Machiko Kusahara
What is Japanese media art? While media art is an international phenomenon, it cannot escape certain influence from each society. At the same time the way a media artwork speaks to its audience is inevitably framed by the cultural environment. A great piece of art always has multiple layers. Behind its global layer a more subtle interpretation may appear, leading to a deeper understanding of each culture.

It is not widely known that the Japanese terms for visual art and fine art were coined only in late 19th century in the process of rapid westernization. It does not mean that art was absent in Japan until then. On the contrary, aesthetic mind was in everyday life in the forms such as haiku, bonsai, flower arrangement, or painted sliding doors and folding screens. Culture of play was also highly appreciated. A popular card came was based on selected medieval short poems with illustrations (Hokusai being one of the painters), later mass-produced by publishers such as Nintendo.

Japanese media art is primarily based on Western notion of art, but it reflects such culture that did not place clear border between art, design and entertainment. The lecture will introduce recent works from Japan including Device Art, and analyze its relationship to its related fields.

Dr. Machiko Kusahara is Professor at Waseda University and Visiting Scholar at UCLA. Her research focuses on the interplay between media culture, technology, and society in early visual media and contemporary media art.