Christina M. Spiker

Christina M. Spiker

Art Historian | Professor | Digital Humanist

Presentation // Exploring the Real Hokkaido: A.H. Savage Landor’s Travel Illustrations, 1893

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. “Exploring the Real Hokkaido: A.H. Savage Landor’s Travel Illustrations, 1893,” paper delivered at Rethinking the Space and Place of Japan: Japanese Art and GlobalizationsConference, UCLA (April 7, 2012).

ABSTRACT

Romanticized as a lone “Caucasoid” race surrounded by “Mongoloids,” the Ainu—an indigenous people from the Hokkaido, Kurile, and Sakhalin regions of northern Japan—fascinated turn-of-the-century tourists, anthropologists and intellectuals. Suffering from insatiable Wanderlust produced by the tempo of rapid modernization, people traveled to Hokkaido in search of an authentic Ainu experience outside of the Japanese treaty port. The unruly geography of Hokkaido was likened to Ainu physiognomy, and these “hairy” people seemed to epitomize a preindustrial, premodern past.

This paper examines the representation of the Ainu and Hokkaido in 19th and early 20th century travel illustration such as that by English explorer, painter, and budding ethnographer Arnold Henry Savage Landor (1865-1924) in his travel memoir Alone with the Hairy Ainu (1893). In search of the picturesque, Landor sketched his way through Hokkaido, recording the locales, people, and objects that he encountered along the way. What did Hokkaido represent for the Euro-American explorer? In addressing the theme “Authenticity is elsewhere,” I question what Landor was hoping to gain once he found the “authentic” Ainu village.

The Ainu and their popular representation as the “primitive picturesque” made them an apt subject for Landor’s illustrations, demonstrating a yearning desire to return to a simpler lifestyle. However, this desire is also enacted through simpler modes of picture making that the author was in fear of losing in the face of technological innovation. Instead of interpreting Landor’s travel illustration as a bi-product of his textual narrative, this project seeks to analyze the importance of illustration in contrast to other visual media like photography. I explore how the process of illustration functions as a medium that evokes a different kind of authorial authenticity through the artist’s pen and paintbrush.

TAGS

Pechakucha // “When My Clothes Came to an End I Did Without Them”: Going Native in Hokkaido, Japan

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. “’When My Clothes Came to an End I Did Without Them”: Going Native in Hokkaido, Japan,” Pechakucha paper delivered at the Constructing Worlds: Making and Breaking Order, Visual Studies Graduate Student Conference, UC Irvine (April 5, 2012).

TAGS

Presentation // The Ainu Moses: Arnold Genthe’s 1908 Ainu Photography

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. “The Ainu Moses: Arnold Genthe’s 1908 Ainu Photography,” paper delivered at the Japan Art History Forum graduate panel, College Arts Association, Los Angeles (February 24, 2012).

ABSTRACT

This paper examines the role of the Ainu in the Euro-American imagination through the study of Arnold Genthe’s photographs from his trip to Japan in 1908. Although representations of the Ainu are often discussed in the context of Japanese debates over race and ethnicity, it is my contention that the Ainu played a larger role than currently attributed in the construction of Euro-American identity prior to 1920. Representations of the Ainu are enmeshed in the discourse of the “vanishing race,” and provide an interesting example of what was thought to be a “proto-white” people by European and American anthropologists. Using Genthe’s photographs as an entryway into these debates of the early 20th century, I see his work as intersecting Meiji photographic practices, European interest in the Ainu as a form of self-assessment, and the budding field of American ethnography. Bridging terrain between Japanese and American visual culture, this paper examines the way in which Genthe’s photographs contribute to a transnational economy of images constructing notions of American and Japanese identity.

TAGS

css.php