Twice hypervisual: Expanding on North American and Western European critiques of the Visual via Azuma Hiroki’s theory of postmodern hypervisuality

Dylan Hallingstad O'Brien


In this article, I contend that attending to the intersections of embodiment and cultural experience is especially fruitful in considering Azuma Hiroki’s postulation of hypervisuality. Putting hypervisuality into dialogue with North American and Western European work on the visual, and senses more broadly, I argue, offers a chance to see how the culturally and historically contextual privileging of sight and processes of representation coincide to help produce a modality of narrative engagement that conflates an individual’s singular reading with the potentiality for such a reading’s universal experience.

While Azuma Hiroki’s Dōbutsuka suru posutomodan: otaku kara mita nihon shakai (2001) has often been considered in Anglophone reception as a work examining a specific Japanese subculture, I turn in this article to his theory of the ‘hypervisual,’ and place it into relation with work on the cultural contours of the visual. Herein, I place such an idea of hypervisuality in relation work that is critical of North American and Western European cultural elevation of the visual as the most valued sense and preeminent way of knowing. Together, I hold, these bodies of work push us further towards an understanding of processes of interpretation and narrative engagement in the present.


Hypervisuality; Cultural Theory; Embodiment; Consumption

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Mutual Images Journal by Mutual Images Research Association is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.