- KRAZY! The Delirious World of Anime + Comics + Video Games + Art
Delirious can mean any and all of 'fevered' and 'ecstatic' and 'disordered,' and herein lies the success (and aim) of Grenville's superb complement to the Vancouver Art Gallery's 2008 exhibit. The showcasing of the interdisciplinary nature of various media - that is, the ostensibly distinct fields of manga, anime, comics, graphic novels, cartoons, video games, and art - is meant, Grenville argues, 'to provide an insight into the shared purpose and interdependence of these diverse forms of visual culture.' It is that, and more.
Grenville draws upon French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy's 'inoperative community' to assert that the unstable and contested parameters of these seven interrelated fields achieve 'affinity of purpose,' both signalling and embracing new models of cultural production. The co-curators of the discrete (though coinciding) categories were constrained only by the number of international artists to be chosen: two or three precursors, three or more established artists, and a couple of visionaries. These co-curators - among them such luminaries as Seth, Art Spiegelman, Will Wright, and Kiyoshi Kusumi - were directed to include their own work, thereby heightening the inevitably subjective nature of their task.
The particular significance of the exhibition and book is the inherent insistence on history and the highlighting of cross-category shifts that suggests not a singular, new aesthetic but a constant redefinition that engages all the meanings of delirious. Grenville is perceptive in suggesting that the fields of visual culture and their subsets cannot but form the major modes of artistic expression in this new century, yet he is careful not to position new media as either saviour or free-for-all. It is clear that he is interested in work that provokes in its attention to historical [End Page 450] precedent and recombination of methodology, resulting not in one definite aim but in a continuing mixture of media: '[I]t is a call to resist convergence, to instead form a community in which we can recognize value and necessity of being-with [another Nancy term] those whose presence and practice forces us to consider the ethics of our actions.'
It is this demanding task that Grenville presents those of us who are unfamiliar with a call to media ethics, let alone the challenges of understanding new media in the first place. KRAZY is by no means definitive, but it is a sharp and accessible study meant for both the practitioner and newcomer to the fields. Literacy in new media is fast becoming an essential part of the humanities, and Grenville's culturally academic take on where-we-are is an excellent introduction to it.
Andrew Lesk, Department of English, University of Toronto