April 4: Machiko Kusahara

For the next colloquium of the semester, held on April 4 (Thursday), we are very pleased to welcome Japanese scholar Machiko Kusahara, who will give a talk on the topic Utsushi-e: The 19th century Japanese screen practice as a precursor of ANIME

 The talk will start at 4pm in M6058.

Date: April 04, 2019 (Thursday)

Time: 4 pm

Venue: M6058, Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre, 18 Tat Hong Avenue, Kowloon Tong

Topic: Utsushi-e: The 19th century Japanese screen practice as a precursor of ANIME


Utsushi-e is a Japanese magic lantern performance that started in the beginning of the 19th century and remained extremely popular throughout the century, until the arrival of cinema. The magic lantern, the technology that was brought by the Dutch in the second half of the 18th century, was merged with the existing formats of storytelling and 2D aesthetics to form a unique screen practice. Popular stories – dramatic, romantic, horrifying or humorous – were presented with moving images on the screen, accompanied with narration, music, and sound effects. Exquisite techniques were developed in order to realize characters’ motion and emotion.

The talk will present the once lost screen practice with abundant video documentations and images from revived utsushi-e performances and related fields, examining the interaction between a new technology and the existing culture from a media archaeological approach.

The notion of “film” is no longer clear-cut in the era of digital technology. Similar is the distinction between live-action and animation. Utsushi-e is not only an interesting media by itself but also helps us to think about the “origins” of our image culture.


Machiko Kusahara is a scholar in media art and media archeology who lectures and publishes internationally on topics including media art, Device Art, magic lantern, and panorama.

She started curating and writing on computer graphics and media art in early 80s. Since then she served in launching venues including NTT/ICC and juried for international competitions including Ars Electronica and Japan Media Arts Festival. Her research focuses on interrelations among media technology, art, culture and society, both in contemporary and in early visual media.

Kusahara is Professor Emeritus at Waseda University and currently teaches at the graduate schools of Nihon University and Digital Hollywood University. Kusahara holds Ph. D in engineering from University of Tokyo.



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