Japan

Organized Panel Session

2 - Architext: An Oblique Activism in Architecture

Friday, March 23
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Delaware Suite A, Lobby Level

Amid the protest culture for independence/individuality in postwar Japan, a changing sense of “self” transpired, argues social psychologist Hiroshi Minami. This was reflected in two national surveys on “common life philosophy,” administered by the Japanese Ministry of Education. The vote for “to live a pure and just life” in 1953 changed to “to live one’s life according to one’s own tastes” in 1968.


Architecture, too, witnessed the rise of “self.” The Japan Architect vividly captured the individualist ethos in the post-1968 with an adaptation of Tawaraya Sotatsu’s folding screen Fujin Raijin (Wind God Thunder God); underneath two architectural deities, thirty-four architects (represented as cumulonimbus clouds) surged and billowed, each advocating his/her own views. To throw light on the architect’s advocacy for “self,” this paper centers on an informal non-group (of five individualists/architects), ArchiteXt, and its self-published architectural ephemera, ArchiteXt (1970-72). Brushing aside the Japanese “emotionless behavior,” the members convened at a local bar and originated their publications amid drinks and cheers. The casual format of ArchiteXt mirrored the formation of ArchiteXt: five loose, accordion-fold leaves of parchment in an envelope reflecting five individualists in a non-group.


Drawing on conceptions of History of Emotions, my paper makes explicit ArchiteXt’s oblique activism veiled in an ostensible lightheartedness. Contrasting with the typically serious activists, ArchiteXt wielded varied lighthearted emotive—as opposed to emotion, as historian William Reddy distinguishes the terms—and campaigned for “self” with originality, flair, and most important, affect.

Lisa Hsieh

University of Minnesota, Minnesota

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