Nikheel Iyer

Artist Statement

I am from India and am also hard of hearing. Hence, I use English as my first language as it is my primary and only medium of communication. I am interested in Japanese comic subculture and American gaming culture. My research thesis is an exploration of how aesthetic values in pop culture are viewed internationally, especially in Japan and the United States. This is based on a cultural journalist, Nakamori Akio’s essay, “Otaku no kenkyu” (A Study of Otaku) translated into English by Matthew ALT. My medium is a mix of actual painting and digital pigments in pixel arts such as photography and collage.
According to ALT on Akio’s subcultural journal essay, “otaku” is defined as individuals who have developed their own hobbies with passion and obsession for pop media. Also, there is a small excerpt from an associate professor in the School of Global Japanese Studies at Meiji University, Morikawa Kaichiro’s essay of “Otaku or Geek” in Dennis Washburn’s written English translation that Otaku are very close in meaning to “nerd” and “geek” in English, but not precisely the same in Japanese. In 1980s, Otaku was coined as a stereotypical term by traditional norm, authoritative society and institutional education in Japan. Now, many people do not care if they are labeled as otaku; so, they simply enjoy walking around and having fun at the festival convention without labels.

With two research methods such as ethnography and visual analysis on otaku’s pop subculture, I wanted to explore and explain my experience of seeing how American and

Japanese fans have influence and aesthetic value at the convention. On November 16th-17th in this fall season, I went to the anime event called “Anime NYC” to observe the ethnography of various cosplayers’ action and fans’ movement. At the noisy and loud place, I was allowed to record them with my camera as long as they did not mind it. I carried on my visual analysis of American cosplay and Japanese subculture related to my experience in the event. For the sake of my perception, I needed to research on anime model kits, Japanese arcades that hooked gamers’ attention to play addictively and fans’ interest in buying pricey merchandise impulsively.

With my camera, I planned to capture the spectacle of avid pop fans or gamers at the event. I took several photos of people who customized themselves as cosplayers. Afterwards, I mixed my photos with anime posters, magazines, Japanese figures or video game screenshots to create virtual arts. Then, I printed them out as xerox or plotter papers with laser or inkjet medium from my laptop. Using Fluid Matte Medium as the Golden brand, I transmitted these printed images into the canvas paper. It was out of the blue that these colors turned different from what I expected. I painted over them with oil, acrylic, tempera mediums like disproportionate virtual art. I finalized the acetate sheet to put over them. Ultimately, I would be grateful if visitors to my studio took the time to look at and communicate with my works.