Speaker Series: Anime Architecture Exhibition

2019-2020 Speaker Series

The Architecture of Ghost in the Shell

Talk and Q & A by Stefan Riekeles, curator of Anime Architecture

Concept design for Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence by Watabe Takashi ©2004 Shirow Masamune/KODANSHA – BANDAI VISUAL – MANGA ENTERTAINMENT, Ltd., AA079

The heroic action and visionary science-fiction of the feature film Ghost in the Shell (1995) takes place against the backdrop of a meticulously crafted world. In this presentation, Stefan Riekeles illuminates the artists behind this movie as architectural dreamers, operating virtually on the threshold of believability, fiction, and utopia.

In Ghost in the Shell, production design not only evokes a space in which the action and emotions are staged, but the buildings and streets become characters, equally integral to the story. In this feature and the precursors, Patlabor: The Movie and Patlabor 2, director Oshii Mamoru developed his technique of spatial narrative using background photographs. This approach to making an animated movie relies on realistic background art and brings it to the fore.

Layout for Ghost in the Shell, cut 334 by Takeuchi Atsushi (1995) Pencil on paper ©1995 Shirow Masamune/KODANSHA – BANDAI VISUAL – MANGA ENTERTAINMENT, Ltd., AA038

In collaboration with the artists who worked on Oshii’s films, Riekeles researched the studio environment and archives in Tokyo. With the help of photographs, first design sketches, layout drawings and other intermediary material, he retells the story of this classic work of anime from its inception to its influence on the 2017 live-action remake.



Stefan Riekeles is a curator based in Berlin. He holds an M.A. in Culture Studies and Audio Communication Science from the Humboldt University and the Technical University in Berlin. He curated the exhibition Anime Architecture which had its premiere in Berlin at the Tchoban Foundation – Museum for Architecture Drawing in 2016. Other projects in the realm of Japanese art include his work as the Artistic Director of the Japan Media Arts Festival Dortmund 2011 and as collaborator on the exhibition Proto Anime Cut (2011-2013) which traveled from Berlin to Dortmund, Barcelona, Madrid, Tallinn, and Basel. Previously, he served as the Programme Director of the International Symposium on Electronic Art 2010, in Ruhr, and has curated several exhibitions for the Transmediale Festival for art and digital culture in Berlin.

The Morikami is the only U.S. venue hosting this special exhibition. The exhibition traces the architectural world-building process of Japan’s most influential animated science fiction films.

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