Organized Panel Session
This panel reconsiders the cultural legacy of the Japanese empire in the Asian Sinosphere to explore the uneven impact of Japan on the development of visual media over the twentieth century. It examines Republican China, Japanese-occupied Singapore, colonial and contemporary Taiwan as contact zones, where the vigorous exchange of cultural practices, technologies, and techniques across geopolitical boundaries brought together an often volatile mix of local and transnational forces. By looking at modern media’s history in these regions through the lens of crosscurrents, the papers collectively complicate historical narratives that posit the relationship between Japanese imperialism and its occupied territories as one of unidirectional influence.
The papers reflect on the transgressive potential of visual media, while acknowledging their complex, and at times complicit, symbiosis with established norms, practices, and relations of power. Lee presents the biography of Japanese-run Chiyo Yoko Photo Supplies as a prime case study on the deep entanglement of art, politics, and the business of photography in Shanghai before the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War. Matsuoka examines propaganda film policy in Japanese-occupied Singapore and the unexpected role of American films in the region’s wartime film programming. Wen explores how amateur cinema in colonial Taiwan exemplifies the confluence of transnational avant-garde and Japanese propaganda with still photography aesthetics and realist discourses. Focusing on the television series created by Taiwan’s Pili Puppet Theater, Chen uncovers its transmedial character and how it revitalizes a traditional performing art by drawing influences from contemporary Japanese animation.