Contemporary Art to the Metaverse: Takashi Murakami’s Poppies Journey

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New York (AFP) – Takashi Murakami is known for mixing pop art and Asian visual arts, but for his latest exhibition in New York, he is venturing into the metaverse.

During the show “An Arrow Through History” that opened this week at the Gagosian Gallery in Manhattan, Murakami builds bridges from traditional fine art and Japanese pop art to vibrant NFTs – the digital tokens that represent original works of art.

Murakami told AFP he is concerned that younger generations are obsessed with screens and “don’t understand contemporary art history”.

“They can enjoy very few things, but with the plus of augmented reality, the young people may open their eyes more and step into the contemporary art scene,” said the 60-year-old Japanese artist.

Lately, athletes, artists, celebrities and tech stars have been selling NFTs, which use the same blockchain technology as cryptocurrencies.

“When I’m working on a creative production, I don’t differentiate between digital and analog,” Murakami said in a statement from Gagosian.

“I always work in the context of contemporary art, and that context is about whether I can be involved in events that can trigger a cognitive revolution.”

‘In the metaverse’

With Snapchat and an augmented reality filter, visitors can be immersed in the exhibition space via their phones, standing between digital images of fish swimming among the physically real works of art.

“Japanese culture originally came from the Eurasian continent, and my concept was to go from there to the metaverse, shooting through the history of art with a single arrow,” Murakami said in the statement.

The metaverse is an immersive virtual reality that can be accessed with augmented or virtual reality glasses and is a concept that has been given a boost in recent years.

Sitting at home during the coronavirus pandemic, Murakami told AFP: “I was watching reality in my house, so that was a very monumental moment.”

“Every day was getting super stressful for us, we couldn’t go outside,” he said, but his kids were able to enjoy VR.

“That meant changing my mind to fit in with the next generation of my kids,” he said. “This is my first answer – the show.”

Murakami will also open a special exhibit at the Broad Contemporary Art Museum in Los Angeles, titled “Takashi Murakami: Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow,” featuring immersive environments and from May 21 to September 25.

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