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Visual Fatigue and Bodily Flourishing: The Affective Politics of Around-the-Island Journeys in Taiwanese Visual Culture

Sat, June 25, 5:00 to 6:50pm, Shikokan (SK), Floor: 1F, 107


This study investigates the geopolitical turns of Taiwan during the post martial-law period, exploring how the new modality of feelings connotes different political declarations and epistemological paradigms of the island from those in the past through the lens of around-the-island journey. The fetish of these around-the-island trips arose in the 2000s in Taiwan, not only as a repetitive theme in films, but also in physical practice. However, this emerging culture is not unprecedented. Although the around-the-island trip was nearly absent during most of the martial-law period (1949-1987), it has already been exercised during the Japanese colonial period (1895-1945). For instance, through the visual representations, such as postcard illustrations sketched during the painter Hatsusaburo Yoshida’s around-the-island trip, he reconstructed Taiwanese landscapes by wedging their wildness into the implicit beauty of Japanese landscapes. Later, at the beginning of the martial-law period, the around-the-island trip was visualized as a fantasized journey rather than a pragmatic travel scheme to the audience. However, during the Taiwan New Cinema period (1982-1987), the perceptions of landscapes in the films transited into an experimental stage where optical, penetrating, and dominant cinematic narratives were interrogated and challenged, indicating an attempt to engage bodies to FEEL the landscapes. Examining the patterns of emergence, disappearance, and re-emergence of the around-the-island trips in Taiwan, this paper discusses how recent representations of journeys redefine the geography that was codified by optical paradigms in history, and how circular itineraries were differently deployed and embodied alongside the changing political regimes and social spheres.