Speaker: Hang Wu (PhD Student, Department of Cinema and Media Studies/ Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations)
“Information Processing: On Asian Cyberscapes in the Cyberpunk New Wave”
Friday, April 15th, 2022
5:10 – 7:10 pm CT, Hybrid (In-person at CWAC 152 + livestream via Zoom)
**This event is co-sponsored with the Digital Media Workshop**
*Please use this link to register for the zoom meeting. The password to this zoom session is “cyber0415.”
Abstract: The new wave of cyberpunk animation, cinema, short video, and games that proliferated after the 2010s encourages us to reconsider the relationship between the cyberscapes rendered in cyberpunk media and the cityscapes of Asia. Since the release of a series of cyberpunk films and TV animation in the 1980s, scholars have developed the concept of “techno-orientalism” to critique the imagination of Asian cityscapes in the cyberized future. However, this approach views “Asia” only in terms of a racialized imagination external to it. Aiming to go beyond the East-West dichotomy that is implicit in the techno-orientalism critique of cyberpunk media, I examine the relationship between the cyberpunk cyberscape and the Asian cityscape through the lens of information processing. In particular, I look at the staging of information interfaces (hologram projections and screens on high-rise buildings) and lighting effects (neon lights and LED lighting) in cyberpunk media that suggest the city processes information as a medium. Blending cinema & media studies and critical area studies, I argue that cyberpunk media draws to the fore the city in its information processing role and intensifies our perceptions of it as a global space located in Asia. Information processing serves as a key concept in this paper for thinking about (1) media infrastructures and aesthetics that afford an immersive viewing experience in the age of the digital; and (2) the emergent and open futures that the Asian cyberscapes evoke.
Hang Wu (She/They) is pursuing the joint Ph.D. degree in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies and the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. Their research mainly focuses on how the more-than-human may help expand the understanding of media and sovereignty in the context of East Asia, especially China and Japan. Their work has appeared in journals and edited volumes such as Animation: an interdisciplinary journal and Sound Communities in the Asia Pacific.