The Future is Asian

Poster_Spring2008

This next theme for this blog’s Film Architecture series is “The Future is Asian,” and will review a selection of films from various East Asian countries in an exploration of the cinematic products of a region of the world experiencing rapid economic and cultural change. Cities are being designed, developed and built at a heretofore unprecedented size and scale in Asia; it is a scale of architecture and planning for which we have as yet no theories. It is the missing XXL in Rem’s compendium of scales; it is the asymptotic limit to which no European dogma has a response. Right now, we have no criteria or ideas by which to judge, critique, or evaluate what is going on in the East. To put it academically, nobody knows what to say about Asia.

This selection of films, then, will attempt to survey the culture-scape of certain East Asia countries through their films—a contemporary medium which traffics their images, projections, fears, ideas, and narratives. Certain cinematic themes and tendencies are starting to emerge from Asian films which are having a broader impact upon the world than the previous generation of Asian films. Akira Kurosawa, for instance, was critically canonized but never really broadly imitated here in America; whereas 2007’s Academy Award for Best Picture went to an Asian film remade by Martin Scorsese (The Departed was a direct remake of Hong Kong filmmaker Andy Lau’s Infernal Affairs), and the current spate of horror and suspense films such as The Ring, The Grudge, One Missed Call, the Saw or the Hostel series are all either directly influenced by or literal remakes of Asian films. Accordingly, one focus of this semester’s theme will be on what has been loosely dubbed “Asian Extreme” films. These are films that have a level of violence—emotional, physical, sexual, or otherwise—which has surpassed anything imagined anywhere else. To anyone who has experienced the machinic orderliness of Tokyo to the “anything-goes” atmosphere of Seoul, these are the cultures which have been exporting the ideas and imagination that shapes the way the cities of tomorrow will be materialized. As architects, our responsibility is to shape the future of the built environment with our ideas, our skills, and our judgment. As such, it’s important that we give more than a passing glance towards Asia. The past is European. The future is Asian.

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8 Responses to “The Future is Asian”

  1. The Gugger | no ideas but in things Says:

    [...] Guggenheim Museum in New York City that is sort of related to my current Film Architecture theme, The Future is Asian. It is called “The Third Mind: American Artist Contemplate Asia,” and the [...]

  2. Momofuku Ko | no ideas but in things Says:

    [...] food at Momofuku. In this way, it is tangentially related to my Film Architecture theme, “The Future is Asian.” The Momofuku restaurants are a phenomenon that seems an uncannily prescient sign of the [...]

  3. New York Asian Film Festival | no ideas but in things Says:

    [...] I’m woefully delinquent in posting ongoing reviews for my current theme, “The Future is Asian,” this festival is a great event for what is turning out to be a monsoon season for New York [...]

  4. It cuts both ways. . . | no ideas but in things Says:

    [...] Zhang Yi Mou’s To Live (1994), which I will review in a following post as part of my ongoing “The Future is Asian” film architecture [...]

  5. In the Heat of the Sun | no ideas but in things Says:

    [...] the first half of “The Future is Asian” theme drew heavily from the genre of “Asian Extreme” films, the rest of the films I will [...]

  6. Chungking Express | no ideas but in things Says:

    [...] region that produces a disproportionately large share of movies. For the remaining two films of the The Future is Asian series, I’ve chosen to discuss two films by one Hong Kong director, Wong Kar-wai. This is a [...]

  7. Visitor Q | no ideas but in things Says:

    [...] a few of the films selected for this “Future is Asian” series were intended to emphasize the current spate of extremely shocking, disturbing, and [...]

  8. In the Mood for Love | no ideas but in things Says:

    [...] marks the end of the series of films I began discussing under the theme of “The Future is Asian.” The next theme I will blog about will be “American [...]

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