Listening to Arthur Hnatek’s album ‘Melismetiq’ drove me to sleep one afternoon. The pianist’s fingers tenderly brushing the ivory keys. The trumpet beaming a yawning melody, gliding weightlessly above the warm pop and crackle of bass, drums and sprinkled electronics.
I didn’t fall asleep because I was bored to tears. The album silenced the haphazard noise in my brain. It calmed every fibre of my body. It was perhaps the first hour I spent doing nothing in months. It was perhaps the best nap I had in years.
I’d imagine that the first paragraph might’ve provoked you to let escape a yawn as well.
Before Cinerama and CinemaScope, the movies contented audiences with screens whose dimensions averaged 20 feet by 16 feet. With the wide-screen technologies and formats of the 1950s, the movies engulfed their audiences, wrapping images as great as 64 by 24 feet around them (Belton, 2013, pg. 185). Belton went on to observe, that ‘The wide-screen revolution represented a dramatic shift in the film industry’s notion of the product that it was supplying to the public…shifting its primary function of providing entertainment to the public to include another function as well – that of recreation’ (pg. 186). The movie experience as mandated by the studios’ attempt to reverse the dropping audience attendance rate with spectacles of epic proportion, engaged their audiences through sheer illusory immersion, not only through giant images, but revolutionary multi-track stereo sound as well. Such an audio-visual effect was utilised to its zenith by a subset of gigantic productions during this period: historical epics.
Philosopher Alain de Botton stated at the 2013 CDI (or the City of Ideas International Festival), that “the media is the teacher…once you’ve left school and university, or in other words for most of your life, you will not be educated in a classroom, but by the media.” The accompanying and profound implications of citing media as the ultimate signifier and shaper of society and identity has led me to diagnose the contemporary main driving model of media consumption – namely the on-demand binge culture subtitled the ‘Netflix Effect’ – and how this…new experiential frame of consumption in turn re-frames urban culture. The methodological significance of studying the currently dominant formats of mass consumption and popular media, in conjunction with its influence on cultural identity, is what I would argue a post-human integration of technically separate but intrinsically co-existing schools of cinema studies and cultural sociology: namely the cinematic city’s integration with the urban experience and Charles Taylor’s concept of the ‘social imaginary’.
The slogan ‘Cool Japan’ was first used by the Japanese government in reference to its nation-branding projects back in 2005. Since then, the Cool Japan phenomenon has become a site of intensive focus for scholars in Japanese studies, particularly from the points of view of popular culture and creative industries (e.g. Sugiyama 2006, Dinnie 2009, Fujita 2011) and nationalism and nation-building (e.g. Iwabuchi 2007, 2008) (Valaskivi, 2013). Indeed, such saturated focus on this phenomenon has covered extensive and ripe ground from relatively regional frameworks, which examined its impact within Japan, as well as Japan’s influence within the East Asia sphere. In turn, Katja Valaskivi proposed to extend its study paradigms by contextualising Cool Japan through the transnationally circulating practice of nation branding. And thus with this essay, I will approach the study of the Cool Japan branding project by extending upon Valaskivi’s frameworks in her paper ‘Cool Japan and the social imaginary of the branded nation’; and by extension Taylor’s concept of the social imaginary (Taylor, 2002), through their integration into a semiotic and cinematic analysis of director Makoto Shinkai’s 2016 anime film ‘Kimi no Na wa’ (will be referred to as ‘Your Name’ from now on), which I argue will introduce unique observations that may ground Cool Japan’s main circulating features; namely 1) nation branding, 2) the concept of ‘Cool’ and 3) the idea of ‘essential Japanese values’, within a diverse collection of symbols, message streams and candid imagery that can be better appreciated and more readily understood.
To properly articulate translation, is to essentially define it as a genre of artistry.
‘Artistry’ implies subjectivity. It confirms uncertainty, the lack of objectivity and exact science in translation as a craft and process. But translation as a craft also evokes a desire to understand; to render the unfamiliar so it may become familiar, if one were to paraphrase Hayden White (1978). This relationship of translation certainly reads like a process of linkage; a transportation railway that delivers meaning from one isolated frame of context (could be as vast as a country, or as mundane as an imperial/metric system transfer) to another. However, as I will be discussing here, such a reading on the art of translation would utterly erase the accents of such processes which give the newly translated entity its unique existence. Nothing exists as merely a ‘substitute’ for another.
In considering the ever-changing landscape of the multi-medium phenomenon that is Media, it is imperative that an overarching, theoretical concept, can strike a delicate balance between concrete, set-in-stone statements that roots all sub-concepts, and a malleable nature that allows new modern concepts to be safely slotted in and expand along with time, without much friction with the universal personality of the overarching theories; theories and concepts that concerns themselves with explaining the media and its relationship with human society. In this essay, I analyse Nicolas Couldry’s concept of ‘media rituals’, and consider what it achieves in explaining media’s role in society, how it performs in contemporary society and what has being done in refining this concept.Read More »
Duality: a simple but demonstratively cardinal term. The expressionistic properties of ‘duality’ alone can already form the metaphorical backbone of the most impressionable citings of physics, philosophy, mythology and visual arts in human history. Balance in its purest form constitutes two opposing beings; physical or otherwise, keeping each other in check. Gravity and mass, good and evil, light and dark. Man and machine.
As the central branding message surrounding the entire company, Microsoft’s 2014 (and still ongoing) multimedia campaign and its tonal stage-setting relies on the narrative implications of a single word: ‘Empower’. Thus, the campaign can be perceived as a hybrid brand establishment attempt by Microsoft, in solidifying its name and association within a worldwide humanitarian, innovative enterprising and creative paradigm. As one of the most recognisable brands in the world, Microsoft’s popular public image is a global but impersonal one.
Desire is an individualistic emotional construct that can almost ironically be considered the direct sibling of society-binding cultural norms, that indoctrinates individuals into adopting a collective mindset that does not stray far from the ‘normal’. What society deems desirable; however logical, the individual must desire as well. Individuals are constantly affected by the sometimes silent, but always prevalent pressures to buy, reshape and realign themselves back into the collective, popular narrative.
As active documenters and expressive anchors for their respective time periods, artists and creative practitioners all demonstrated engagements to the mechanics and characteristics of their time, which are in turn reflected by how they build upon their works, through utilizing tools and technologies of their time. As a result, significant advancements in human technological capabilities are readily reflected upon by artists, who finds new frames of perceptions for their audiences to experience their artworks, and find meaning through and from new mediums of expressions and sensual cues.