Aural Gazing

Recent Japanese Audio Vision

Background

Aural Gazing is a programme of recent videos and/or music videos from Japan. Some are music-videos, others are video art shorts. The programme was commissioned by Experimenta director Liz Hughes.

Credits

Curator - Philip Brophy

2005

EXPERIMENTA - Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne

Overview

The Gaze seems to have become such a cinematic thing. Courtesy of psycho-analytic theory that peered backwards into Hollywood’s dark hall of mirrors, the gaze was perceived as a contemporary socialised being: gendered, politicised, mediarised, implicated. The Looker, the Looked and the Act of Looking became unnecessarily mandated by a reductivist ocular pursuit of meaning.

In Japanese media – not to mention art history – the imaging that depicts, reveals and enshrines the Gaze is of an entirely disconnected nature and culture. Two formal traits distinguish it from the Anglo-American ‘looking’. Firstly, the gaze is as much a statement about one’s location – one’s immersive, sensorial and psychological space – as it is about one’s perspective of things/people/spirits in that space. What is ‘seen’ is not a lack or impairment, but a refraction of one’s grounded perspective. Secondly, audio-visual aspects and issues are wholly incorporated in the articulation and presentation of such statements of space. What is ‘heard’ is heightened, modulated by and fused with the tactile substance of visual surfaces and forms.

Aural Gazing forwards a scoop of recent Japanese video art predicated on how audiovisuality is embedded in instances of gazing. By no means a definitive selection, Aural Gazing invites the audience to consider how music/image and location/sound are formed in a range of contemplative works. Collectively, they propose a holistic sense of ‘being enviromentalised’ through the act of depicting, rendering and sounding. No stories unfold here. In place, a series of synaesthetic reveries and overloads by solo and collaborative artists. From nuanced breaths of ambient effects to bombastic quakes of shuddering frequencies. From shimmering midday sun on a Spanish beach to algorithmic chaos released through processing Tokyo’s cityscape. Aural Gazing celebrates how ‘being somewhere’ – no matter how beautifully ‘natural’ or how hysterically ‘plastic’ – supersedes mere acts of looking.

Technical

Programme

1. Fonotiac “t-tter” 2005 6’00”
(Image - Haruma Kikuchi; Music - Takatoshi Fujino)

2. Hiraki Sawa “Dwelling” 2002 9’20
(Image & Sound - Hiraki Sawa)

3. Albireo “Ecliptic Clouds” 2004 6’45
(Image - Junji Koyanagi; Music - Masayuki Kodou)

4. Rosemary Dean “The Pining Tree” 2004 9’35
(Image - Aiko Asanuma; Animation - Tetsuro Shimauchi; Script - Rosemary Dean; Music - Philip Brophy; Sound - Jennifer Sochackyj)

5. RH + ST “Joy” 2005 10’00
(Image Shiro Takatani; Music Rei Harakami)

6. Kyupi Kyupi “Doktor Yamato” 2002 2’20”
7. Kyupi Kyupi “Buttocktica” 2002 2’45”
(Image & Music - Yoshimasa Ishibashi; Performers - Kimura Mazuka, Wakeshima Mami & Koichi Emura)

8. Saeko Takagi “The Colour of Empty Sky” 2005 7’00”
(Image Saeko Takagi; Animation Masakatsu Takagi; Music - UA)

Synopses

1. Fonotiac - “untitled”
As the Japanese urb becomes so congested one sees through its density to navigate one’s travels, “Untitled” reminds one of precisely how wonderfully foreboding that density is. Algorithmically distilled then expanded into a quasi-chaotic rush of architecture and musical fragments, the city is reconfigured into a sensorial maze. There might be buildings and flutes in there somewhere – but like the city itself, you’ll never know its true contents.

2. Hiraki Sawa - “Dwelling”
Japan’s isolationist history hangs heavy over those who desire to travel and escape Japan’s psychological borders. “Dwelling” portrays a non-space that equates the desire to travel with the de-zoned nothingness of airport lounges. Like thoughts unfurling into smoky curls of desire, jumbo jets lazily trace horizontal lines across the domestic space. In numbing concert with these visual reveries, the soft drone of planes engines lull one into dreaming simultaneously of leaving and returning.

3. Albireo - “Ecliptic Clouds”
“Untitled” is Tokyo’s ‘bustling metropolis’ as perceived via the commonplace suburban environment of backstreets, parks, sidewalks and overground train lines. Its night is devoid of people, creating an internal subjective view of repetitive journeys and aimless returns to the same architectural motifs and details. With camera-work seemingly propelled by the score’s frenetic harmonic patterning, the city becomes a shell of hurtling momentum and empty echoes.

4. Rosemary Dean - “The Pining Tree”
Evoking whispers of half-remembered folklore of those trapped by the dimensional borders of their surroundings, “The Pining Tree” narrates a haunting tale of moving over to the Other side. Interred in her solitary domicile, a woman seems fated to become one with the tree outside her apartment. It beckons her, entrances her, enraptures her. Her humming, tactile space seems pregnant, awaiting this transformation.

5. RH + ST - “Joy”
In the summer heat haze of a beautiful beach unimaginable in Japan, “Joy” jettisons us to Spain. Partially a Eurovision tourist dream, the beach is presented in multi-screen format evoking the traditional painted screens used to evoke the outside landscape within the home environment. The camera idly pans left and right, replicating the distracted gaze of one relaxing at the beach, while the score dances in organic complex swirls.

6. Kyupi Kyupi - “Doktor Yamato”
7. Kyupi Kyupi - “Buttocktica”
Moving from exterior landscaping to interiorised ‘mediascape’, “Doktor Yamato” and “Buttocktica” create phantom erotic spaces where feminized bodies merge robot and doll into figurines of unbridled desire. Bluntly soft-porn yet comfortable with their self-objectification, these mannequins of lust display their sexuality with icy precision. To a score simulating programmed karaoke backing, they gyrate offensively and beautifully.

8. Saeko Takagi - “The Colour of Empty Sky”
In a sea of sound and panoramas of pigments, “The Colour of Empty Sky” imagines all that might be possibly perceived in the heaven’s daytime expanse. To a song-score floating with ethereal charm, the changing landscape evokes the whimsy of picturing colours upon the sky’s empty canvas. Motion becomes colourful as music becomes pastoral. Voice soars on the wings of brushstrokes.