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Uncanny Realism: Mimesis and Metamorphosis in Japanese Theatre and Beyond

Cody Poulton, Professor, Department of Pacific and Asian Studies, University of Victoria

Roboticist Mori Masahiro's theory of the “uncanny valley” (the effect created when technology attempts to simulate life), a key hermeneutical tool not only for robotics research but also in contemporary media studies, alludes to seventeenth-century playwright Chikamatsu Monzaemon's assertion that “art lies in the slender margin between the real and the unreal.” The history of puppets and mechanical automata (karakuri ningyô) reflect a Japanese fascination since Chikamatsu's time with the technology of simulation and animation. Focusing on recent collaborations between playwright Hirata Oriza and roboticist Ishiguro Hiroshi, I will examine how theatre is being used as a platform for robotics research in Japan, transforming our notions of the limits of what is human and how to represent or replicate it.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014 | 4:15 pm — 5:30 pm | RSVP Required
Encina Hall, 3rd Floor

Center for East Asian Studies