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5 October 2010: Seeing/Hearing/Speaking: The Films of Takahiko Iimura + Live Performance


This programme is a survey of the work of Japan's most influential experimental filmmaker, Takahiko Iimura, from his earliest 1960s experiments and conceptual videos to his later videos on semiology and identity. Takahiko Iimura will perform Circle and Square and be in attendance for Q&A moderated by Julian Ross.

"Taka Iimura has been making films since the early 1960s. His work has gone through a series of relatively clear, consistent developments: from 1962 to 1968, Iimura was largely involved with surreal imagery, with eroticism, and with social criticism; from 1968 through 1971, he continued to use photographic imagery, but worked with it in increasingly formal ways; from 1972 until 1978, he devoted himself very largely to a series of minimalist explorations of time and space. During the years since, Iimura has been more fully involved with video than with film." – Scott MacDonald

"Although Taka was and continues to be an active part of the New York avant-garde scene, he always remained an enigmatic, mysterious presence, pursuing his own unique route through the very center of the avant-garde cinema. While the intensity and the fire of the American avant-garde film movement inspired him and attracted him, his Japanese origins contributed decisively to his uncompromising explorations of cinema's minimalist and conceptualist possibilities. He has explored this direction of cinema in greater depth than anyone else." – Jonas Mekas

1. 60s Experiments

Junk, 1962, 10 min, B/W, 16 mm
On Eye Rape, 1962, 10 min, B/W, 16 mm
Film Strips I, 1966-70, 12 min, B/W, Digital

Junk is "a mixture of [dead]animals, pieces of [broken] furniture, industrial waste, kids playing. I didn't have in mind any of the kind of historical perspective, nor was I trying to make an ecological statement. I was showing the new landscape of our civilization. My point of view was animistic. I tried to revive those dead animals metaphorically and to give the junk new life." – Takahiko Iimura

On Eye Rape: "The original film was rescued from a Tokyo trash bin. It is an American sexual education film in which plant and animal sex are explained. I, together with an artist friend, Natsuyuki Nakanishi, punched big holes in almost all of the frames. It was a protest against Japanese censorship of explicit images of sex, particularly pubic hair which the censors would cover with black marks. I inserted a few subliminal frames of pornographic imagery from magazines several times throughout the film. At the end, I even punched holes in these subliminal pictures, thereby 'censoring' the censored image." – Takahiko Iimura

Film Strips I: "When I came to the USA in the mid 1960s, it was the high point of the Hippie movement and the black riots. I lived in the East village in New York, which was a center of the former, and watched TV news of the latter often. These two films, Film Strips I and II, were taken from the scenes respectively, not as a documentary but as an inner report of mine, abstracted yet chaotic." – Takahiko Iimura

2. Early Conceptual Videos

A Chair, 1970, 6 min, B/W, Digital
Blinking, 1970, 2 min, B/W, Digital
Time Tunnel, 1971, 5 min, B/W, Digital
Visual Logic (And Illogic), 1977, 8 min, B/W, Digital

"These videos are experiments in perception, and are very minimal in form consisting of a single object which requires a lot of attention. Visual Logic (And Illogic) shows visual logic (and illogic) of sign combining with limited movements of camera for panning and zooming. These early videos signify very early experiments of a particular 'conceptual video', that almost no other video artists had ever tried at that time." – Takahiko iimura

3. Seeing/Hearing/Speaking

Talking to Myself (Phenomenological Operation), 1978, 7 min, B/W, Digital
Talking in New York, 1981, 8 min, B/W, Digital
Talking Picture (The Structure of Film Viewing), 1981, 15 min, B/W, Digital

"Throughout these videos I have examined the validity of an identity in video, which is different from the actual voice, between 'the I who hear' and 'the I who speak'. It extends also to 'the I who see' and 'the I who is seen'." – Takahiko Iimura

"Talking to Myself seems almost preposterously ambitious; its beauty (I say this, of course, only on examining the script) seems to lie in a kind of vertigo, an infinitization of replications, mirroring, suspected detours, half-forgotten and neglected stops, arrests, reconfirmations and confusions. It surely is the strongest, most effective statement one could make from the work of Derrida." – David Allison

4. Circle and Square (Performance)

A loop of 16mm black film is suspended by two 100 feet spools on the ceiling and running through the projector. While the film is projected, Iimura continuously makes holes with a puncher onto it, creating a rhythm of white dots on the screen. When the film breaks, the performance ends.

Followed by Q&A with the artist

This programme will be followed by four other events taking place in London, Leeds and Bristol:

Wednesday 6 October - 7pm at and Takahiko Iimura present: How to Make Time Visible in Film (without photography)
More info at:

Thursday 7 October at Central St. Martin’s College of Art:
More info at:

Monday 11 October - 6.30pm at ICS Cinema, University of Leeds:
Cherry Kino and the University of Leeds present:
Japanese Experimental Cinema: An Evening with Takahiko Iimura
More info at:

Wednesday 13 October 2010 - 6pm at Arnolfini
Takahiko Iimura: On Time in Film – Discussion & Screenings
More info at:

More info: