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
Philippines Conference Room, Encina Hall, 3rd Floor

Center for East Asian Studies