Ambient Media: Japanese Atmospheres of Self by Paul Roquet

By Paul Roquet

Ambient Media examines song, video artwork, movie, and literature as instruments of atmospheric layout in modern Japan, and what it ability to exploit media as a source for private temper rules. Paul Roquet strains the emergence of ambient kinds from the environmental tune and Erik Satie growth of the Sixties and Seventies to the newer healing emphasis on therapeutic and relaxation.

Focusing on how an environment works to reshape these residing inside of it, Roquet exhibits how ambient aesthetics gives you affordances for reflective go with the flow, rhythmic attunement, embodied safety, and concrete coexistence. Musicians, video artists, filmmakers, and novelists in Japan have elevated on Brian Eno’s concept of the ambient as a method producing “calm, and an area to think,” exploring what it ability to domesticate an ambivalent tranquility set opposed to the doubtful horizons of an ever-shifting social panorama. delivering a brand new manner of figuring out the emphasis on “reading the air” in jap tradition, Ambient Media records either the adaptive and the alarming aspects of the expanding deployment of mediated moods.

Arguing opposed to opinions of temper law that see it basically as a sort of social pacification, Roquet makes a case for knowing ambient media as a neoliberal reaction to older modes of collective attunement—one that allows the oblique shaping of social habit whereas additionally permitting participants to believe like they're those eventually in control.


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These more individually tailored backgrounds appear in a sequel to Environmental Music published in 1992, featuring new contributions from Japanese sound researchers from across the country. In the book’s introduction, psychologist Osaka Ryōji notes how background music has gone from being a rather obscure idea in Japan when the book was first published in 1966 to something almost entirely taken for granted in the 1990s. The book provides a long list of the various objectives driving the deployment of background music over the intervening decades.

As the next chapter explores, the Japanese ambient music of the following decades followed Satie and Eno in seeking to sculpt sound as a spatial object. The emerging ambient composers smoothed sonic contours by stretching out attack and decay. They avoided hard edges in favor of gradual transitions between different background layers. They implied vast open spaces through lush echo, reverb, and delay effects. They worked toward a mood of calm uncertainty by basing drones around the fifth of a chord rather than the tonic or by keeping tonality consonant but always slightly ambiguous or by repeating a basic pattern in constantly shifting permutations.

53 The first Sony Walkman came on the market just months after Music for Airports, setting off a radical transformation in the experience of recorded music. By the 1980s recorded music was no longer tethered to living rooms and bulky stereos but could be carried on a person’s body as they made their way through the city. People could now wrap their ears with their chosen audio accompaniment and quickly learned how different music might influence their movement through public space. ”54 Ambient music and the new portable audio technology made an excellent pair.

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