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Ambient Media

Japanese Atmospheres of Self

Paul Roquet

Ambient Media examines music, video art, film, and literature as tools of atmospheric design in contemporary Japan, and what it means to use media as a resource for personal mood regulation. Paul Roquet traces the emergence of ambient styles from the environmental music and Erik Satie boom of the 1960s and 1970s to the more recent therapeutic emphasis on healing and relaxation.

Focusing on how an atmosphere works to reshape those dwelling within it, Roquet shows how ambient aesthetics can provide affordances for reflective drift, rhythmic attunement, embodied security, and urban coexistence. Musicians, video artists, filmmakers, and novelists in Japan have expanded on Brian Eno’s notion of the ambient as a style generating “calm, and a space to think,” exploring what it means to cultivate an ambivalent tranquility set against the uncertain horizons of an ever-shifting social landscape. Offering a new way of understanding the emphasis on “reading the air” in Japanese culture, Ambient Media documents both the adaptive and the alarming sides of the increasing deployment of mediated moods.

Arguing against critiques of mood regulation that see it primarily as a form of social pacification, Roquet makes a case for understanding ambient media as a neoliberal response to older modes of collective attunement—one that enables the indirect shaping of social behavior while also allowing individuals to feel like they are the ones ultimately in control.


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Anime’s Media Mix

Franchising Toys and Characters in Japan

Marc Steinberg

In Anime’s Media Mix, Marc Steinberg convincingly shows that anime is far more than a style of Japanese animation. Beyond its immediate form of cartooning, anime is also a unique mode of cultural production and consumption that led to the phenomenon that is today called “media mix” in Japan and “convergence” in the West.

According to Steinberg, both anime and the media mix were ignited on January 1, 1963, when Astro Boy hit Japanese TV screens for the first time. Sponsored by a chocolate manufacturer with savvy marketing skills, Astro Boy quickly became a cultural icon in Japan. He was the poster boy (or, in his case, “sticker boy”) both for Meiji Seika’s chocolates and for what could happen when a goggle-eyed cartoon child fell into the eager clutches of creative marketers. It was only a short step, Steinberg makes clear, from Astro Boy to Pokémon and beyond.

Steinberg traces the cultural genealogy that spawned Astro Boy to the transformations of Japanese media culture that followed—and forward to the even more profound developments in global capitalism supported by the circulation of characters like Doraemon, Hello Kitty, and Suzumiya Haruhi. He details how convergence was sparked by anime, with its astoundingly broad merchandising of images and its franchising across media and commodities. He also explains, for the first time, how the rise of anime cannot be understood properly—historically, economically, and culturally—without grasping the integral role that the media mix played from the start. Engaging with film, animation, and media studies, as well as analyses of consumer culture and theories of capitalism, Steinberg offers the first sustained study of the Japanese mode of convergence that informs global media practices to this day.

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Archives of Asian Art

Vol. 58 (2008) through current issue

Archives of Asian Art is an annual journal devoted to the arts of South, Southeast, Central, and East Asia. Each issue presents articles by leading scholars and a selection of outstanding works of Asian art acquired by North American museums during the previous year. The editors attempt to maintain a balanced representation of regions and types of art, as well as a variety of scholarly perspectives.

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Art and Devotion at a Buddhist Temple in the Indian Himalaya

Melissa R. Kerin

Sixteenth-century wall paintings in a Buddhist temple in the Tibetan cultural zone of northwest India are the focus of this innovative and richly illustrated study. Initially shaped by one set of religious beliefs, the paintings have since been reinterpreted and retraced by a later Buddhist community, subsumed within its religious framework and communal memory. Melissa Kerin traces the devotional, political, and artistic histories that have influenced the paintings' production and reception over the centuries of their use. Her interdisciplinary approach combines art historical methods with inscriptional translation, ethnographic documentation, and theoretical inquiry to understand religious images in context.

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The Art of Loving Krishna

Ornamentation and Devotion

Cynthia Packert

Since ancient times, Hindus have expressed their love and devotion to their deities through beautiful ornamentation -- dressing and decorating the deities with elaborate clothing, jewelry, and flowers. In this pioneering study of temples in Vrindaban and Jaipur, India, Cynthia Packert takes readers across temple thresholds and into the god Krishna's sacred domain. She describes what devotees see when they behold gorgeously attired representations of the god and why these images look the way they do. She discusses new media as well as global forms of devotion popular in India and abroad. The Art of Loving Krishna opens a universe of meaning in which art, religious action, and devotion are dynamically intertwined.

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Art Worlds

Artists, Images, and Audiences in Late Nineteenth-Century Shanghai

by Roberta Wue

The growth of Shanghai in the late nineteenth century gave rise to an exciting new art world in which a flourishing market in popular art became a highly visible part of the treaty port’s commercialized culture. Art Worlds examines the relationship between the city’s visual artists and their urban audiences. Through a discussion of images ranging from fashionable painted fans to lithograph-illustrated magazines, the book explores how popular art intersected with broader cultural trends. It also investigates the multiple roles played by the modern Chinese artist as image-maker, entrepreneur, celebrity, and urban sojourner. Focusing on industrially produced images, mass advertisements, and other hitherto neglected sources, the book offers a new interpretation of late Qing visual culture at a watershed moment in the history of modern Chinese art. Art Worlds will be of interest to scholars of art history and to anyone with an interest in the cultural history of modern China.

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Building a Sacred Mountain

The Buddhist Architecture of China's Mount Wutai

by Wei-Cheng Lin

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Children in Chinese Art

Ann Barrott Wicks

Depictions of children have had a prominent place in Chinese art since the Song period (960-1279). Yet one would be hard pressed to find any significant discussion of children in art in the historical documents of imperial China or contemporary scholarship on Chinese art. Children in Chinese Art brings to the forefront themes and motifs that have crossed social boundaries for centuries but have been overlooked in scholarly treatises. In this volume, experts in the fields of art, religion, literature, and history introduce and elucidate many of the issues surrounding child imagery in China, including its use for didactic reinforcement of social values as well as the amuletic function of these works.

The introduction provides a thought-provoking overview of the history of depictions of children, exploring both stylistic development and the emergence of specific themes. In an insightful essay, China specialists combine expertise in literature and painting to propose that the focus on children in both genres during the Song is an indication of a truly humane society. Skillful use of visual and textual sources from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) period explains children's games and the meaning of depictions of boys at play. Gender issues are examined in an intriguing look at mothers and children in woodblock illustrations to Ming versions of the classical text Lie ni juan. Depictions of the childhood of saints and sages from murals and commemorative tablets in ancient temples are considered. The volume concludes with two highly original essays on child protectors and destroyers in Chinese folk religion and family portraits and their scarcity in China before the nineteenth century.

Contributors: Ellen B. Avril, Catherine Barnhart, Richard Barnhart, Terese Tse Bartholomew, Julia K. Murray, Ann Waltner, Ann Barrott Wicks.

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Coproducing Asia

Locating Japanese–Chinese Regional Film and Media

Stephanie DeBoer

East Asia largely functions as a single film and media market, but behind it exists a multifaceted world of coproduction crossing linguistic and national borders. In Coproducing Asia, Stephanie DeBoer guides readers through a rich genealogy of regional film and media coproduction, all the while introducing innovative methods for their examination across decades, locations, and scales of production in East Asia and beyond.

Beginning with the present and moving back in time, Coproducing Asia paints a picture of the assemblages of coproduction in East Asia and their negotiation of Cold War geopolitics and imperial legacies along with the emergence of China as a global market. Addressing wide-screen international romances of the early 1960s, technology transfers of Cold War action cinema, Sino–Japanese “friendship” TV collaborations, Asian omnibus film and video, and more recent China-centered blockbusters, DeBoer deftly contextualizes each case study while accounting for the difficulties involved in the cultural, creative, and industry mediations associated with coproduction.

Based on rarely seen archival research as well as interviews with producers in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Taipei, and Shanghai, Coproducing Asia provides compelling frames for understanding the significance of film and media coproduction in East Asia, making clear that it is not only a site of technological transformation but also an arena for competing senses of regional location and place.

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Copying the Master and Stealing His Secrets

Brenda G. Jordan & Virginia Weston (eds.)

Copying the Master examines the transmission of painting traditions in Japan from one generation to the next. The contributors emphasize the relationship between inborn abilities and those skills taught in the course of learning how to paint. They focus their discussion on a group of painting masters loosely associated with the prestigious Kano painting atelier, Japan's de facto painting academy throughout the Tokugawa period (1615-1868) and into the early modern era. By delving into why, how, and what these painters transmitted to students through their teaching, readers gain insight into artistic and aesthetic sensibilities active in Japanese painting and a fuller appreciation of extant paintings within their cultural and historical contexts.

Contributors: Frank Chance, Karen M. Gerhart, Brenda G. Jordan, Martha J. McClintock, J. Thomas Rimer, Victoria Weston.

71 illus., 14 in color

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