Private and public protocols organize and define society and our lives. They generate a set of regulations that exercise a sustained influence over our private as well as over our public behavior. Rituals, conventions, rules – protocols cover a variety of procedures and, in one way or another, they attempt to use, define, control or exercise power.
Asia is a powerful imaginaire. The result of different civilizations, most of which are founded on that of ancient China, that are known yet not always understood by Western culture. This imaginaire embraces all kinds of elements and cultural traditions (music, dance, architecture, food, illustrations, and calligraphy), politics and religions. From the eighteenth century to date, this imaginaire has been narrated and ‘translated’ by fascinated travelers who have helped us shape an idea of remote civilizations through Orientalism and Exoticism, despite their romantic interpretations and limitations.
I am an outsider aware of these circumstances. I am curious about the similarities and differences between three of Asia’s main countries: China, South Korea and Japan. I am no specialist and I don’t speak any of the three languages, but I am interested in relating images to codes that may or may not be understood as forming part of the stereotypes, and in reflecting the point of view of the outsider. -Antoni Muntadas