for You Saw Nothing: Sight, Digital Video, Post-3.11 Japan

This practice-based PhD research auto-ethnographically situates the artist in the socio- political centre–periphery structure in post-3.11 Japan with her camera. The camera observes the irreducible details of the contemporary periphery, questioning what an understanding of the nation and the other means. The concealed power and sacrifice in modernity and capitalism are exposed through her production of digital video. The doctrine of growth that Japan embraces within the modernity is examined from the peripheries of Fukushima, Niigata, and Okinawa. These examinations establish the semiotics of speed conceptually engaging with the forward movement of digital video. They reconsider the apotheosis of growth with a focus on digital video as data and information, an embodiment of time–space compression.


The auto-ethnography positions the artist contradictorily between research subjectivities, as both the researcher and the researched. This dual positionality creates a conflicting investigative force in representation. From this conflict, the artist manifests the knowledge of unknowability in the realm of sight, from which new boundaries arise between the self– other. The trope of “you saw nothing” refutes reductionism involving the viewers/readers in the politics of seeing, knowledge, and representation, an invitation to the realm of sight as a space of contemplation.


This PhD thesis employs a multimodal narrative of an introduction and three chapters encompassing the presentation of four art works, and Waiting Room, an intermediate text between the chapters. Theatrically involving the readers in the intermediate space of waiting before the next chapter, Waiting Room centres the artist’s lived experience of art making over the objectivism of knowability.


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