Japanese video, animation and experimental film presenting different aspect of the Tokyo metropolis in the beginning of XXI century, selected by Koyo Yamashita, the Programming Director of the Image Forum Festival in Tokyo.
Tokyo has been destroyed several times since its modernization since the late 19th century. The early modern concrete buildings were flattened in the great earthquake in 1923. Then it was burnt down to ashes by severe bombings by the US in 1945. The rapid economic growth during the postwar period in the 60s wiped out the old neighborhood and created modern metropolis Tokyo. And the super-inflation of the economy in the 80s and its sudden burst also made a deep effect on its cityscape. Then another earthquake and the succeeding nuclear disaster in 2011 which is still being unsolved and difficult to see the consequences. We do not know how Tokyo looked like 50 years ago since he cityscape has changed completely. But what is the idea beneath this contemporary, super-modern, ever-changing cityscape? Are we now totally free from the ghosts of the past? Or are we in an endless dream, dreaming the same dream for 100 years?
Akira MIYANAGA’s WAVY, is indeed waves of cityscapes which come and go like waves, always changing shapes and dissolves to different images. If you notice that the film is made after 2011, the year of the great Tsunami and the nuclear disaster in Tohoku, you might find a reason why these cities look so fragile and drifty. It reminds us of the bubbles which emerge and vanish in the river referred by Kamo-no Chomei, a main figure of recluse literature in medieval Japan who became a hermit after earthquakes and disasters in Kyoto.
Starting from a famous text “Beneath the cherry trees corpse are buried” by a famous poet from the 1920’s, Motojiro KAJII, Isamu HIRABAYASHI’s TEXTISM plays with the layers of the narratives accumulated in the history. HIRABAYASHI implies how we are bound to and can’t be freed from written text and history with dry humor. Even the dead can’t be free from text in TEXTISM. The metaphor becomes even darker if you notice that the cherry blossom is often used as symbol of a pure Japanese spirit.
The coal mining of Hajima island (now it is nicked named as Gunkanjima, battleship island from its look) surely played an important role in the growth of Japanese economy during the early 20th century. Mikio OKADA’s hierophanie celebrates a mysterious ritual on this island which is now a complete ruin after it was abandoned in the 1970s. Through its ritual, the island looks as if it is haunted by ghosts wandering around dreaming in the island’s glorious days of its industrial peak. The island is submitted for the UNESCO World Heritage by the Japanese government although it was strongly contested by the Korean government claiming that the island mines employed the forced laborers of Korea and China during WWII.
The films are shown chronologically by the year of production in the program Behind the walls trying to make a spot on the year 2011, year of the earthquake and nuclear disaster.
Curator: Koyo Yamashita
Mikio Okada, hierophanie, 2002
Isamu Hirabayashi, Textism, 2003
Kazuhiro Goshima, Z Reactor, 2011
Isamu Hirabayashi, 663114, 2011
Shigeo Arikawa, It Has Already Been Ended Before You See the End, 2012
Shunsuke Hasegawa, Vanishing Circuit, 2014
Rieko Ouchi, Reply; Repeat Repeated; Delete; Favorite Favorited, 2014
Akira Miyanaga, WAVY, 2014
ARTISTS & WORKS
Mikio Okado, hierophanie, 2002, 9:00
The island of Gunkanjima is completely abandoned. Buildings once lit with fires and lights of daily life have turned into concrete gravestones. One night, a sudden spark illuminates each room one by one. The filmmaker records this almost ceremonial happening with fixed camera, then uses digital effects to match the luminous fluxes in this requiem for the unknown building. The title means “secret ceremony”.
Mikio Okado (born 1979 in Tokyo), a graduate of Image Forum Institute of Moving Image, Tokyo University of the Arts. Has won several festival awards with Hierophanie.
Isamu Hirabayashi, Textism, 2003, 11:00
“Under a cherry tree, there’s always a corpse…” After a literary opening featuring this quote from Motojiro Kajii, poet from the early 20th century, and the image of a giant, bifurcated tree, Textism suddenly changes key and a work full of wry humor emerges. Three stories, each somewhat aloof in tone, are told using subtitles and computer generated synthetic sounds. With its effective presentation of images, this artists “memento mori” compels us also “memento moji” (“text” in Japanese).
Isamu Hirabayashi (born in 1972 in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan) after graduating from Musashino Art University, he became a graphic designer at an advertising production company. He then left this job and became a freelance film director. He has worked on the production of numerous commercials in Japan. While working on these commercials he set out to produce experimental films. His works include: BABIN (2006), ARAMAKI (2009), NINJA AND SOLDIER (2012).
Kazuhiro Goshima, Z Reactor, 2011, 11:00
A photographic exploration of a Japanese metropolis with atmospheric night shots, deserted streets and crowded subway stations. Minimal shifts in the image and abrupt accelerations create a parallel reality.
Kazuhiro Goshima (born 1969) engages himself in creative work on the themes of taking apart sensation and border between analog and digital. Has won many international awards. Including 3D film Shadowland (2013) which won the Award of Distinction in Ars Electronica.
Isamu Hirabayashi, 663114, 2011, 8:00
A strong, straight comment with full of wit on the nuclear incident which happened after the tsunami in March 2011. Hirabayashi made this animation film in a way no other filmmaker in Japan dared or were able to make.
Shigeo Arikawa, It Has Already Been Ended Before You See The End, 2012, 11:00
A window in close up, steadily slides open. The viewpoint, light and screen gradually alter as they go through parallel movements. Stillness in movement. Beginnings in an ending. The miniscule vibration of senses swells in the stillness of time. What is the “end”? Is it wrong to read any message here?
Shigeo Arikawa (born in 1982 in Tokyo) lives in Amsterdam. He is a graduate of University of the Arts in Tokyo, his film Her Ironical Me (2008) won an award at the Image Forum Festival.
Shunsuke Hasegawa, Vanishing Circuit, 2014, 13:00
A man who watches human behavior from outside of a body is connected to a woman with a different consciousness inside the body via a “circuit.” Their monologue inhabits a monochrome everyday, and becomes an impersonal “perspective” looking out at the world. Half a century has passed since Chris Marker’s La Jetée a film made from still photographs, and digital masking effects have given birth to a strange world of intermingled moving and still images.
Shunsuke Hasegawa (born in Tokyo in 1989). Entered Musashino Art University after graduating from Kawaguchi Art School of Waseda University. Studies moving images with a focus on cinema. Vanishing Circuit has been officially selected in Karlovy Vary Film Festival 2015.
Rieko Ouchi, Reply; Repeat Repeated; Delete; Favorite Favorited, 2014, 3:00
Squalid advertising images are displayed in the back alleys of a city. We forget even our disgust and feel only a vague irritation. In the same way, junk emails and banners stretched end-to-end across websites are like the bill-boarded roadsides of the Internet. This is an animated work done by a young female director skillfully illustrates this irritation over its 5 minute running time. A comment on the Internet landscape with a gender perspective.
Rieko Ouchi (born in 1990 in Hokkaidō Prefecture) studies filmmaking at Hokkaido University of Education’s Graduate School while continuing to create mainly animated works. Major works include Ed Adam And Lewdness Eve, Breath Of Sound and Curtain Curtain Curtain.
Akira Miyanaga, Wavy, 2014, 10:00
“The reason of an English title was used is that this word WAVY was needed to suggest the signs of the spread of modernization and universalization that have become etched on the underside of the familiar Japanese landscape.” – Akira Miyanaga.
Akira Miyanaga (born in 1985 in Hokkaido) currently resides in Kyoto. Graduate of Kyoto City University of the Arts Graduate School. Was a Kyoto City Art and Culture Special Encouragement recipient in 2011. Creates video and installation works mainly in the field of modern art using superimposition techniques on live action footage shot with a video camera. Following his graduation work Wondjina (09) he has created numerous other video and installation works including About The Lights Of Land (10) and Kiwa (13).