The Western Scientific Gaze and Popular Imagery in Later Edo Japan: The Lens within the Heart

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Cambridge University Press, Apr 26, 1996 - Art - 321 pages
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This is the first study to consider the introduction of Western technology in the eighteenth century, when, it has been assumed, Japan continued to isolate itself from external influence. Timon Screech demonstrates that the introduction of such Western equipment as lenses, mirrors, and glass had a profound impact on Japanese notions regarding the faculty of sight. The enormity of this paradigm shift was, moreover, felt less in Japanese scientific inquiry than in art and popular culture, where the devices were often depicted and used metaphorically, as commentary on the prevailing social norms. Based on archival sources, here published for the first time, this study also sheds new light on Japanese art and its relation to the West; the relationship of science to art and popular culture; and the autonomy and internationalisation of Japanese culture.

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