Art unit CHAOS*LOUNGE, known for its approach utilizing a critical stance towards contemporary Japanese art, is here at F/T making its first foray into “theatre”, following success in the online and otaku art fields. The stage for this work is the sacred ground of Japan’ s otaku geeks, Akihabara, now like a subculture theme park. It’ s an area where key examples of Japanese pop culture are created, but also a site of mass consumption and consumerism. What mark has 3.11 and the Fukushima nuclear crisis left on local subculture? CHAOS*LOUNGE will investigate this question using countless “characters”.

3.11 was a rude awakening from our gentle slumbers. The suffering brought on by the earthquake and subsequent Fukushima disaster saddled our country with its most extreme problems since the end of the war. It was a concrete summons bringing us into the present. We need to open our eyes and change. But how? What I want to know is what happened in Japan, in us? And what form are we and Japan taking? To draw our starkest self-portrait yet, we have created something in Akihabara.

Yohei Kurose


The CHAOS*LOUNGE Manifesto was written in March 2010. It is a document written after the end of the 2000s - called the “Zero Years” in Japanese - which, compared to the Nineties, was a decidedly poor decade, both culturally and economically. The declaration contraposes the contemporary art of the 2000s with the so-called digital “architecture” created by the cultural scene of online communities and Internet services - such as Nico Nico Douga, pixiv, Twitter, Tumblr and so on - and looks at the possibilities the latter creates for new forms of art.

The implication is that the young otaku shutting himself up in his room to create earnest illustrations and upload them to pixiv, or the “artisans” who, on top of their regular jobs, edit fan anime videos and upload them to Nico Nico Douga, these people are the movers of the art of the post-2010 decade. Of course, art is not something that just exists in a culture, and those illustrations and videos populating the Web are also not art, nor are the creators artists. Needless to say, the name “wild art” is a semantic contradiction.

And then why, even so, was the CHAOS*LOUNGE Manifesto written and put into practice through an exhibition- That is because the activities of the Manifesto and the CHAOS*LOUNGE unit were actually those of criticism: real art is always critical and criticism is the reversal of values. The tedium of the art of the Japanese 2000s sought to be real art and yearned for a reversal of values through criticism. The CHAOS*LOUNGE Manifesto is written as a highly radical critique born out of the self-awareness of this 2000s culture.

Exactly one year after the CHAOS*LOUNGE Manifesto uncovered the possibilities in the intercrossing consumption and circulation of otaku culture and online culture, the March earthquake and tsunami hit us. Post-2010 Japan became a “post-3.11” world and the form of the overall value-reversing culture also totally changed. Online culture did not alter reality but kept pushing for otaku culture to confront this post-3.11 world.

“Otakus are going about their normal lives with no connection to the disaster. It is this never-ending ordinary life that is venerable.” This is the conclusion that was reached. Seemingly the original CHAOS*LOUNGE Manifesto has no validity as criticism anymore. We should surely make a new declaration, yes? No, that is not necessary. A “declaration” is merely the style of tedious 2000s culture. After 3.11 what has become clear is that there are aspects of the otaku that will not change even after the catastrophe, a rather regretful part of digital Japan where an indigenous system becomes simply peer pressure. In such a “bad place”, the situation evolves steadily towards an “animalized” world.* (The fact that it has become clear that most of the much-hyped numerous post-3.11 demos and anti-nuclear artist performances have in the end given no consideration to a Japanese revolutionary vision, that they have been merely blind travesties of a bourgeois revolution, is a real sign of grave “animalization”. They are a phenomenon that should be understood in the same way as the August riots in England, a symbol of the globalized dispersal of “animalization”.)

We must not make declarations. We must make inquiries. What are the possibilities for art after the era of “animalization”? In the midst of this “animalized” world, the opportunity for constructing relations between society and the individual, and chief of all for the function seemingly possessed by “art”, can only be discovered in subcultures. Japan has attested to this more than anywhere else. Pre-3.11, post-3.11, this will not change, nor attempt to change.

And what about those who remain inside otaku subculture and disregard the problems of otaku self-consciousness? What of those who re-set the regretful Japanese Web and support the Japanese digital subculture? Probably there is the area where there is the technology for intervening in the “animalistic” part of humanity and where high culture “art” presupposed on “human” communication cannot arrive. This territory will be defined as a new art, and the art of the post-“animalized era” will here be put into practice.

Yohei Kurose

Nico Nico Douga: a Japanese version of YouTube, noted for its intuitive embedding of user comments, streaming across the video footage at the point when posted

Otaku: a “geek”, especially one fanatical about a certain subculture, such as manga, video games, pop “idols”, or anime

Pixiv: an art-sharing website

*It was art critic Noi Sawaragi who first described Japanese art as a series of ahistorical events in a “bad place” (warui basho), lacking a chronology in art and so somewhere where modern categorizations are easily resolved. “Animalization” (doubutsuka) is a reference to cultural critic Hiroki Azuma’s famous analysis of pop culture through a postmodern frame.

The Manifesto of CHAOS*LOUNGE (2010)

In the decade since the year 2000 contemporary art in Japan has produced nothing.

Now, the vista that faces us is merely an image of a domestic art market that is not there, one that mimics the rise of western art fairs, merely a charity infinitely repeating itself on a diet of government sponsorship.

This Japanese art scene landscape has been formed through an utter neglect of inquiry into the Japanese art forced out at the start of the 2000s, that of so-called “Japan Year Zero”, otaku, and “Superflat”.

Our lifestyles have been continually transformed by the development of information technology, and surprisingly it was interpreted optimistically in the art world as something to bridge the gap between Japan and the rest of the globe.

Japanese art gave up being a real culture.

By supplying those “objects” of the culture, Japanese artists have turned away from the information sphere, exposing themselves to the activities of a raw culture. Given status by the mysticism of unwarranted art, they are simultaneously enclosed as skillful artisans.

Once again, the “bad place” has been disguised.

CHAOS*LOUNGE never showed itself during the last decade, as it was aware that the world was actually a wasteland.

CHAOS*LOUNGE existed online together with the changing infrastructures that we call the architecture of the Web: Google, 2channel, mixi, Flickr, YouTube, Nico Nico Douga, Twitter, Tumbler, and so on.

It was a whirlpool of constant vast, anonymous imagination, a place of non-art art and non-content content appearing and disappearing. Nonetheless, it was also a place for the masses, finally waking up to their authorship, to gather together.

This continually proliferating world does not recognize the mysticism of art. Everything is visualized, classified and operable.

Now nothing is internal; intellect and sensibility - everything is assembled systematically on the digital architecture.

Human interiority evaporates through the technological intervention of this architecture.

The artists born out of CHAOS*LOUNGE, however, even then still never broke out into the real world, since they knew that the things being created there were not art.

They completely accept technological intervention via Web architecture. In art there is no mystique. Human intellect, sensibility, and interiority are all describable via technology.

However, they experiment in intervening further in the results of this digital intervention. They accumulate the computerized results automatically spat out by the web. Then they become architects and start wholly new calculations.

Now here at last CHAOS*LOUNGE has made its appearance.

It is neither “data” nor “thing”, but the art of the Internet age, that is to say, the art of the coming decade.

Yohei Kurose [Japan]

Born in 1983. He founded Review House in 2008 and started his career as a critic. He eleased the “CHAOS*LOUNGE Manifesto” in 2010 and collaborated with Uso Fujishiro for the projects “CHAOS*LOUNGE 2010: Takahashi Collection Hibiya” and “Destruction Lounge”. The author of numerous essays and works of criticism, he is not afraid of courting controversy or dividing audiences, and sets out to create the art that can represent the new decade.


『カオス*イグザイル』カオス*ラウンジ “CHAOS*EXILE” CHAOS*LOUNGE

10.22(Sat) - 11.6(Sun) Open: 15:00 - 22:00

会場 Venue

第1会場 アキバナビスペース 入場無料

Akiba navi space / Free entrance

3-1-8, Soto-kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Blowwind Akihabara Building 1F
5-minutes walk from Akihabara station