SOAS University of London

Japan Research Centre

Feeling the City: Contemporary Art and the Making of Critical Media Space

Miryam Sas Abstract
Professor Miryam Sas

Date: 6 December 2017Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 6 December 2017Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: KLT

Type of Event: Seminar


What does it mean to “feel the city”? Artists move through urban space, generating works that reframe our understanding of the masses, of collective life, and of community and collaboration.   How do individuals confront the extensive and overwhelming expanse of larger systems and structures that exceed their grasp?  What shapes can collectivity take, and how can the shifting layout of an assembled structure (institution, city, community) be altered by strategic intervention? Is it possible to be a multitude while alone?
This talk will take up examples from late 1950s art theory, from 1960s intermedia art and experimental music, from 1970s photography practices and from recent sculptural installation and current exhibitions to show innovative critical perspectives on collective practices in Japanese contemporary art over time.

Speaker biography

Miryam Sas is Professor of Comparative Literature and Professor of Film and Media at the University of California, Berkeley, with specializations in Japanese literature, film, theater, and dance; 20th century literature and critical theory (Japanese, French, English, German); and avant-garde and experimental visual and literary arts.  She is spending the year as a visiting researcher at the Centre d’Études et de Recherches Comparatistes (CERC) at Paris III Sorbonne Nouvelle. She received her undergraduate degree in Literature summa cum laude (French and English) from Harvard University and a joint PhD in Comparative Literature and East Asian Languages and Cultures from Yale University. Sas is the author of two books, Experimental Arts in Postwar Japan: Moments of Encounter, Engagement, and Imagined Return  (Harvard, 2010); and Fault Lines: Cultural Memory and Japanese Surrealism (Stanford University Press, released in 2001), and numerous articles in English, Japanese, and French on subjects such as Japanese futurism, cross-cultural performance, butoh dance, intermedia art pink film and Japanese experimental animation.  She is currently working on a book on media theory and intermedia art in Japan, Media Acts: Infrastructure, Potentiality, and the Afterlife of Art in Japan, for which she has been awarded a UC President’s Research Fellowship in the Humanities.

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