Asian Visual Cultures Workshop
The Asian Visual Cultures Workshop is a one-day workshop event initiated by graduate students working on Asia and visual cultures from diverse disciplines since spring 2008. As the second annual event, the workshop for this year will take place on April 10, 2009. Conceived as an open forum for intellectual interactions and the networking among graduate students and scholars, the workshop invites visual and performing artists, in addition to academic scholars and their projects. Taking “Asian Visual Cultures” as both a critical mode of thinking and objects of analysis, the workshop aims to provide a space of dialogue for participants who are interested in the aesthetics and politics of visuality in locations of Asia.
The Asian Visual Cultures Workshop is founded on principles of interdisciplinarity in the study and approach to emerging visual cultures from and within Asia. Initially organized by graduate students belonging to different departments and programs, the first workshop event took place on April 13, 2008. The workshop was a dynamic event with diverse presentations and discussions on individual projects, followed by a faculty-student dialogue with Professors Jonathan Hall and Bert Wither-Tamaki. Along with the participants, the workshop delivered critical discussions and comments on crucial issues in Asian visual cultures, including area studies, medium specificity, and transnationalism in visual cultures. Since it is our goal to provide a friendly environment for intellectual communication, the roundtable setting created a professional and vibrant channel for the participants, faculty members, as well as audiences from neighboring universities and local communities.
Based on the warm reception we received from the last event, the organizing committee for this year would like to propose a second annual event to our workshop, as a way to expand and interrogate our understanding of Asian visual cultures, and new methods and approaches to emerging forms of visuality in Asia. Since questions of disciplinarity, knowledge formation, and transnational visuality surfaced as a central concern for the participants in the previous workshop, we would like to further those discussions, as the workshop and the concept of Asian visual cultures serve as a common platform for an interdisciplinary forum. Since this is a workshop that emphasizes community-building and sharing of recourses, the workshop will be experimental in nature as we prioritize the time and space for dialogues. Like last year, we would like to invite 3 panels of presenters (each panel with 3 presenters), and each presentation will be followed by a roundtable discussion open to all. In addition to the presentations, the workshop would like to invite two distinguished Asian female artists to a conversation on how their diasporic and transnational experiences influence the way they relate to “Spaces,” such as body, city, home, and the nation.
Considering Asian visual cultures as a critical approach, we would like to propose “Erratic Landscapes” as the theme for this year. By invoking the term “Asia” in our workshop title, Asian visual cultures ask questions not only about disciplinary formation, but also the geopolitics and the entity called “Asia.” Given the unprecedented speed and intensity of image and media circulations in the contemporary era, visuality is often the most direct and prevalent form in which Asia is constructed, remembered and consumed. In more specific terms, the question of being Asian, whether as an overt identity or a set of malleable positions, is inextricably linked to the way spaces are mobilized in visual texts and academic projects. By proposing the term “Erratic Landscapes,” we would like to invite participants to reflect on the significance of landscapes and spaces in their works. While departing from a way of thinking about landscapes as pre-given and natural, the concept of “Erratic Landscapes” pushes for an understanding of spaces as constructed, conditioned, and unpredictably volatile. Furthermore, we would like to propose a theoretical re-thinking of “landscape” as conceptual figures so the term would encompass different forms of cultural imaginations. Possible sub-topics for workshop include: Landscape and Affect; Sovereignty and Territoriality; Landscapes of the Everyday; Bodyscape; Musical Landscape; Politics of Emptiness; Tourism and Sightseeing; Queer Space and the interrogation of gendered space; and new modes of Mobility and Displacement.
Finally, the Asian Visual Cultures Workshop would like to continue its goal in networking available recourses, scholars, artists, and people for the benefit of a growing community. Choosing “Erratic Landscapes” as the theme for this year, the workshop organizers would like to highlight the importance of “space” as a deeply personal and political analytical concept for approaching Asian visual cultures as a transnational project. For this reason, we will greatly appreciate your support from the Multicampus Research Group.
In our hope to critically think about the geopolitics of landscapes, the workshop would like to invite Gina Kim and Sola Liu as our guests in a special dialogue session tentatively titled “My Body, My Voice: New Sensibilities of Landscaping Diaspora.” Filmmaker Gina Kim received her MFA from Cal Arts and taught film production and film studies classes as a lecturer in Harvard University. Her first feature-length film Never Forever was premiered at Sundance film festival 2007 and was awarded with Jury prize at Deauville American Film Festival 2007. Depicting the love affair between a Caucasian housewife and an illegal immigrant from Korea, Never Forever delivers a poignant portrayal of bodily and racial landscapes in a story set in New York. Experimental composer, vocalist and novelist Sola Liu graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music in China and composed music for symphony orchestras, ensembles, solo instruments, as well as music for film, television, modern theater and dance productions. Also as an acclaimed experimental writer, her novella You Have no Choice won the 1988 Chinese national novella award. Her experiences of traveling and living in New York and London are major sources of inspiration for her works. Since both Sola Liu and Gina Kim frequently visit the community of Irvine, a suburban city that delivers radically different experiences from other metropolitan cities, we believe that the special dialogue session will be intellectually stimulating as well as creatively inspiring.