In Japonisme and the Birth of Cinema, Daisuke Miyao explores the influence of Japanese art on the development of early cinematic visual style, particularly the actualit films made by the Lumi re brothers between 1895 and 1905. Examining nearly 1,500 Lumi re films, Miyao contends that more than being documents of everyday life, they provided a medium for experimenting with aesthetic and cinematic styles imported from Japan. Miyao further analyzes the Lumi re films produced in Japan as a negotiation between French Orientalism and Japanese aesthetics. The Lumi re films, Miyao shows, are best understood within a media ecology of photography, painting, and cinema, all indebted to the compositional principles of Japonisme and the new ideas of kinetic realism it inspired. The Lumi re brothers and their cinematographers shared the contemporaneous obsession among Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists about how to instantly and physically capture the movements of living things in the world. Their engagement with Japonisme, he concludes, constituted a rich and productive two-way conversation between East and West.
About the Author
Daisuke Miyao is Professor and Hajime Mori Chair in Japanese Language and Literature at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of The Aesthetics of Shadow: Lightingand Japanese Cinema and Sessue Hayakawa: Silent Cinema and Transnational Stardom, both also published by Duke University Press, and Cinema Is a Cat: A Cat Lover's Introduction to Film Studies.