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In Session: Re-Capturing Gestures from the Debris of the Past: De-Cold Warring Tactics in Visual Archives and Documentaries
3: Minoritarian Becomings through the Nonlinguistic Representation of the Minamata Documentaries
Thursday, March 25, 2021
12:00pm – 1:30pm EDT
Nagoya University, Japan
This paper highlights a shared representation among the documentaries on the Minamata disease, which overwhelms the outright linguistic accusation. In this mercury poisoning pollution, complicated politics arose involving the majority of citizens working for the economy but sacrificing the environmental resources. The Minamata documentaries were confronted not merely with the polluter company's accusation, but these citizens' responsibility through cinematic representation distinguished from the journalism's language. When the Minamata disease became a national matter in the last half of the 60s, the other pollution diseases simultaneously arising over the Japanese state visualized the contradiction between lavish human living and nature. The active victims, underpinned by this situation, started demanding compensation for their suffering and living sea deprived by the mercury poisoning. However, their demand went against the ordinary citizens in Minamata city working for the company and the public sentiments nationwide enjoying high economic growth (Takamine 2017). Chisso was a giant company sustaining the national economy and the majoritys' hope for the modern wealthy living free from past poverty (Kobayashi 2015). As if responding to this bio-political conflict between the majority's livings and the minority and nature's suffering like Ishimure Michiko's "Obligate Storytelling" (Marran 2017), the Minamata documentaries addressed to the viewer through the nonlinguistic ambiance of audio-visual representation. Notably, their way of displaying the patients' suffering anticipated Guattarian "Minor Cinema," which generates a psychopathic minority's sensitivity in the majority's subjectivity through a-signifying semiotics effects of the film like Agamben's "gesture" (Genosko 2009). Demonstrating how the documentaries' way overlaps the minor cinema, this paper argues these representations' potential to work as a stoppage toward the flow of the people's capitalistic desire.