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<eyebeam><blast> image as ecriture

Dear Yukiko, 

I found the references, you wrote,  about the relation between
technologies and the body in Japanese culture, extremely  interesting,
and  I am ready to  suggest an even  more subversive interpretation of
this relationship between the body and technology, that  I experienced
here in Japan. After beeing  for eight months in Japan, living and
working in Tokyo, and especially having, what I perceived, the
privileged experience of life in Japan through my family, and not as a
single researcher, that means being in connection with the Japanese
reality through different roles, from a resercher, to woman, to artists,
wife and mother of my seventh years old son, who was attending  a
japanese kindergarten and now will go to school, I understood that
instant technology  is functioning in Japan more in a way of masking,
recoding and transcoding the body than as a way of communication and
connection. It is a process that allows the user to completely  hide his
or her physical body.  Layers of images are very suitable for  deepining
the hierarchical facades of the Japanese society.  But when the body
started to be disobedient and cataleptic this provoked a mass histeria
in Japan. That something holds true on this point of intersection
between the body, technology, and the image, we were taught by the 
Pockemon story, I analysed recently for the on line magazine Teleopolis.

Here is the story:

In December TV Tokyo suspended the weekly regularly broadcasting of the
popular Pocket Monster cartoon  /known as  Pokemon/ because a nearly 700
people, mostly children, nationwide were taken to hospitals after
watching the show on 16th of December 1997.  TV viewers  were afflicted
by an outbreak of convulsions and faintness, ending  with catalepsy. The
scene from Pokemon suspected to have sent hundreds to hospitals can be
described as a four-second of flashing red, blue, white and black
lights. It was a kind of strobe flash, like second sunlight, an extra
brightness, something so bright to the point that resulted in a
blindness and catalepsy  of the TV viewers. The Japanese National
Association of  broadcasting industry launched immediately an
investigation on the whole case which was completed  recently.

Pocket Monster is not only one of the leading metaphors of the Japanese
pop culture as this culture is tied down to cartoons, but moreover 
through Pockemon is possible to discuss some other important points
connected with the relation between our  physical body and the image.
Avoiding to fall into the mass psychological hysterical readings of the
always bad and dangerous influence of the TV to generations of viewers,
let try to establish an almost heretical interpretation of the event. We
can say that the TV epilepsy-like illnesses attack  brought back to a
mass of Japenese TV viewers the reality of  their physical bodies.

 If the human body was almost for more than a century captured, frozen
as image, as,  aproximately 120 years ago, in 1877-80, the psychiatrist
Martin Charcot's, at the  Paris'  Salpetriere hospital, have been taken
photographs of the hysterical patients with  the purpose to make the
illness visible /due to the underlying pathology of hysteria being
invisible/, in the Nineties the body fights back! With Pokemon's
hysterical and cataleptic-like suffering body we witness a reaction, a
disobedience, of , the until now, immobile, frozen body in relation to
the image and societal relationship. 

Hysteria was recognized as an illness only through making, by
photograph, visible the  woman's hysterical body. The success of
photography in anchoring hysteria had to do precisely with mechanisms
internal to photography, which are connected with its "reality effect"
and with  the photographic aparatus  potentiality  to freeze the
convulsive hysterical body. It seems that today  in the world overfilled
with images, to  make the body visible and to sense that we have a
physical body, the body  had to fall back again into hystery!, into an
outbreak of convulsions and faintness, ending with catalepsy.

On the other side, Pokemon allows us to discuss also the idea of total
visibility that is constantly produced by the mass media. Total
visibility is just media-processed, it is a construction. In reality we
have, as Peter Weibel once noted,  zones of visibility and zones of
invisibility.  The Pockemon Cataleptic Tuesday  event, Pockemon has been
aired every Tuesday since April 1997, did not only bring us  to the core
of the process of representation and to the so called zero point of
representation in relation to the physical body, but is an almost
psychotical  appearence of these, by mass media, constantly hidden zones
of  invisibility.  These zones  flashed  for a moment  so brightly on
the surface of the image, allowing  the body to be blind ! and

Marina Grzinic  grzinic@img.t.-kougei.ac.jp

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