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The Interface Affect of a Contact Zone: Danmaku on Video-Streaming Platforms

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image of Asiascape: Digital Asia

This essay interrogates the transmedial, transnational expansion of platforms by analyzing the mediation functions and affective experiences of a discursive interface, danmaku. It is a unique interface design originally featured by the Japanese video-sharing platform Niconico to render user comments flying over videos on screen. The danmaku interface has been widely adopted in China by video-streaming websites, social media, and theatrical film exhibitions. Examining the fundamental incoherence that is structured by the interface – the incoherence between content and platform, between the temporal experiences of pseudo-live-ness and spectral past – the paper underlines the notion of ‘contact’ as the central logic of platforms and argues that danmaku functions as a volatile contact zone among conflicting modes, logics, and structures of digital media. Such contested contacts generate affective intensity of media regionalism, in which the transmedial/transnational processes managed by platforms in material/textual traffic are mapped by the flow of affect on the interface.

Affiliations: 1: Assistant professor of Film Studies in the English Department, University of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania


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