In the early 1970s Japan was in the grip of an “occult boom” that exploded across popular media. This was a fad, but also something more: A popular media theory that tried to come to terms with a new media ecology. The ripple effects could be felt for decades in pop culture, politics, and social movements.
This talk will outline the occult boom in film and track its roots in a new relationship to media. It will trace its route through media mix zombies, the demise of the student movement and film producers’ conversations with UFOs. Focusing on two basic fantasies of a new kind of connectivity it will follow the logic of the occult film boom to its unexpected catastrophes.
On Thursday, November 22, Professor Zahlten will be in Montreal to give another talk supported by the Japan Foundation, Toronto, The Electric Ecology: Models of Connectivity in Japan’s Media Century, at Concordia University.
During October and November, the Japan Foundation Toronto is hosting a film series, DARK & OCCULT Films From Japan. Come get better acquainted with the subject of this talk by watching the occult films of 1970s & 1980s Japan.
Alexander Zahlten is Associate Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. His work centers on film and audiovisual culture in East Asia, with a focus on Japan. His recent work touches on topics such as film’s transition from environment to ecology, ‘amateur’ film and media production, or the different modes of media theorization that media cultures produce.
Recent publications include the co-edited volume Media Theory in Japan (Duke University Press, 2017, with Marc Steinberg) and his monograph The End of Japanese Cinema: Industrial Genres, National Times, and Media Ecologies (Duke University Press, 2017), which maps the transformations of the film industry in Japan from the 1960s – 2000s.
Among others he has curated film programs at the German Film Museum or the Japan Society New York. He was Program Director for the Nippon Connection Film Festival, the largest festival for film from Japan, from 2002 to 2010.