03 June 2015

Everything Visible: Japanese Indie Animated Shorts

Sunday, June 7th, 2015

17:15, Naxoshalle Kino, Frankfurt am Main

Nippon Connection asked me to curate a selection of animated shorts for this year’s festival.  We are delighted that Yuki Hayashi, director of the animated music video Fragments of Journey for the band moskitoo will be able to attend the screening.

The title of this programme is an allusion to experimental artist Toshio Matsumoto’s famous 1975 work “Everything Visible in Empty” which itself was inspired by an old Chinese saying.  Visual media has become an inescapable part of our daily lives and it is increasingly difficult for artists to stand out among the crowd.  This programme features recent works by independent artists who are cultivating their own distinct visions through their art.  

The artists come from a range of backgrounds from across Japan.  There are a number of different styles represented including stop motion, hand drawn, and CG animation.  Many of these artists, such as the Oscar-winning animator Kunio Kato and his Robot Inc. colleague Osamu Sakai, have already established themselves at international festivals, while others (Makiko SukiharaYukie Nakauchi) are young artists who are just starting out. 

Dino Sato studied architecture and brings an interesting structural perspective to his work.   Osaka based animators Makiko Sukihara and Kohei Matsumura blend scientific observation with artistic impression in their 12 layer hand drawn study of the life of crows.  Similarly, Masahiro Ohsuka takes a scientific approach to his work, investigating the relationship between nature and machines and the abstract and the concrete. 

In contrast, artists like Masamu Hashimoto take a more playful approach to animation transforming everyday objects into objects of wonder using traditional stop motion techniques.  Masanobu Hiraoka’s beautifully colour-blocked works present a riveting kaleidoscopic perspective of life.   

Yoshinao Sato’s Newspaper is the English language version of his film Papers.  Both films present mesmeric montages of newspapers (the English version includes The Japan Times, USA Today, and the International Herald Tribune) in a kind of a tribute to the paper format of a medium that most people these days are digesting via digital means. 

The final film of the program is Dark Mixer by Hirotoshi Iwasaki.  It won the HAFF Grand Prix for Best Non-Narrative Short in March.  Iwasaki has a master’s degree in Contemporary Arts from Geidai and is currently working on his doctorate there.  Dark Mixer was inspired by the connections he sees between alchemy and rotoscope animation.  He writes: “The idea behind the title is to take everyday things and dump them into the mixer/blender to create something that is unfamiliar to us. It may lead us to look at everyday life in a different way” (source).

This is a programme full of contrasts that challenges us to think about our relationship to the world around us in all its diverse aspects. 

Many thanks to Martin Yougle for his assistance in organising this event.

While the Crow Weeps / カラスの涙 
Makiko Sukikara and Kōhei Matsumura / 鋤柄真希子 & 松村康平, 2013, 7’41”
The Osaka-based animation team of Makiko Sukikara (director/animator) and Kōhei Matsumura (screenwriter/producer) are young artists to watch.  Filmed on a multi-plane animation table, this beautifully painted film depicts the natural world in all its beauty and savageness.  The film won a New Face Award for animation at the Japan Media Arts Festival 2013.  Read Full Review

Celebration and Chorale / 祝典とコラール
Yukie Nakauchi /中内友紀恵, 2013, 5’10”
A beautiful visual interpretation of Niel De Ponte's percussion sextet "Celebration and Chorale".   

Shinsaku Hidaka / ひだかしんさく, 2013, 13’
"A man visits his wife in hospital, and goes on a mental journey … a journey through space and time, involving much climbing, sudden death syndrome and a body swap." — Tony Rayns

Digital / デジタル
Osamu Sakai / 坂井治, 2013, 5’10”
A riveting montage of hand drawn geometric shapes.

Scenes / 情景
Kunio Katō / 加藤久仁生, 2012, 8’

Rhizome /リゾーム
Masahiro Ohsuka / 大須賀政裕, 2014, 5’54”

Fireworks * Beads
Masamu Hashimoto / はしもと・まさむ, 2013, 3’09”
- there is a contact form on his website

Land / ランド
Masanobu Hiraoka / 平岡政展, 2013, 3’30”
Masanobu Hiraoka’s animated shorts play with colour-blocking and metamorphosis.  Watching his films is like peering into a kaleidoscope.  His short, Land, with music and sound design by Aimar Molero, was a Vimeo Staff Pick.

The Sexual Fish – The Fish that Forgot to Breed /性的な魚-繁殖を忘れた魚達
Dino Satō / サトウ・ダイノ, 2014, 2’00”
 Six amusing animated vignettes speculating on the sexuality of fish.  Each scene is placed in a row of what look like a cross between stained glass windows and test tubes.

Fragments of Journey
Yuki Hayashi/ 林勇気, 2014, 4’
Music video for the singer Moskitoo

Yoshinao Satoh / 義尚佐藤, 2013, 7’

Dark Mixer
Hirotoshi Iwasaki / 岩崎宏俊, 2014, 4’55

Cathy Munroe Hotes 2015