The walls of video rental shops in Japan are lined with hundreds upon hundreds of animation DVDs, but experimental and art animation on DVD are rare. To remedy this situation, Image Forum put together this showcase of the work of contemporary avant-garde animators trained in Kyoto and Tokyo. Image Forum has been the centre for the creation, exhibition, and distribution of alternative film in Tokyo for over twenty-five years. In the early days, it was known as the Underground Center but renamed itself in 1977 when they established the Institute for Moving Images, where they train students in experimental film and art animation techniques.
Released in 2005, Thinking and Drawing features a wide selection of animation styles from line drawing to CGI manipulated photographs. The subject matter ranges from feminist allegory to ghostly tales. Although each film has a short running time of between 5 and 17 minutes, the depth of meaning in each is truly astonishing. The films have shown together and separately at festivals in Europe, North America, and Australia.
Along with Tabaimo (Ayako Tabata), Maho Shimao and Atsuko Udo, Mika Seike represents a growing number of women in experimental film. Seike's films are instantly recognizable by their signature monotone backgrounds and human figures. The shades of black and white vary in texture, sometimes giving one the impression of old newsprint, while at other times having the texture of birch-bark or handmade paper. When accompanied by the sound of electronic feedback it reminded me of the static on a disconnected television.
Continue reading my review of Thinking and Drawing at Midnight Eye!.
© Catherine Munroe Hotes 2007