This Pentagram-designed Manga exhibition feels like walking through a comic book


Digital Arts

Not only is Mangasia: Wonderlands of Asian Comics the largest exhibition to present an overview of Asian comics to date, but it also is the first ever exhibition to honour the history of Asian comics.

The exhibition was created by London’s Barbican Centre, and features branding and graphics by design firm Pentagram - plus an interactive 'game' where you get to control your own mech (a humanoid robot that's a staple of sci-fi manga). It's currently on display in Rome until January 2018.

Curated by Paul Gravett and his team of over twenty advisors, Magnasia explores new and old Asian comics. The exhibit traces the impact of printed comic on live-action and animated film, television, music, games, fashion and contemporary art.

The graphic system of the exhibit was designed by Pentagram's Marina Willer as storyboards, composed of panels varying in size, shape and form combined with specialised cinematic framing tell the dynamic story Asian comics.

The design not only visually guides its visitors throughout exhibition’s different sections of comic identities, but it also heightens the illusion of moving visuals and texts that brings the theme to life.

Former Pentagram studio designer and architect William Russell constructed the traveling exhibition using a durable paper material that, in addition to Marina Willer’s graphics, gives its visitors the experience of walking through a real-life comic book.

 In addition to outlining the rich history of Asian comics, Magnasia also emphasises the expanding opportunities created by rapid technological innovations.

A growing number of 21st-century artists are utilising digital tools and online delivery to transform the creative processing and execution of modern comics, such as the a special motion-controlled digital installment Mechasobi.

Joy Hudson-Powell and Luke Powell collaborated with Mecha designer Kawamori Shoji to create a building-sized robot that switches between a friendly demeanour to chaotic and lethal. The interactive installment, which visitors can partake in controlling, signifies a not-so-distant future in which robots are used for the construction of modern cities.

Mangasia highlights key artists, characters, magazines, graphic novels and multimedia from a wealth of Asian cultures, featuring artwork from Japan, North and South Korea, India, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines and Singapore - as well as from emerging comic cultures in Bhutan, Cambodia, East Timor, Mongolia and Vietnam.

Barbican's Mangasia: Wonderlands of Asian Comics is now on display in Rome, Italy until January 2018 it moves to Nantes, France from June to September 2018.

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