“Virtual Currency Offering Festival” is a project attempting to “update the Shinto rituals”. It is a new form of celebratory festival in which virtual currencies are collected from across the world for later redistribution, bringing “a good harvest” to the community. It is intended to expand, by way of technology, the sense of citizen participation, the essence of festive rituals, using virtual currency characterized by ability to transfer money across space instantaneously.
“Virtual Currency Offering Festival” was held in an actual living setting of a traditional shopping street in Tokyo supported by citizens. Residents in and around the area, corporations, local government as well as renowned experts, entrepreneurs and researchers made “offering” of various resources and technologies of their fields. The project created a large number of collaboration work which encompassed the following, among many others; “Yokai-monster-robot based on animatronics technology, “Kishu (peculiar sake), a liquor with extraordinary fermentation process by a fermentation professional”, and an “AI voice synthesys of Heart Sutra”. The citizens brought their own projects, musical instruments and fancy-dress costumes of their choice and enjoyed themselves. In the festival, approximately 16,000 people in total gathered at the shopping street over the course of two days. Men, women, young and old including the local residents took part in the “Virtual Currency Offering Festival Parade”.
【Etsuko Ichihara / Media Artist, Fantasy Inventor】
Etsuko Ichihara is Japanese award-winning new media artist. Born 1988 in Aichi. Graduated in Studies of Media, Body and Image from the School of Culture, Media and Society, Waseda University. She has been creating artworks that interpret Japanese culture, customs and beliefs from a unique point of view, and present new, technology-based approaches. Thanks to their strong impact, these works have been introduced across a wide range of media all over the world, such as newspapers and TV programs, radio programs, and magazines. Ichihara’s works were included in the Excellence Award at the 20th Japan Media Arts Festival, Entertainment Division in 2017, and in 2016, chosen for the INNOvation program from The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. She won Honorary Mention (Interactive Art＋) in PRIX Ars Electronica 2018 and received a STARTS Prize Nomination in the same year recently. She has recently presented her works in exhibitions such as ‘Digital Shamanism: Japanese Funeral and Festivity’ at NTT InterCommunication Center [ICC], ‘Cyber Arts Exhibition 2018’ at Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Japan Media Arts Festival.
Kawashima Shopping Street, Nakano City, Tokyo