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Japanese Experimental Animation: Ko Nakajima, Keiichi Tanaami, and Nobuhiro A


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Japanese Experimental Animation: Ko Nakajima, Keiichi Tanaami, and Nobuhiro A

  • Lightbox Film Center 3701 Chestnut Street Philadelphia, PA, 19104 United States (map)

August 9, 2018 at Lightbox Film Center

Japanese Experimental Animation: Ko Nakajima, Keiichi Tanaami, and Nobuhiro Aihara

Ko Nakajima, Anapoko, 1963, 16mm transferred to video, 8:38 min.
Ko Nakajima, Seizoki, 1964, 16mm transferred to video, 4:10 min.
Keiichi Tanaami, Marionettes in Masks, 1966, 35mm transferred to video, 8 min.
Keiichi Tanaami, 4 EYES, 1975, 16mm transferred to video, 9 min.
Nobuhiro Aihara, Rhabdophis Tigrinus, 1972, 16mm transferred to video, 5min
Nobuhiro Aihara, Honeybee Season Has Passed, 1972, 16mm transferred to video, 8min
Nobuhiro Aihara, Stone, 1975, 16mm transferred to video, 8min.
Nobuhiro Aihara, Karma, 1977, 16mm transferred to video, 3min.

Joined by the subject of experimental animation, the three Japanese artists/filmmakers and their works are linked with one another through the artists' serendipitous encounters, interest in animation, collaboration, and more recently, preservation initiatives. This program touches upon intersecting histories, while showcasing recent preservation efforts by Collaborative Cataloging Japan (of works by Ko Nakajima and Keiichi Tanaami) and CCJ's sister organization in Japan, Postwar Japan Moving Image Archive (of works by Nobuhiro Aihara).

Sogetsu Art Center’s Animation Festivals in the early 1960s was a hub for experimentalism in animation. Having the intention of submitting a work to the Sogetsu Animation Film Festival but without the necessary funds to make proper animation, Ko Nakajima invented a method called “kaki-animation” (writing-animation) in which he drew directly onto a 35mm film. Both Anapoko and Seizoki used this method, and Seizoki was presented between the featured animations at the Sogetsu Animation Festival in 1964.

It was at these Animation Festivals at Sogetsu Art Center that Keiichi Tanaami first met Nobuhiro Aihara and much later in the 2000, Tanaami and Aihara collaborated on making experimental animation works. Tanaami Keiichi, while working as a commercial graphic designer, experimented with making animation and presented Marionettes in Masks (1966) at the Sogetsu Art Center. Nobuhiro Aihara also made experimental works on the side while working at Studio Zero—the formative mainstream animation / cartoon production company of the period with members Shinichi Suzuki, Jiro Tsunoda, Fujiko Fujio, and others. While visiting Studio Zero, Ko Nakajima first met Nobuhiro Aihara.

In February 2018, CCJ conducted surveys of Nakajima and Tanaami’s collections, led by archivists Peter Oleksik and John Klacsmann. In time for this screening, CCJ is newly digitizing Nakajima's Anapoko and Seizoki, for which the archival files will be deposited to archival institutions.

In 2016-2017, Hirofumi Sakamoto, director of Postwar Japan Moving Image Archive digitized the works of Nobuhiro Aihara. (The digitization of these materials was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 15K02184.) This screening program highlights the two organizations’ efforts to study and preserve Japanese experimental moving image works.

This program is organized in collaboration with Julian Ross and Hirofumi Sakamoto. 

Image: Artist Ko Nakajima working on the digitization with staff of laboratory TOKYO KO-ON. Photo by Kaz Kuyama. 

This screening is supported in part by a generous grant from the Philadelphia Cultural Fund and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Preserving Diverse Cultures program.