Papercraft culture consists of a collaboration between international artists: who often work on the same series and share their designs between countries; and participants: I am a participant who can find, on large cataloging sites, a design of my liking and choose to construct it, or remix it by sticking a cat’s head on the final product and call it mine. Now I’m the artist. But this makes it difficult to credit ownership, if you find a design with a cat’s head already on it, who made the design without the cat’s head? This blurring between artists and participants, and digital repossession across the globe, makes it hard to identify where a Papercraft design was originally designed. Which has made it really difficult to distinguish between Asian and non-Asian designs.
When I discover a design that I believe to be Asian, like the Gears Heart by Kamikara, the first response I have is: did Kamikara really create this? This makes it difficult to distinguish between designs that originate in Asia and ones from the rest of the world. I understand I need to be specific with my research and develop a digital artefact but I have identified that this association of artist and location to the product is hard to find. My ideas have revolved around the construction of papercraft, documenting its process, and highlighting the artist behind the design. This for me was emulating the respect for the creator the community provides, and an opportunity for viewers to participate and learn. But constructing a papercraft isn’t identifying whether it is “Asian” or not, it’s the entire process, from searching through designs, finding an artist, finding the links to his work, and defining the print parameters for a perfect piece of paper with a freshly printed design on it. Our choice of what we chose to construct and print is made due to our connection to the design and what it represents for us. There are videos of people proudly displaying there work, like Jonocade who’s constructed almost every video game console in a tiny intricate paper construction – I’m not that obsessed nor do I feel the need to display such a collection. But the idea that there are people who are collecting and displaying a particular set of pieces because it means something to them, it represents their interests in certain cultures, is what intrigues me. I’m curious to know what my choices in designs would reveal about me.
I construct Papercraft models of things I love about Japanese anime, and my personal connection and love for that show is represented in the construction and display of my Papercraft model. And even if I haven’t constructed the model yet, I have a folder on my hard drive titled ‘Papercraft’, and it too contains designs of media that I love. One such model is a Gundam custom-made model for papercraft makers. Gundam is a popular toy robot that you can make out of plastic by purchasing it from a toy shop. A papercraft model of a Gundam circumvents the official distribution and design of the models. However it is providing international fans of the TV show it is based off access to a model that can be hard to obtain outside of Japan. When I find designs unique like this I feel like I have found something I didn’t know existed. Perhaps my role in this process is facilitating a digital product for international audiences outside of Asia to obtain and create their own models.