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Ten years ago, when a new cultural facility opened in the western Japan city of Yamaguchi, its founders sought to fulfill a role quite different from those museums in the countryside.

Unlike many public museums in rural Japan that function as touring venues for exhibitions that have already shown in the major cities, or which feature long-established artists familiar to a local audience, the city-funded Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media (YCAM) was designed to be a place where artists from various genres could be invited to create and showcase new and original artwork. And not just any artwork, but pieces that are loosely associated with a fast-changing, definition-defying form of creativity that often utilizes media technologies such as computer graphics, animation and the Internet, and is known as “media art.”

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