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MANGA in New York presented by Ginza Sony Park Project

By Kyoko Sato, November 7, 2023

Sony, based in Tokyo, has acquired a park in the heart of the global art scene in Chelsea, New York. The event "MANGA in New York" took place at Studio 525, 515 W 24th St, NYC, from October 27 to November 5, 2023. Sony curated a collection of manga for the park, featuring works by six talented Japanese artists: Hikaru Ichijo (Illustrator), Katsuya Terada (Illustrator and manga artist), Takakurakazuki (Artist), Masanobu Hiraoka (Director and animator), Miku Masuda (Illustrator and manga artist), and millennium parade (Artist). These pieces were collaborative works with Sony.

Sony turned its significant Sony Building in Ginza, Tokyo, into a park from 2018 to 2021 while constructing the new Ginza Sony Park Building, set to finish in 2024. Built in 1966 by founder Akio Morita, the Sony Building, specifically Sony Square, was envisioned as a "garden of Ginza." This concept aimed to create a natural space in the midst of the urban and expensive environment of Ginza. The goal was to bring a positive and relaxed energy to both the company and the city, regardless of the actual presence of greenery.

Sony has maintained its uniqueness, staying true to the founder's vision despite facing various challenges. The acquisition of the largest US anime distribution further underscores Sony's commitment to an idealistic future, prioritizing the original vision over mere profits. It's a testament to their dedication to a broader and more meaningful impact beyond financial success.

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Installation view.

Daisuke Nagano, President and Chief Branding Officer at Sony Enterprise Co., Ltd., explained the choice of manga as the theme for the exhibition platform, stating that manga is entertaining, has a laid-back vibe, allowing people to relax in the otherwise serious world of art. Drawing a parallel to Ginza, Tokyo, where there's a lack of resting spaces, the aim is to create a relaxed and enjoyable park in the equally serious Chelsea in New York. Nagano credited CEO Kaz Hirai for not giving up on the company's ideals and pushing forward with the park project despite economic pressures.

Sony has deep ties with New York City, as founder Mr. Morita once lived and operated a showroom on Fifth Avenue. The Sony Building itself holds an intriguing connection, with its 'Petal Structure' inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's design for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue and 88-89th Street, NYC. A beautiful continuation of this story unfolds in the new Ginza Sony Park building, where the structure pays homage to this legendary inspiration.

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Miku Masuda, interlude, 2023

In this exhibition in Chelsea, New York, Sony commissioned 6 outstanding Japanese artists to produce collaborative original works with Sony.

Upon entering the exhibition, visitors will encounter a screen installation titled "Interlude" by Miku Masuda. The artist portrays the ordinary life of a man named Makoto, who surrenders his dreams but continues to navigate through the routine of breathing and working for a company. The installation dynamically presents cartoon lines, progressively popping up one by one on the screens.

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Katsuya Terada, drawing live in the exhibition.

When I visited the exhibition on November 4th, I found a crowd watching something eagerly and holding up their phones. Once I managed to look inside, Katsuya Terada was drawing live. The drawing was beautiful and attractive, confirming how manga drawings are capturing people’s hearts.

millemium parade, DREAM PILL, 2023

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Venturing further into the exhibition, visitors can engage with an interactive installation featuring water, aptly titled "Dream Pill" by Millennium parade. The installation takes us into the narrative of a boy in chaotic Tokyo in 2045, who takes a dream pill and enters a dream world. As we peruse the artist's comic works adorned with black characters on the wall, the experience is enhanced by the visual, sensual, and physical vibrations of water on the floor.

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Masanobu Hiraoka, A Guide, 2023

Ascending the steps, visitors encounter "A Guide" by Masanobu Hiraoka. This exhibit showcases comic works depicting the communication between young adventurers and old boatmen. Notably, some sections of the manga come to life through moving images crafted with Sony technology.

Sony has been at the forefront of building technology, and the artists in the exhibition were supported by Sony's tech to bring their artworks to fruition. Mr. Nagano's team conducted extensive research on music and culture in New York, delving into aspects such as gender and generation. This thorough exploration led to the strategic selection of these 6 artists for the exhibition.

Sony stands as an established brand today, and we can rely on their principles, which were laid down by Mr. Morita. His foresight, care, and belief in future generations form the foundation of Sony's values. Creating a park in the midst of a concrete city or amidst commercial contexts can be challenging, yet Mr. Morita sought to establish relaxed human oases in places like Ginza and New York. Observing the overwhelming number of people attending the exhibition in Chelsea, New York, it becomes evident that Sony's spirit is not only alive but also continues to inspire hope for the generations to come.

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