Can internet culture become modern art?

Internet Culture

Waiting for economic value in the market or prestigious value in academia is the same as losing influence with the masses. Is it possible to create contemporary art from the Internet culture that changes people’s behavior in society?

Yoji Sakuma, UNDER 30, which researches virtual beings, looks back on his attempts at a special exhibition.


A culture of art festivals and art fairs is beginning to take root in Japan, and opportunities for special exhibitions based on contemporary art are increasing. However, it cannot be denied that contemporary art is alien to most young people.

Can internet culture become modern art?

If we look deeper into how the value of contemporary art is determined in the first place, it seems that the value of its influence on society is being neglected. When it comes to the economic value of contemporary art, both the primary market and auction evaluations are separate from the public. Authoritative values ​​are also defined through academia and criticism, but they can only be connected to the public through museum collections and special exhibitions.

Philosopher Marcus Gabriel, best known for his book Why the World Doesn’t Exist, argues that we should never give up on the Enlightenment’s teaching that the function of art was to contribute to the moral progress of humanity. In order to make progress, the perspective of reaching out to many people is essential. I think we need to pursue the potential of art to exert influence on the public outside the art community, especially young people.

From internet culture to art

Can internet culture become modern art?

What I would like to focus on here is the existence of Internet culture, which is in contrast to contemporary art. Unlike contemporary art, whose value is determined by accumulating within the art community, a unique feature of art is that works created by a single creator reach directly to millions of viewers. Up until now, contemporary art has never incorporated them, such as “Ghost in the Cell: Ghost in the Cell” (BCL), which gives Hatsune Miku’s heart, and the vocaloid opera “THE END” (Keiichiro Shibuya, Hatsune Miku). Ta. On the other hand, there are no examples of creators who have achieved commercial success from the Internet culture creating contemporary art themselves.

At the end of 2023, a special exhibition called “Expanded Music” was held at “Study: Osaka Kansai International Art Festival vol.3” held in Osaka. We asked popular creators who capture the attention of young people with their advanced crafts to aim to present new values ​​in contemporary art.

By making recording and playback possible through media that are extensions of the body, music that originally existed only in that moment can now be enjoyed in the same way over and over again. The high degree of reproducibility on the Internet culture has accelerated this, and the miracle that dwells only in the moment has been lost. The concept of the exhibition is for creators who have taken full advantage of the strengths of media and the Internet to restore the “one-off” feeling in modern times in internet culture.

Turn internet culture into a work of art

Can internet culture become modern art?

It was a special exhibition in which four groups of six creators participated, and each work attempted to provide a bird’s-eye view of the experience of listening to music on the Internet culture. For example, in “Polyhedron, Mirror Surface” by Mirin Shiino and Tanaka, viewers input their impressions while listening to the music, and a music video is generated accordingly. The description on the package display for “Beyond,” a newly developed speech synthesis software for this occasion, changes as feedback accumulates. By recreating the evaluation surrounding music and voice synthesis software and the process of forming user-generated content, a one-time experience including the viewing environment is created.

“Boundary” by sekai and x0o0x_ presents a sound source for someone in front of them, and creates an experience of sharing it with the viewers. It is a system that allows each part to switch between multiple tracks such as piano or rock style, different lyrics, different singing expressions, and other variations to create a one-time singing voice. Recording and sharing on SNS is permitted, and it represents a new era of music appreciation experience where one-off music is filmed and shared over the Internet culture.

Also, advanced programming has a high affinity with Internet music. Not only the generation AI system for “polyhedrons and mirror surfaces” but also the “fluid corridor” created by Flocro are unique. The latter is a piece of work that shows the process of creation being a series of choices, by making a series of choices of sounds and words that “could have been”, from the main track and drums to the vocals. By calculating the network of possibilities of sounds and words typical of Flocro, you can watch infinite music being generated on the spot.

Examining influence and behavior change

Can internet culture become modern art?

Was the attempt to connect young people and contemporary art through internet culture a success? First of all, regarding the numbers, when a typical commercial gallery in Japan holds a solo exhibition for three weeks, the number of visitors is only a few hundred at most, so the fact that we attracted over 3,000 people in 11 days can be considered a certain achievement.

The number of visitors exceeds the number of visitors to the parent art festival and art fair as a whole, and there is no doubt about its influence, whether it is the number of visitors from the special exhibition to the main venue, or the tens of millions of impressions and numerous posts on social media. I don’t think so.

So, was it possible to bring about behavioral change based on the theme of one-time behavior? The most interactive work at the exhibition is “Listening” by Harumaki Gohan, in which eight tracks corresponding to a girl’s memories are mixed on the spot, allowing the user to experience the inner world of a girl’s heart. was. Judging from the many comments we received, such as, “By listening to the overlapping hearts of different sounds, I was able to think about the act of listening to someone’s heart,” we can expect the possibility of behavioral change through contemporary art. I guess you could say it’s a result.


Yoji Sakuma Engaged in research on virtual beings at Osaka University. At the 2025 Osaka/Kansai Expo, he will oversee virtual live performances and alternative reality games as the director of the Osaka Pavilion. Representative of the World Economic Forum’s Shape New World Initiative. Received the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Award at the Japan Open Innovation Awards.

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