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Ambient Media

Japanese Atmospheres of Self

2016
Author:

Paul Roquet

Ambient Media

How atmospheric media have come to shape urban Japan

Ambient Media examines music, video art, film, and literature as tools of atmospheric design in contemporary Japan. Paul Roquet traces the emergence of ambient styles from the environmental music and Erik Satie boom of the 1960s and 1970s to the more recent therapeutic emphasis on healing and relaxation to make a case for portraying ambient media as a neoliberal response to older modes of collective harmony.

Through a series of probing interventions, Paul Roquet generates a new environment for Japan studies—one that takes into account the faint, ambient, receding, and ubiquitous immaterialities that fill Japan's ether. This is a work worth noticing.

Akira Mizuta Lippit, University of Southern California

Ambient Media examines music, video art, film, and literature as tools of atmospheric design in contemporary Japan, and what it means to use media as a resource for personal mood regulation. Paul Roquet traces the emergence of ambient styles from the environmental music and Erik Satie boom of the 1960s and 1970s to the more recent therapeutic emphasis on healing and relaxation.

Focusing on how an atmosphere works to reshape those dwelling within it, Roquet shows how ambient aesthetics can provide affordances for reflective drift, rhythmic attunement, embodied security, and urban coexistence. Musicians, video artists, filmmakers, and novelists in Japan have expanded on Brian Eno’s notion of the ambient as a style generating “calm, and a space to think,” exploring what it means to cultivate an ambivalent tranquility set against the uncertain horizons of an ever-shifting social landscape. Offering a new way of understanding the emphasis on “reading the air” in Japanese culture, Ambient Media documents both the adaptive and the alarming sides of the increasing deployment of mediated moods.

Arguing against critiques of mood regulation that see it primarily as a form of social pacification, Roquet makes a case for understanding ambient media as a neoliberal response to older modes of collective attunement—one that enables the indirect shaping of social behavior while also allowing individuals to feel like they are ultimately in control.

Ambient Media

Paul Roquet is a postdoctoral fellow in global media and film studies at Brown University.

Ambient Media

Through a series of probing interventions, Paul Roquet generates a new environment for Japan studies—one that takes into account the faint, ambient, receding, and ubiquitous immaterialities that fill Japan's ether. This is a work worth noticing.

Akira Mizuta Lippit, University of Southern California

Ambient Media is an ambitious work that introduces the reader to a captivating cross-section of ambient media in the current Japanese mediascape, with a particular focus on sound and image-based arts. Paul Roquet smartly cuts through multiple strata from music to experimental performance to design, offering a fresh and novel perspective on the atmospheres of ambient media.

Marc Steinberg, Concordia University

A gateway into a world of arresting and inspiring electronic media.

New Books in Music

Ambient Media

Contents

Introduction: Reading the Air
1. Background Music of the Avant-Garde: The Quiet Boom of Erik Satie
2. The Sound of Embodied Security: Imaginary Landscapes of Ambient Music
3. Moving with the Rhythms of the City: Ambient Video Attunements
4. Soft Fascinations in Shallow Depth: Compositing Ambient Space
5. Subtractivism: Low-Affect Living with Ambient Cinema
6. Healing Style: Ambient Literature and the Aesthetics of Calm
Conclusion
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Film and Videography
Discography
Index