Session Abstract: In Cinema of Actuality, media scholar Yuriko Furuhata identifies an abiding preoccupation among Japanese postwar avant-garde filmmakers with the notion of “actuality” – that is, cinema’s ability to both convey actual conditions, and effect actual change. While Furuhata locates this preoccupation exclusively within the “image politics” of postwar Japanese cinema, our panel seeks to extend the historical and theoretical purview of its discourse by exploring a more expansive field of media and performance that crucially, both predates and persists beyond this filmic paradigm.
Focusing on Japan’s interwar period, panelists investigate a range of media in moments of emergent possibility. In so doing, we argue for a more nuanced perspective on the tensions and cross-pollinations between different media and media practices, specifically those that have thus far been overlooked under cinema’s advent as the dominant mass medium. By approaching media thus, we detail how each medium’s material affordances transformed notions of style and genre across different artistic communities. At the same time, through close analyses of the future hopes and teleologies ascribed to these same media, we underscore the human element and socio-political embeddedness of media practice, particularly within the upheavals of Japan’s interwar period. Accordingly, our panelists address shared questions such as: what role did commerce and policy play in re-shaping artistic conventions? How did these new media practices re-draw the boundaries of society and the individual? And how might these histories' persistent reverberations be felt, even at a subsonic level, in the postwar milieu of Furuhata's study and thereafter?
Paper Presenter: Noriko Morisue – Yale University
Paper Presenter: Alexander Murphy – University of Chicago
Paper Presenter: Joelle Nazzicone – Harvard University
Paper Presenter: Chikara Uchida – University of Tokyo