I want to invite all the colleagues, who are interested in Art History, Cultural Heritage Management, and Digital Humanities, to this roundtable discussion, "Who Moved My Masterpiece? Digital Reproduction, Replacement, and the Vanishing Cultural Heritage of Kyoto." For more information, please contact Shoji Yamada, organizer, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who Moved My Masterpiece? Digital Reproduction, Replacement, and the Vanishing Cultural Heritage of Kyoto
Sat, Mar 23 - 10:45am - 12:45pm
Manchester Grand Hyatt / Mohsen A
Session Organizer: Shoji Yamada (International Research Center for Japanese Studies)
Chair: Greg Levine (University of California, Berkeley)
Discussant: Yuji Kurihara (Kyoto National Museum)
Discussant: Hyung Il Pai (University of California, Santa Barbara)
Discussant: Toshio Watanabe (University of the Arts London)
Discussant: Derek Gillman (The Barnes Foundation)
This roundtable will share current information on and critical analyses of the rapid digitization and in situ replacement of premodern paintings in Japan. Its participants, drawn from the fields of art history, image and information technology, and cultural heritage studies, seek to reconsider the digitization-replacement process and call into question its underlying conceptions of viewing, cultural stewardship, technology, and neoliberal ideology.
Beginning in the mid 1990s, multi-panel programs of wall and sliding door paintings (shōhekiga) adorning premodern temple, shrine, and residential structures located in Kyoto and other areas of Japan, as well as folding screen paintings owned by temples and other sites, have been progressively replaced in situ with full-scale digital reproductions. These often wholesale and dramatic replacement projects have been orchestrated through the collaboration of high-tech imaging and printing corporations, digital camera and printer manufacturers, public foundations, and university laboratories, with the cooperation of owners, museums, art historians, and the Agency for Cultural Affairs. The pace of such digitization and replacement has picked up since 2002, leading to the removal to storage of some of the most impressive and important shōhekiga programs and folding screens preserved in Kyoto temples, by painters such as Kanō Eitoku (1542-1590), Hasegawa Tōhaku (1539-1610), and Maruyama Ōkyo (1733-1795).
These time-consuming, technology-heavy, and tremendously expensive projects embody the synergy of owner/government and digital imaging industry goals: the former seeing digital reproduction and the replacement of original works on site as a means to preserve important and fragile works, and the latter instrumentalizing the digitization of cultural heritage for corporate advertisement, philanthropic image-making, and profit.
This movement to digitize and replace works of art has been celebrated by its advocates as an ideal solution to the preservation of cultural heritage. Absent from government, corporate, and local statements, and the bulk of media coverage, is detailed and transparent debate on the short and long-term implications of digitization-replacement for the study and preservation of works of art, public access to cultural heritage, site-based understandings of culture, cultural tourism, and technoculture markets. This roundtable seeks to engage and, in specific terms, raise voices against, these ongoing ventures.
International Research Center for Japanese Studies
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