In the early 1970s, the work of celebrated Japanese photographer and critic Nakahira Takuma (1938–2015) underwent a dramatic transformation. The intensive urbanization of Japan during the 1960s and ’70s would effectively redraw the nation’s social and political contours. These pivotal decades witnessed Japan’s integration into the U.S. geopolitical order, undertaken in fits and stages since Japan’s surrender in 1945. Through regional planning and infrastructural projects, such as airports, freeways, and nuclear reactors (including the Fukushima Dai’ichi plant), the entire archipelago was envisioned as an integrated network of communication, transportation, and exchange. At the same time, television and the expanded circulation of image media played an increasingly crucial role in mediating the fraught relationships between the urbanized centers and the remote limits of this wholly remade nation-state. This talk will explore how photographer and critic Nakahira Takuma wrought a vividly urban photographic vocabulary and praxis from the changing urban and media environments of Japan’s Cold War–fueled remaking. Engaging the linkages of Nakahira’s work from the early 1970s with emergent forms of radical film and urban discourse, I will outline a provocative moment of critique to reveal the shifting terrain of power and possibility at the crux of Japan’s Cold War urbanization.
Location: Campus Center, Weis Cinema