Takashi Murakami is Japan’s Andy Warhol. He conceptualizes popular Otaku themes as subjects for high art masterpieces, and then repurposes the motifs again for mass commercial consumption. Along with Yoshimoto Nara, Murakami helped rejuvenate contemporary Japanese art and make lonesome, anime-inspired, self-pleasuring cowboys with amazing control of their bodily fluids the Campbell’s soup cans of Japan.

He’s also one of 13 judges for YouTube Play: A Biennial of Creative Video.

youtube-playEarlier this summer, in collaboration with HP and Intel, YouTube and the Guggenheim Museum asked online video auteurs to submit works of “animation, motion graphics, narrative, non-narrative, or documentary work, music videos and entirely new art forms – creations that really challenge the world’s perceptions of what’s possible with video,” in hopes of showcasing digital media as a respectable medium for high art.

YouTube announced today that YouTube Play received over 23,000 submissions from over 91 countries. The Guggenheim curatorial team narrowed those submissions down to a shortlist 125 videos long. YouTube Play‘s esteemed jury will now make up to 20 selections to showcase online and at a special Guggenheim exhibit in late October.

Murakami’s excited to watch the submissions, exclaiming how YouTube incites artists with a revolutionary spirit and also terrifies them with a Katana. I’m not quite sure what that means, but I know you should be excited, too. If you head over to the YouTube Play channel, a click on any of the shortlisted videos is worth your while. Submissions range from “students, video artists, photographers, filmmakers, composers, video game programmers, an American Women’s Chess Champion, a comedy improv group, a Swedish rock band, a South African hip-hop group, an Australian electronic music producer – and a lot more.”

It’ll be interesting to see which videos make it into the museum and if YouTube Play can help shift cultural conceptions of YouTube and digital media at large. If the site and medium can be as well known for art as it is for music videos and laughing baby brothers with cannibalistic tendencies, maybe Murakami and future artists will compete digital for shows in cyber space instead of real estate in a museum.

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