Christina M. Spiker

Christina M. Spiker

Art Historian | Professor | Digital Humanist

Mechademia 2019; Queer(ing) Through the Fetishized Body

I couldn’t be more thrilled to take part in the 2019 Mechademia, which has the theme of Queer(ing) this year. My paper will take some of the previous work I’ve done on the Ainu video game character Nakoruru from Samurai Shodown to explore ideas of fetish with the indigenous body in doujinshi. I’m still refining the paper, but excited to see how it turns out. Our panel was convened by Frenchy Lunning and it is cross-disciplinary bringing together scholars from art history and literature from both Macalester and St. Olaf College. If you are in the Twin Cities, it is a conference well worth participating in. The atmosphere is incredibly constructive and curious. And there is a fashion show. Yes.

Here is the information on our panel:

September 28th, Session IV, 4:30-6pm

Panel 10: room 450
Queered Through the Foreign, Fictional, and Fetishized Body
Frenchy Lunning, convener and discussant

 

Queer Desire for the Black Body in Ôe Kenzaburô’s “Prizestock”
Arthur Mitchell, Macalester College

The “Nakoruru Problem”: The Malleable Ainu Image in Samurai Shodown, 1993-2019
Christina Spiker, St. Olaf College

Virility, the “Coolie,” and Control in Manchukuo: The Ambivalence of Chinese Masculinity in Japanese Photography, 1931-1940
Kari Shepherdson-Scott, Macalester College

“The Multiplicity of Queer Desire in Matsuura Rieko’s The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P
Joanne Quimby, St. Olaf College

Come join the festivities in Minneapolis from 9/27-9/29!

Nakoruru Mondai

Public Lecture on Ainu Representation @ Macalester (9/19)

I couldn’t be more excited to be delivering a public lecture at Macalester College on September 19th. If you are interested in blending Art History, Asian Studies, and Indigenous Studies, I encourage you to come. My talk is titled “Indigenous Modernity in Hokkaido, Japan: the Complexities of Ainu Representation in Photography and Illustration” and is sponsored by the departments of Art and Art History, Asian Studies, and the Office of Academic Programs. The talk arises out of research completed for my dissertation and figures who I continue to grapple with. In addition to exploring the dominant images that forged the Ainu stereotype in the Euro-American imagination, I will be examining how Ainu producers of image and text—such as Takekuma Tokusaburō and Katahira Tomijirō—engaged with these dominant representations. I feel that understanding the gradual development of optical consistency from photographs to the illustrations based on them can better illuminate the calcification of Ainu stereotypes at home and abroad, as well as expand our understanding of photography as a visual medium in Meiji and Taishō Japan.

For those interested:

Title: “Indigenous Modernity in Hokkaido, Japan: the Complexities of Ainu Representation in Photography and Illustration”

Location: JBD Lecture Hall, Campus Center, Macalester College

Time: 6-7:30pm (talk followed by Q&A)

Gender and Race in Street Fighter II and Samurai Shodown: Presentation at Mechademia

I am continuing my journey down the rabbit hole of Japanese arcade fighting games with a presentation at Mechademia: Conference on Asian Popular Cultures at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. The program is forthcoming, but I will be presenting “Fighting Stereotypes: Reimagining Gender and Race in Street Fighter II (1991) and Samurai Shodown (1993)” on September 25th. Our panel is on the Global and Local, and runs from 10-12pm.

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I have had a personal goal of participating in Mechademia in some way, shape, or form ever since I began teaching Japanese visual culture. My students at both UC Irvine and St. Olaf College took well to the myriad essays found in the Mechademia series, which I hear they are rebooting with Mechademia 2.0, Volume 1 of the Second Arc on “Childhood.” I find many of the readings to be accessible to undergraduates, and they went a long way in offering alternative interpretations of the works we were screening in class. I hope that I will have an opportunity to use the series as a resource here at St. Kate’s. Regardless, it scares me to think that I’ve been reading essays from Mechademia since just before I entered graduate school… How time flies… Has it really been that long?

While my paper at Console-ing Passions focused primarily on Ainu representation in Samurai Shodown and its relationship to indigenous activism through the 1990s, the work I am presenting at Mechademia explores a different avenue of inquiry (although Nakoruru, Rimururu, and Mamahaha will still make a significant appearance). My preliminary research on arcade fighting games in Japan taught me one important lesson: there isn’t too much work being done in that arena. But games like Street Fighter II have so much potential to explore as both domestic and international products. While playing at world-building (and, in some cases, destroying), they also negotiate notions of gender and race with combat strength and Cold War politics. My paper will take a look at the image of Chun-Li in Street Figher II and Nakoruru of Samurai Shodown in an effort to start a conversation about the aesthetics of race and gender in the genre. It is an invigorating break from editing this chapter on the 19th century. So for now, I leave you with this epic image of Chun-Li about to kick butt as only she knows how.

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Recomposition

VS Recomposition Conference 2015It is that time of year again! This year’s annual Visual Studies Graduate Conference, themed “Recomposition,” is taking place at UC Irvine on April 3rd in Humanities Gateway 1030. Several colleagues of mine will be presenting papers if you are in the area.

The conference adopts the following interpretation of “recomposition”:

This theme explores cultural articulations of “recomposition” as a material, social, and aesthetic principle. Recomposition refers to a physical or material phase change, a process that oscillates uneasily between decay and regeneration. As opposed to the more negative “decomposition,” Recomposition requires an attention to processes of regrowth. In science, the laws of the conservation of matter and energy demands that whatever is lost must be gained elsewhere. Accordingly, Recomposition maintains that decay and growth, loss and gain, degeneration and regeneration must exist on a shifting continuum.

After a generative think-tank on the theme, the committee solicited papers along the lines of the following key phrases: deterioration, illness and death, uncounted objects and/or bodies, generative decay, weak affects, media archeology, aporia, active negation, dispossession, survival, endurance, conundrums of solidarity, governmentality of “crisis”, abandonment, ecological dilemmas, ruptures in history and temporality, dark economies, censorship and redaction.

Full schedule if you are interested!

SMPTE Color Bars, Warhol, and Visual Studies

Screenshot 2014-10-24 19.48.39UCI’s Visual Studies Ph.D. Program just relaunched its website. You definitely know you’ve been in graduate school too long when you’ve weathered three site redesigns and a curriculum overhaul. The tick-tock of that dissertation clock just keeps on getting louder and louder!

But in all seriousness, the site is a welcome improvement. The SMPTE color bars juxtaposed with a sculpture by Isamu Noguchi add a strange, but fitting touch. This bizarre contrast, for me, defines our program. I remember being a first-year student, sitting in seminar, and being challenged to define Visual Studies apart from Art History and Film and Media Studies. Noguchi meets SMPTE color bars. It is as simple as that.

Invoking a Japanese American artist next to these iconic televisual bars, I couldn’t help but remember this Japanese commercial for TDK Videotape featuring Andy Warhol, the music of Jun Miyake, and a television test pattern officially called “Engineering Guideline EG 1-1990.”


赤… 緑… 青… 群青色… きれい

(Un)Making the Visual Subject

(Un)Making the Visual SubjectAlthough I am not in California at the moment, I wanted to pass around the 2014 Visual Studies Graduate Conference announcement. The conference, titled “(Un)Making the Visual Subject,” is being held on April 4th, 2014 at UC Irvine. It features talks from Bert Winther-Tamaki, Eyal Amiran, and Zeinabu Irene Davis, followed by a screening of Mississippi Damned (dir. Tina Mabry, 2009) with remarks by the director and a Q&A moderated by Jared Sexton.  For the official schedule and other details, please visit this website.

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