Interrogating Ecology: 1970s Media and Art in Japan

“National Border Tokara Archipelago: Deserting Islands” by Takuma Nakahira from the March 1977 issue of Asahi Camera © Gen Nakahira

May 14, 2021; 8–10pm
Webinar

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Discussant: Dr. Michio Hayashi, Sophia University

Panelists: Dr. Haeyun Park, Seoul National University; Dr. Tomotaro Kaneko, Aichi University of the Arts; Nina Horisaki-Christens, Columbia University; Dr. Franz Prichard, Princeton University

1970 in Japan marked a shift from rapid economic growth, industrialization, and urbanization to a reckoning with the new order of the information economy, the managed society, and environmental pollution. If 1970 opened to cheerful preparations for Osaka’s Expo ‘70—indicating Japan’s emergence as an economically, technologically, and culturally advanced world power—by December, a series of high profile environmental pollution incidents necessitated a special Diet session to enact fourteen major anti-pollution bills. Within Japan’s art scene, the artist-designed pavilions of Expo ‘70 represented the culmination of artistic experimentation in technology, projection, and eizō (the mechanically-produced image), yet social conditioning and the commodifying logic of capitalist accumulation also subverted the critical aims of participating artists. In the fair’s aftermath, artists employed reproductive media through a more ecological lens to interrogate their place within media systems, capitalist consumption, and managed social reproduction. This panel presents investigations of 1970s works by four Japanese artists—Hori Kosai, Nakahira Takuma, Nakaya Fujiko, and Yamanaka Nobuo—that use photography, film, video, and sound recording media to investigate the conditions of 1970s Japan through this new ecological lens.

This program is co-sponsored by Collaborative Cataloging Japan and is made possible in part with a grant from the Asian Cultural Council to advance international understanding through cultural exchanges in the arts.