asiascape vistas

Techno-Culture, New Politics, and Philosophy in East Asia

Asiascape Vistas is a forum for discussion about the many and various dimensions of cyberculture found in or originating from East Asia. Its focus is on the interplay between these media and questions of politics & philosophy. Contributions are from the academic collective responsible for the core project, but other contributions will also be considered by that collective.
If you wish to contribute to Asiacape Vistas, please send an email using the form on the contact page.

The Challenge of Studying Digital Asia - An Introduction to the academic journal 'Asiascape: Digital Asia'

written by Florian Schneider, editor of Asiascape: Digital Asia

In August and September 2012, the Internet was awash with Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese discussions over a set of islands in the East China Sea that the governments of all three nations lay claim to. The dispute has been a recurring issue in East Asian regional relations, but over the past decade more and more people have become "switched into" this seemingly classic-realist international relations topic through new information and communication technologies (ICTs).

As millions of bloggers and tweople followed the actions of activists and politicians, and as nationalist protests spilled into the streets in China and Japan, one post on the Chinese micro-blogging service Weibo inspired particularly heated discussions. Yet the post did not come from a politician or from an activist. It did not call for the burning of more flags, for boycotts of foreign goods, or for decisive military intervention. The post was a calligraphy that promoted the friendship between the people of China and Japan, and it had been sent by the Japanese porn star Sola Aoi.

With the speed that arguably only digital communication allows, the calligraphy travelled across the region, reaching over 13 million people. It received more than 140,000 comments - many derogatory, but many also critically discussing the conflict, as well as the meaning of national identity in 21st century East Asia.

This example is symptomatic of the challenges that established academic disciplines face as they explore developments in an increasingly interlinked region such as Asia. The ubiquity of digital ICT fuels processes that have always been complex and dynamic, but it has arguably never before facilitated and shaped politics, economics, culture, and society to such a degree as today.

Other examples from the region abound: In South Korea, online computer games have become so popular that individual matches are broadcasted on TV. In South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, election campaigns are accompanied by online activism in the form of twitter and blogging, which in turn has inspired Taiwanese and South-Korean politicians to integrate new media content into their campaigns. In India, the government is building a controversial digital biometric database that will include personal information on over a billion citizens, allowing for unprecedented experiments in e-governance.

Read more on the DIAS page...

How Video Games help fuel Space Exploration

Sean Captain for TechNewsDaily

Dr. Richard Gariott de Cayeux
Having traveled to other worlds in his game creations such as "Ultima," Richard Garriott de Cayeux (video game developer and entrepreneur) is now doing the real thing. He flew to the International Space Station in 2008 (on a reported $30 million ticket). And his company, Space Adventures, has organized flights on Soyuz craft for about a dozen other moguls.

At the South by Southwest conference in Austin this week, Garriott de Cayeux explained why he thinks that private companies can make spaceflight radically cheaper and more common. Ideas include having NASA contract with private rocket companies for human spaceflight instead of building all its own craft (which it already does to launch robots such as the Mars Rover Curiosity). Garriott de Cayeux also promotes reusable spacecraft, which he claims offer tenfold to hundredfold cost savings.

Elon Musk of SpaceX, the most successful extraterrestrial entrepreneur so far, is testing reusable technology called Grasshopper. And so is John Carmack, creator of blockbuster video game franchises "Doom" and "Quake." His company, Armadillo Aerospace, is focused on building reusable craft.

TechNewsDaily asked Garriott de Cayeux why game creators are attracted to spaceflight.

"If there was something specific to the games industry, it would have to be from exploring virtual worlds," he said. "It would have to be … creating experiences that let people go into the unknown. Noting his many adventures, including into space, to Antarctica and to the bottom of the ocean, he said, "I find my drive to go explore is identical and very closely linked with my personal drive to create things for people to explore."

But the images in many games may not be the best thing to motivate future generations of explorers, said astronaut Mae Jemison. In a panel session, she spoke about the 100 Year Starship Project she leads, which aims to kick-start the technologies to make interstellar spaceflight possible within a century.
Many of the most popular video games over the years, including "Doom" and "Quake," are also very violent. "I'm struck by the fact that we have all the slasher, blood-and-guts, shoot-'em-up movies and stuff like that," Jemison said. "It doesn't make you very hopeful for the future."

Jemison's fellow panelist Jill Tarter of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) said that games could be helpful, "to the extent that people can … build interactive experiences that aren't always shooting and competitive."

LeVar Burton of "Star Trek" fame, also on the panel, told TechNewsDaily that he was excited about the use of biofeedback in games. "I can certainly imagine games that are … first-person experience, where you really have to be in a calm and imaginative state in order to advance in the gameplay," he said. "And I think that's a lot more productive in terms of entrainment than … the first-person shooter." [See also: Video Games Improve Surgeons' Skills]

Jemison also sees games as a way to study how people interact, which is critical to creating livable conditions for a space mission that will span entire lifetimes. Games, she said, could help to, "ferret out some information about human behavior."

Burton agreed: "Using gameplay to problem-solve — fantastic use of the technology."

Ridley Scott and Machinima Team Up to Produce 12 Sci-Fi Short FIlms

Stan Schroeder on Mashable, 12 March 2013

Director Ridley Scott (Blade Runner) and video entertainment network Machinima have partnered up to produce 12 science fiction short films.

The shorts will not be directed by Scott himself; he and Machinima will choose directors from Ridley Scott's production company — RSA. The list of possible directors is starry and includes Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas), Sam Mendes (Skyfall), Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) and Neill Blomkamp (District 9).

The idea is that at least some of these short films will lead to new sci-fi franchises, with both RSA and Machinima reaping the rewards.

“RSA has always been at the forefront of creating innovative work. With new media transforming the way audiences connect with films and filmmakers, Machinima is a great partner for us as we embark on this new model of delivering original content to fans. It’s a tremendous opportunity for pushing the creative boundaries for both our filmmakers and the audience,” said Scott in a statement.

Though 75 years old, Scott is not afraid to experiment with new formats and distribution channels. In 2010, he produced a YouTube project called "Life in a Day," which captured one day (July 24, 2010) through the cameras of people around the world.

Machinima, a video network aimed at gamers, owns the top entertainment channel on YouTube and reaches "210 million" unique viewers.

Life in a Day by Ridley Scott

Taiwanese artist wins big at Tokyo International Anime Fair

Taken from the 'Asahi Shimbun'

Taiwanese animation artist Tsai Shiu-cheng's "Time of Cherry Blossoms" won the Grand Prix prize in the Open Entries category of the Tokyo Anime Awards (TAA) competition. It is the second work from Taiwan to win the top prize, following "Adventures in the NPM" in 2008. The short film was previously showcased at the 2011 Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia, as well as at other events in Japan.

Held for the 12th time as part of the Tokyo International Anime Fair, the competition honors excellence in works of animation submitted by amateur artists.

Danish artists Christen Bach and David Tart each won the Outstanding Work Award in the general division of the category.
A Chinese short film won the special prize, with two French works receiving an honorable mention.
Of the 11 award-winning works in the category, six came from outside Japan.

Meanwhile, Laputa Art Animation School student Yuka Aoki won the Outstanding Work Award for her "Nani to Natta" (Nani and Natta), with Ikuo Kato's "My Socks" taking honorable mention in the student division.
Chinese student Hu Yuanyuan from the Graduate School of Film and New Media of the Tokyo University of the Arts won the outstanding award for her "Sunset Flower Blooming," while Keiko Shiraishi's "Hide-and-Seek" and Kaori Iwase's "A Grandma's Goldfish" got honorable mentions.
Winners in the "Nomination Entries" category for commercial anime titles will be announced at the awards ceremony to be held at a special stage set up at the TAF 2013 on March 23. A special exhibition dedicated to recipients of the Award of Merit will also be offered.

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