Paul Roquet is assistant professor of Japanese studies at MIT, following doctoral study at UC Berkeley and time spent as a postdoctoral researcher at Brown. His research, as exemplified in this fine monograph, explores the use of media as a form of mood regulation, with case studies taken from music, video art, film, and literature. In Ambient Media, Roquet presents an examination of how ambiance was used in post-1970s Japan to create a culture of security and well-being, creating a nationalist aesthetic that was to become central to a gradually emerging industry of Japanese physical therapy.

The book’s first half presents a politicized reading of these aesthetic concerns. We are introduced to the concept of ambient subjectivation, grounded in the theories of Martin Heidegger and Michel Foucault (specifically Foucault’s notions of techniques of the self and governmentality), to investigate how the neoliberal self...

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