Jonathan Abel, Ph.D., Princeton University
This talk examines representations of digital connectivity in the film Summer Wars as a way of understanding the recent uproar over self-cloistered youths and their excessive/obsessive use of new media in Japan, as well as the global fetish for virtual worlds. What do digital modes of perception have to offer the real world? Does social media wrench us from our world or enable us to better navigate it? Ultimately, Abel argues against the notions that the virtual spaces of anime are post-Cartesian, but rather finds the phenomenon of superflat merely a logical reaction to Cartesianism and, thus, caught within the perspectival axes it purports to flatten. The truly superflat perspective, however, may well be illustrated by social functions of web 2.0 media and the social interaction they enable rather than by the images of connectivity and representations of virtuality the new media present.
Abel studies the complete lifecycle of cultural products, from the process of conception through multiple receptions. His work foregrounds the historical contexts to literary production and consumption, while maintaining a space for those discursive meanings that transcend a particular time or place.