Symposium development

Today I had a session with Shaun Hides about my Symposium project, it really helped me out getting to talk about my work with someone who didn’t have any idea what it was about at first, it allowed me to see which areas made sense.

This first Issue was my title, I went into the meeting with this title.

An examination into Contemporary (1980-2012) Photography’s role within Japan’s Post-WWII adolescent consumerist culture.

We then talked about how my 3 statements aren’t supported by the title. It needs to be defined. I am not examining Photography I am looking at the tension between 2 areas, commercialism and activism. A look at the contradictions between the safe glossy images we expect to see and the images that challenge our perspective on Eastern culture. Maybe I don’t need to rewrite the whole title, just have a sub-header which clarifies my thoughts.

New title:
An examination into Contemporary (1980-2012) Photography in Japans adolescent culture.

Sub title:
Investigating the tension between consumerist and activist photography; using the sexualisation of women as an example.

I’m struggling with a word for the second type of photography I am looking at, the kind that makes you questions your society, or raises issues, and has more substance that consumerist work. The best I could come up with is controversial  this isn’t a permanent word but will do for now. Maybe Activist is the right word? Something that promotes social change.

Considering my context.

The other huge thing that needs enforcing is defining my position as a Westerner, we see a selected amount of Eastern culture, I am not trying to speak on behalf of all aspects in asian culture, just my perspective on it. Shaun led me to a book by Edward Said called “Orientalism” which discusses the west’s perspective of the East. I will be following up to this in the next few days with an examination of the book.

Using one specific example to prove my point.

The last major thing we spoke about was the one thread that hold it all together, I was trying to avoid looking at the representation of women as many other people in our class are looking at that, however it’s a huge issue in Japans adolescent culture, it’s also a key part to consumerism, it’s a method of selling which some photographers are highlighting as a problem. This will be my thread that holds it together. I just have to make sure at the end I say that the representation of women is one example and it can be applied to other areas within popular culture.

We also spoke about more regarding how to display my context, it’s important not to assume people know about Japanese popular culture, but just as equally it isn’t good to patronise them. Instead, after establishing my footing as a westerner, I should tell the story of Japanese pop culture, “In Japan this is what happens…” and use images in the background, but not in a way where I explain each one, the images should be a visual reinforcement of my words not the other way round.

Ways forward now?

Read Shaun’s recommended books…
– Dick Hebdige
– Raymond Williams
– William Gibson – Pattern recognition – fictional book about a woman who’s allergic to bad brands. (Book ordered and on it’s way)
– Idoru – Virtual Japanese popstar. (Book ordered and on it’s way)
– Edward Said – Orientalism (also follow us on controversial arguments, there are a lot)

I also want to speak to some of the Japanese students living in Coventry, I want to get their thoughts on the most influential commercial photos in Japan, and see if we could have a discussion about Japanese popular culture and how it’s represented in the West.

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