Through the digital looking glass: Japanese art and material culture in the discourse of classical whaling.

Author: Ayaka Nguyen

Nguyen, Ayaka, 2022 Through the digital looking glass: Japanese art and material culture in the discourse of classical whaling., Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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Japanese whaling culture and heritage are vast; however, when examining classical whaling practices or economies of Tokugawa Japan (1603-1867), few works of literature (in English) are dedicated solely to the discussion of amitori-hō or the “net method”. The classical technique, born in the Edo period, involved driving slow-moving whale species into large nets in the open sea, as opposed to the earlier harpoon and shoreline operations. The author has proposed an extension of Christer Westerdahl’s Maritime Cultural Landscape (MCL) framework to address the research gap. The proposed Digital Maritime Cultural Landscape (Digital MCL) extends on the existing architecture of the MCL to include the digital topography and its cultures. The author adopts ethnographic and archaeological methods to examine the relationship between Japanese art and material culture through an archaeological assessment of the digitalised emakimono (lit. picture scroll), Kishu Taiji-ura Great Whale Fishing Map (1862). The research reflects and examines the reliability and preservation of digitalised materiality as culture dives into new boundaries of digital and post-human environments. Undoubtedly, when space denotes some form of anthropological narrative, a potential archaeological discourse presents itself.

Keywords: Amitori-hō, Classical Japanese Whaling, Digital Humanities, Digitalised Heritage, Digital Materiality, Emakimono, Japanese Script and Painting, Maritime Cultural Landscape, Maritime Heritage, Narrative Art, Net Method, Whaling Culture

Subject: Archaeology thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2022
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Dr Martin Polkinghorne