Sunday, February 18, 2007

Visual Anthro Links...

Here are some links related to visual anthro, some of which will be discussed in class.

Beautiful Japan related article with suggestions by Wm. Penn on how to make Japanese TV more beautiful...

  • Link to Beautiful TV for beautiful country

  • "Tokyo Love Hello" by Chris Steel-Perkins. A multimedia photo exhibition on the photographer's impressions of Tokyo. A little reminiscent of the February 13, 2006 Newsweek article "Where's the Real Japan?" (p. 32-35) that claims "To someone who has lived for long periods of time in the West, there is nothing particularly challenging about Japan, not anymore" (p. 33). Steel-Perkins admits there is more going on under the surface of his photos, but still his exhibition also reminds me of some of the "crazy Japan" scenes in "Lost in Translation." What do you think?

    Link to Tokyo Love Hello

    Another interactive essay on the Slate webpage: "World of Changes" by photographer Thomas Hoepker. Click on the photo of the "Japan head" (under the photo of London youths smoking pot). Not Japan specific, but some interesting commentary by a well travelled and experienced photographer.

  • Link to World of Changes

  • Do Steel-Perkins and Hoepker have ethnographic authority? What do you think of their representations of Japan?

    Asagao-no-kai (a supporting group for Megumi Yokata's family). I don't want to get into the politics of the issue here (unless someone insists...); this link is included for its interesting presentation style. It is an exhibition of photos and information about one of the Japanese abducted by North Korea.

  • Link to Asagao-no-kai

  • Two Deaf friends of mine recently went on a trip to Cambodia to perform pantomime for Cambodian Deaf people. This link is from the Deaf Development Programme (Cambodia) homepage. See photos of their arrival, perfomance at the Deaf Community Center and a Deaf school in Phnom Penh.

  • Link to Deaf Pantomimes in Cambodia
  • Tuesday, February 6, 2007

    Spring 2007 Theme: "Beautiful Japan"

    Spring semester has begun and I am looking forward to new visual projects from my new students.

    This semester we have a theme for our visual projects: "Beautiful Japan." The idea for this theme comes from a recent article in the Daily Yomiuri entitled "Govt to seek public idea on 'beautiful country'" (January 1, 2007, p. 4).

    The article begins: "As part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's bid to achieve his policy vision of 'a beautiful country,' the government will launch projects to solicit public opinions on the concept..."

    "Some observers suggest that the concept... has not evoked concrete images even though three months have passed since Abe took office."

    A public poll will decide "100 quintessential elements of Japan" with hopes of such tradtional things like kimono, geta, hatsumode, osechi, Hina Matsuri and shichigosan being included along with more recent high technology items. Examples of Japanese virtue and modesty are also hoped to be solicited.

    "Meetings on 'a beautiful country' are planned to be held across the nation. The government is also considering a plan to publicly seek young people, housewives and foreign residents as 'supporters' for these activities."

    So this semester the Visual Anthropology of Japan class will offer our support and assistiance to Prime Minister Abe and his plan to evoke concrete images of the beauty of Japanese culture and the Japanese nation.

    Some students have already expressed concern that their particular ideas for project topics might not fit into such a framework.

    "Beauty" is, of course, a relative term. And so is "reality." Adopting Prime Minister Abe's theme for this semester's project in no way endorses his or any national political ideology or agenda.

    However, representation can be viewed as a control mechanism inherently fraught with politics. Who has the authority to translate and/or dictate the reality of others?

    Visual methods add to the complexity of such ethical concerns within ethnographic research. How do visual representations translate and/or dictate the reality of others?

    Stay tuned as we continue to grapple with these issues this spring semester. Links to new projects will be added shortly. As always, feedback is encouraged and appreciated.

    Notes on methods for this posting: All photos were taken with my mobile phone, mostly on a recent walk in and around Moriguchi-shi. My new keitai has a much higher quality camera (3.2 mega pixels) than my previous one.