Between Art and Industry: Middle-Class Masculinity and Middlebrow Aesthetics in Early Twentieth-Century Japan

September 25, 2017 - 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
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This presentation will highlight the intersection of gender and photographic consumption and production during the early twentieth century in Japan. Japanese camera companies like Konishi Honten (today's Konica Minolta) deployed state of the art marketing and retailing strategies as well as created a multitude of innovative ways for consumers, in particular male consumers, to participate in photography, including brand-based clubs and thematic contests. Publishing companies produced photographic how-to literature for photographers, mostly men, that defined the boundaries of appropriate photographic practice. And, the photographs made by these amateurs demonstrated technical skill and artistic sensibility. Hobbyists of the time period usually made pictures in the pictorial style. Pictorialsm was an approach to photography that demanded not only technical skill, but also an artistic sensibility - activities that ran parallel to middle-class male aspirations - an active role in consumption that matched their incomes and leisure-time activities that placed value on creativity as well as productivity.

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  • Asian/Pacific Studies Institute