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04 DECEMBER 2008

The Cultural Economy of Ludic Superflatness

"Murakami's subsequent conceptualisation of superflatness links the flat picture planes of traditional Japanese paintings and present–day manga and anime, to the perceived lack of historical distinction between high and low cultures at this locale. At the same time, he believes that post–war conditions in Japan acted as key determinants for the subsequent use and symbolic function of pictorial superflatness in Japanese cultural production. Specific to his concerns are the infantilising effects of Japan's Constitution that has kept it a pacifist country. Superflat may indeed be read as one index of post–war kawaii (cute) culture. Anne Allison traces the rise and fetishisation of cute goods and consumptive pleasures in the 1970s and 80s. She argues that: 'Cuteness became not only a commodity but also equated with consumption itself – the pursuit of something that dislodges the heaviness and constraints of (productive) life. In consuming cuteness, one has the yearning to be comforted and soothed: a yearning that many researchers and designers of play in Japan trace to a nostalgia for experiences in a child's past' (Allison, A. 'Portable Monsters and Commodity Cuteness: Pokemon as Japan's New Global Power,' in Postcolonial Studies, vol. 6, no. 3 (2003), pp. 381–395.)."
(Dean Chan, Australia)



animeAustraliacomputer games and digital cultures • cultural economy • cultural productioncute • Dean Chan • designflat picture planeflat spacegameshigh cultureJapanlow culturemanganostalgia • post-war conditions • superflatness • Takashi Murakami • technologyWarioWare


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