Emi Kusano is a Tokyo-based multidisciplinary artist who explores retro-futurism, accelerationism, and nostalgia for Japanese youth culture and anime. Her current career began as a street photographer in Harajuku, Tokyo, and has expanded to encompass everything from installations to music.
Currently, Emi is pioneering in the field of post-photography, an art form that blends reality and fiction, combining old and new media to create a new visual language beyond the traditional boundaries of photography. Her groundbreaking work was selected as the first AI cover for WWD Japan, and she continues to shape the future as a member of the Japanese Government’s Cultural Council. In addition, the anime project “Shinsei Galverse”, which she co-founded, has achieved record-breaking success and is further accelerating anime creation within the community using AI.
Thoughts on the Collaboration
This marks my second exhibition in New York City. My first experience was in 2011 when I was a student and a photographer, participating in a group exhibit at the FIT Museum in New York. During that time, I was not an AI artist yet, but was working as a street photographer, capturing the unique fashion styles of the young people in Harajuku. I deeply felt then that their rich expressions of style were a culture that could be proudly shown to the world.
Harajuku culture, which has been ongoing since the 90s, was characterized by the people appearing in Fruits Magazine and the uniquely charming Gothic Lolita, among others. Their freedom in style is something I reflect in my artwork. Watching them on the streets, blending various items in a bricolage of self-expression, I see a resemblance to the process we follow in AI art. In my own work, I combine diverse elements and endlessly cite archives of past Japanese fashion, culminating in the look of my current exhibition.
I also found joy in exploring Gucci's aesthetics, drawing inspiration from numerous pieces of Gucci work. The process of discovering iconic looks, such as elements of bohemian fashion, flower crowns, and round glasses, was truly delightful.
Gucci's androgynous and studious aesthetics were a perfect fit, as I, myself, am fascinated by both the mechanical design of 80s-90s SF anime and feminine design reminiscent of Marie Antoinette. I feel that my childhood yearnings, which were a mix of admiration for Tokusatsu heroes and obsession with magical girls, are now reflected in my artistic expressions.