Hiroshi Yoshioka: Hiroshima, Fukushima, and Beyond
September 14, 2017
Organized by the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan in collaboration with the Center for Japanese Studies, this talk focuses on several different images and narratives related to nuclear power, radiation, explosion, and nuclear disasters in the context of postwar Japan. They include visions inspired by atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, the diffusion of a legend hiding a possible atomic bombing, and images representing both hopes and fears about nuclear experiments and construction of nuclear power plants during the period of postwar economic growth after the 1950s. Today we find various images and narratives related to the Fukushima nuclear crisis caused by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Many people in Japan in the 1950s who longed for industrial development were convinced that nuclear power would be okay because it would be used for peaceful purposes and because experts assured it was technically safe, although they were still obsessed by nightmarish memories of the nuclear attacks exerted on the nation only a decade before. Their mind was, in a way, split into two totally different perceptions of nuclear power: a kind of psychological “border” was set in people’s mind, a border dividing a “good” nuclear energy from a “bad” one. In the realm of imagination, however, this border is sometimes transgressed in unexpected ways, and we find such transgressions in images in popular culture as well as in works of art, including most recently in the animated film, In This Corner of the World.
Hiroshi Yoshioka is professor at Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University. He is a researcher of aesthetics and art theory, freelance curator, editor, and artist. He has taught at IAMAS (Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences), and other universities. He is the author of many books such as Shiso no genzaikei: Fukuzatsukeu, dennokukan, afodansu (The Present Tense of Thought: Complex Systems, Cyberspace, and Affordance Theory), Kodansha, 1997; Joho to seimei: No, kompyuta, uchu (Information and Life: The Brain, Computers and the Universe) with Hisashi Muroi, Shin’yosha, 1993; and many essays and articles on philosophy, art, and media culture. He was the general director of Kyoto Biennale 2003 and Gifu-Ogaki Biennale of New Media Arts 2006. He was the editor of Diatxt (the critical quarterly of the Kyoto Art Center) and other publications such as Yorobon, which focuses on culture of the city of Yamaguchi, and Parajin, the publication project of PARASOPHIA Kyoto International Festival of Contemporary Culture 2015. He was the chair of ICOMAG (International Conference of Manga, Animation, Games and Media Arts) organized by the Agency of Cultural Affairs, 2011 – 13. He has been a member of the multimedia installation project BEACON since 1999. He is the president of the Japanese Society of Aesthetics.