For Japan the existence of the 20th century was announced apocalyptically by the atomic bomb at Hiroshima. Whatever clothes the Emperor wore that day, they were useless too him now. And, no sooner had the revelation of Western civilization been so awesomely visited upon the Rising sun than came the 21st century, gizmoid and insensible, surreal and plastic. In "Reflex", 40 urban young artists and performers realize the manifestations of modern Japan through their own unique brand of self-portraiture. Superficially, many of them seem simply weird - two gay Sumo wrestlers fighting in a bathhouse, for instance, thereby subverting the parameters of the traditional, male-orientated Manga culture, or amateur photography of Geishas and phallic steam trains. But they are more than that. By identifying six distinct Japanese reflexes to the 21st century, namely the "Kid Reflex", "Naked Reflex", "Manga Reflex", "Group Reflex", "Amateur Reflex", and the "Imaged Reflex", these artists have provided a myriad of self-representations, the concerns of young Japan, shocking to anyone ignorant of the pressures at work in their society.
The amateur auteur seeking to explain; the group methodology seeking to conform; the liberated innocence of nakedness at odds with nudity; the mass-market phenomenon of a strictured teenage audience; the professional artist and above all, the powerful Manga culture - these are bewildering and fantastic concepts, illustrated by images both sublime and confusing.
Reflex is a compilation by 40 contemporary Japanese artists, professional and amateur photographers, Manga illustrators and renegade artists in Japan. It is co-edited by Mark Sanders (Senior Editor for Another Magazine), Kyoichi Tsuzuki (artist and editor of the award-winning Roadside Japan), and Fumiya Sawa (consultant and co-curator on the Barbican Gallery's exhibition JAM: Tokyo - London).