University of Minnesota Press”Reading the air” (judging the atmosphere of a situation) is considered a crucial social skill in Japan. Paul Roquet’s dense work on ambient media invites the reader to analyze the air of the modern city and its media in a new way.

Roquet guides his reader to close readings of key works of “ambient” (mood-regulating) media through sensual descriptions of experiences in contemporary spaces, often in urban Tokyo. Those analyses of the air Tokyoites move through and “read” subconsciously are compelling, and gently usher in his more theory-heavy investigations. Roquet offers a concrete cultural and technological context for anyone curious about the dominance in contemporary Japan of “ambient” creators like Haruki Murakami and Ryuichi Sakamoto, or of the “brand-less” brand Muji.

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