Wandering Dolls: Cosplay Journey Across East Asia

So my new book just came out and was published by the Hong Kong publisher Roundtable Synergy Books. The book is in both English and Chinese (left page vs. right page) and was translated entirely by Yang Jing. It is a book of travels to four different cities in “East Asia” (the big land mass covering Japan, China, HK, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore…. and what not), where I search for animation fans who dress up as “characters”, and adult fans of Japanese or Korean dolls.

It became a first-person travelogue essay with many photos, interspersed with interviews with Cosplayers and queer or queer-ish personalities. I say queer-ish because people develop deep attractions for animation and games culture through funky alter egos, yet they often have very “normal” aspirations in their actual lives. Especially so since it is not easy to be alt, kinky, or extravagant in the East Asian region.

It was a real pleasure to work together with Gary Wong, Miu Chan and Peter Kong of Roundtable Synergy books, who are at the young and visionary vanguard of Hong Kong critical writing and independent political thought. Peter Kong also did a marvelous design job and came up with the idea of the costumed girl with (my) wandering doll. It is always a strange and special feeling when the book is out. I like its experimental nature and aesthetic pretensions. It shows who I am trying to be–as indicated by Prof. Eric Ma and Prof. Travis Kong–“palpable,” “infectuous,””on the edge of academia’ and yes  “queer.”  The queer-ish mosquito that zaps by and stings into unsuspecting flesh.


Thoughts and Shivers re:Sex Robots

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I enjoyed reading Louise Bak’s interview with Michael Sullivan for Toro magazine. I also mentioned his work in my last column for Neural. His work looks like a sweet miniature version of the Sadean spectacle. For instance, a female robot sits in front of her computer and has twin babies on her lap. Each of the babies is sucking one of her breasts while she scans the porn web. Sullivan explains the childish-creative impulse behind the robotic invention in Wired:“Making the movie is just like playing with dolls or playing with action figures.”Unless we can return to this infantile habit to play with inanimate objects, our post-human lovers will be lacking in aura and warmth.”