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Art Works
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Art Works

No Ghost Just a Shell

In 1999 French artists Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno purchased the rights to a manga figure developed by the Japanese anime company Kworks, whom they named ‘Annlee’. This anime character was considered nondescript, with little potential performance in typical manga narratives, and as such, was given little commercial value. The two artists bought this image, established a temporary animation studio, and invited 18 artists to re-imagine Annlee’s life story, which they presented through a variety of medium including postcards, books, animations and installations.

By taking an image deemed valueless by industry as a starting point for creative endeavor, the artists make an intentionally critical comment on the worn-out production and value system of commercialization. The animation industry is a part of the cultural creative industry. Its Fordian production methods (with a strict division of labor in production line) prohibit the diversification of creativity, and its valuation is solely profit driven. This digital image that can be reproduced, shared and circulated freely was “liberated” from this commercial system by a group of artists, and emancipated from the process of anime production that seeks to increase the value of a digital symbol in endless developed plotline; the same way businesses continuously invest on marketing their logos in order to raise more capital. Annlee, a symbol meant for commercial exploitation, was reborn as a source of creativity in the hands of artists.

In this project, the artists attempt to establish a completely different production mode by independently working within a collective. They recreated multiple meanings for this symbol, but the artists were not ultimately concerned with the end products. An art project created by different artists using a variety of media means that the authorship of this work became undeterminable. Annlee as a concept that can be collectively shared, and the generation of creativity extends indefinitely, continuously producing new concepts and interpretations. The process of creativity and alternative production model is more important than the final work of art produced. The rules of this game are that these concepts become shared public property.

This series of work touches on a few issues of digital art production, including the relaying/collaborative interpretations and creations on Internet, the reproduction and free circulation of digital symbols and related intellectual property issues (copy left), as well as the business trajectory of the creative cultural industry.