Representing a New Life: Visual Images and Cultural Reform in East Asia

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Representing a New Life: Visual Images and Cultural Reform in East Asia
Stream: Art/Art History
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Shih-Cheng Huang, University of Tsukuba, Japan (organizer, presenter)
Noriko Murai, Sophia University, Japan (chair, discussant)
Ya-Pei Yang, University of Tokyo, Japan (presenter)
I-Fan Chen, University of California, San Diego, United States (presenter)
Chih-Ho Lin, University of California, San Diego, United States (presenter)


This panel will examine the tension between the authority and the visual images of everyday life in the formation of a new culture in Japan and China. Visual images, including but not limited to paintings, magazines, comics, and folk art, provided a repertoire for the authority to absorb, sift, and transform to build a culture that propagates its vision for the future. The panelists present four case studies, each focusing on a critical period when the authority strived to build a new culture through reforming everyday images, and inquire how the production, circulation, and interpretation of the images aided or resisted these projects. Yang focuses on the Hōrai-themed paintings that were circulated in Edo Japan and discusses how the two distinctive styles of Yamato-e (classical Japanese) and Chinese landscape style signify the diverging cultural identity of the Tokugawa shogunate and the literati respectively. Huang examines highly homoerotic images of young males published in popular magazines from the 1930s and investigates the ambivalent role such imagery played in the construction of young male subjects in imperial Japan. Chen focuses on the display of folk crafts and modern design in the 1941 exhibition Objects of National Life and questions how the wartime national narrative recast everyday life. Finally, eyeing on images of lianhuanhua comics, Lin dissects the visual mechanism of the state-controlled entertainment in socialist China that portrayed the process of agricultural collectivization in a style reminiscent of woodblock prints from the late Ming dynasty.