Apparently there is an uncanny valley in Japan, too.
March 24, 2006 10:55 AM   Subscribe

The tradition of making Japanese dolls, called ningyo—meaning human figure—goes back as far as 10,000 years to clay figures made during the Jomon period. The more recent rise in popularity, though, is most often traced to Hina Matsuri--Girls' Day, or the Doll Festival, celebrated on March 3--originating during the Edo period. These antique ningyo are highly sought after by collectors, such as the American expert Alan Pate, who has written a number of articles on the subject. The modern Japanese doll culture, however, is anything but traditional. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the ningyo tradition was exported to make toys for the West (previously featured on MeFi), and has culminated in popular Barbie-type dolls such as Superdollfie and others. Contemporary artists have transformed the Japanese doll tradition into something else entirely: Simon Yotsuya, Ryo Yoshida, Koitsukihime, Yoko Ueno, Mario A., Etsuko Miura, and Kai Akemi. A number of these artists were featured in the Dolls of Innocence exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. Of course, notable artists outside Japan have worked with dolls before, including Hans Bellmer, who inspired much of the artwork in Innocence, the follow-up to Ghost in the Shell. Explore more: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]. [Several links are nsfw.]
posted by monju_bosatsu (11 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Check out Kai Akemi's profile, in particular, for a several galleries of her surrealist doll exhibits.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:56 AM on March 24, 2006

monju, I almost posted about Hina Matsuri on March 3rd, but got distracted. Nice post!
posted by shoepal at 11:04 AM on March 24, 2006

This is neat. I especially like the Janis Joplin dolls at the bottom left of [1]. Also reminds me of the multiple times I freaked out playing Fatal Frame II.
posted by bardic at 11:08 AM on March 24, 2006

posted by matteo at 11:19 AM on March 24, 2006

dai suki dayo!
posted by Gamblor at 11:26 AM on March 24, 2006

Just to nitpick, the Uncanny Valley theory was originally proposed by a Japanese scientist.
posted by designbot at 12:28 PM on March 24, 2006

...oh, they’re not sex dolls.

/joking. Nifty. The semi skeleton with the fleshed out human head from the Yotsuya link creeps me out tho man. Gah!
posted by Smedleyman at 1:15 PM on March 24, 2006

Careful, smedleyman. Dig too deep into some of those links and you find something very close, and very, very not-suitable-for-work.

but very suitable for my secret naked doll collection.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:27 PM on March 24, 2006

Oh, yay! I love ball joint dolls!

Den of Angels is the big dollfie forum.

There are also Blythe and Pullip dolls. Both of which have their own lj communities, of course. There's also an lj community for sexy bjd.

More doll art: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Flickr photos tagged with 'dollfie', 'volks', and 'bjd'.

Mostly all NSFW.
posted by birdie birdington at 3:10 PM on March 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

Wow! Those are terrific links and very useful to my Master's Thesis to boot (I am writing about altered anatomies and also strange bodies in toys). I am really thinking quite a bit about something I've read and observed which is that broadly speaking, Japanese culture and art seems to favor abstraction and stylization much more than other cultures. Perhaps the most basic way to consider this is the effect the kimono has on reshaping the form of the body and also presenting it as a two-dimensional designed plane. Having been born in 1975, I am most familiar with robot culture (Mazinger/Tranzor Z, Transformers, Gatchaman), so these links are all new and exciting to me.
posted by Slothrop at 6:31 AM on March 25, 2006

This is a most excellent post, thank you so much, monju_bosatsu. I am glad I didn't miss this one!
posted by madamjujujive at 11:54 PM on March 28, 2006

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