Seeing is Knowing: Visual Perception, Painting, and Cityscapes in Mid-Eighteenth Century Japan


LAC Burkhardt


Art and Art History


For residence at the Asian Studies Program at the University of Hawai'i, Manoa during academic year 2016-2017


How did technology change the way the Japanese perceived and conceptualized their surroundings in the mid-eighteenth century? And, how did this technology facilitate an awareness of the perceptual process? Through a systematic investigation of key paintings and texts, this project addresses these questions, exploring the role visual technologies and nascent consciousness of the act of seeing played in the refashioning of Kyoto cityscapes. “Seeing is Knowing” argues that not only was this engagement with visual perception symptomatic of mid-eighteenth century Japan's emergent "modernity," but also, more significantly, it suggests the leading role of Kyoto in the push towards that "modernity."