SOAS University of London

Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

CANCELLED: Air Art, Expanded Cinema and Intermedia in 1960s Japan

Julian Ross, Research Fellow, Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM), University of Westminster

Date: 13 March 2018Time: 5:15 PM

Finishes: 13 March 2018Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B211

Type of Event: Seminar


Jointly organised with the East Asian Art and Archaeology Research Seminar

In his essay to accompany his first experiment in off-screen film projection, Japanese filmmaker Iimura Takahiko wrote ‘… in the future, we may even see projections onto spherical screens’ (1963: 10). Not only was his vision realized in his own performances Circle (1968-69) and Floating (1970), projections onto balloons and inflated objects also became a frequent feature in 1960s Japanese contemporary art. In part, the rise in pneumatic sculpture was inspired by its increasing popularity in the United States, briefly categorised as ‘air art’ in the mid-1960s by curator Willoughby Sharp; on the other hand, it also marked a period of collaboration between culture and local industry in the run-up to the Osaka Expo of 1970, the first world exposition in Asia, all the while echoing wartime military developments in the production of hot air balloons as carriers of bombs. For Japanese experimental filmmakers and artists working with moving image, balloons offered an alternative to the rigidity of the cinema screen and gallery space that they sought to overcome through expanded cinema.

This presentation will explore how the interaction between air art and expanded cinema materialised Japan’s understanding of intermedia arts (intāmedia). Entering the discourse of Japanese art criticism as early as 1966, the term ‘intermedia’ established a theoretical platform upon which the inter-relations between different media as well as space and audience were reevaluated. Discussing inflatable artworks by Onishi Seiji and Isobe Yukihisa, and specifically their uses in collaborations with filmmakers Iimura Takahiko, Matsumoto Toshio, Shuzo Azuchi Gulliver and Jud Yalkut, this presentation will consider how projections onto balloons revealed the porosity between film and other artistic media.

About the Speaker:

Julian Ross is a Research Fellow on a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at the Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media, University of Westminster. He holds a PhD at the University of Leeds on 1960s Japanese expanded cinema, a topic on which has led to curatorial projects presented at Tate Modern, Art Institute of Chicago, Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, Eye Film Institute, International Film Festival Rotterdam and BOZAR, Centre for Fine Arts. He is a core researcher for the Japanese Expanded Cinema Research project, initiated by Collaborative Cataloging Japan and supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation Grant, which involves the study and preservation of Japanese expanded cinema. His recent publications include: ‘Hijikata Tatsumi, Performance Documentation and Japanese Experimental Film’ in A Companion to Experimental Film (ed. Federico Windhausen, forthcoming); ‘Explorer of Boundaries: 1960-70s Japanese Expanded Cinema’ in Japanese Expanded Cinema Revisited, Exh. Cat. (ed. Tasaka Hiroko, 2017); and ‘Curating Problems for Expanded Cinema’ in Preservation, Radicalism and the Avant-Garde (eds. R. Ferreboeuf, F. Noble and T. Plunkett, 2016). He is a Programmer at International Film Festival Rotterdam where he researches Asian artist film and video as well as feature films from Japan and the Philippines.

Organiser: Contemporary Arts Research Seminar and the East Asian Art and Archaeology Research Seminar

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