuin)
Project Presentation Event
Along with a general audience, individuals involved in the field of animation or connected to the Agency for Cultural Affairs were invited to this event held at ASTUDIO (Aoyama Gakuin). After a greeting from the organizers was given by Commissioner for Cultural Affairs Seiichi Kondo, Japan Image Council Executive Director Hiroyuki Ikeda described the program and gave a report on its progress, and the three artists then screened and discussed the works they had created during their stay in Japan. In the second part of the event the three program advisors (Sonoko Kifune, Tatsutoshi Nomura, and Toku Furukawa) held a panel discussion in which they talked about the results and content of the program while sharing their thoughts and feelings about their experience advising the invited artists.
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