Ko Nakajima: Video Earth Tokyo and Japanese Cable Access

When 8 Mar 2019
6:30PM - 9:00PM
Where Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI)
535 West 22nd St, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10011
United States
EAI is pleased to partner with Collaborative Cataloging Japan (CCJ) to host a rare in-person appearance by the Japanese artist Ko Nakajima, a pioneer of experimental media and early cable access. Nakajima will present a selection of works, including titles recently preserved and made newly available by CCJ and XFR Collective, and speak to his involvement in the video collective Video Earth Tokyo and their engagement with cable access television in Tokyo at a dynamic moment in the 1970s.

Ko Nakajima is an important figure bridging experimental film, video art, and activism in Japan in the 1960s and 70s, at a vital moment of cross-pollination and expansion across the arts. In an essay commissioned for EAI’s DVD edition Vital Signals: Early Japanese Video Art, scholar Hirofumi Sakamoto details this moment, observing key overlaps with activities in Canada and the United States, especially around Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.). Sakamoto also describes a unique continuum between early video and Japan’s own rich experimental film scene, and the natural extension from one technology-based art form to another—fomented in the homeland of the major electronics corporations like SONY and JVC that were responsible for the video equipment that catalyzed experimentation on video and television around the world.
Innovation, with a strong sense of video’s uniquely social and participatory nature, was a driving force for many of the artists and collectives active in Japan at this time. Nakajima was exemplary among them, simultaneously extending the formal language of his own moving image art while founding the collective Video Earth Tokyo. An inventive and hands-on animator, as seen in the film Seizoki (1964) where he painted directly onto the filmstrips, Nakajima carried his playful visual language into the realm of video and computer animation, developing unique optics through electronic manipulations. He notably worked with SONY and JVC to develop devices to make animated video and computer effects more accessible, including the “Aniputer,” a personal computer for creating digital graphics.

Nakajima’s work with Video Earth Tokyo reflected the community-oriented video collective scene in 1970s Japan, which focused on recording social activities and interventions for broadcast on television, such as Video Earth Tokyo’s sprawling picnic on a subway platform. At EAI, Nakajima will present excerpts from select Video Earth Tokyo tapes, including insightful interviews at CATV stations in Japan that have just recently been preserved by CCJ, to promote further research into an aspect of Japanese video history that remains under-recognized.

Program of works to be screened:

Seizoki (1964), Ko Nakajima, 4 min, 16mm film on video, color, sound
Shokutaku Ressha (Video Picnic) (1975), Video Earth Tokyo, 8 min, video, b&w, sound
Under A Bridge (1974), Video Earth Tokyo, 13 min, video, b&w, sound
Video Earth Tokyo interviews of Ikeda and Shimoda CATVS (excerpts), approx. 25 mins
This screening is part of New Findings in 1970s Japanese Video Art: Works of Ko Nakajima and Video Earth Tokyo, a project co-organized by the XFR Collective and Collaborative Cataloging Japan. Additional presentation of newly digitized works by Ko Nakajima will be on view fall 2019, details TBA.

Nakajima’s photography is also currently featured at the Japan Society’s exhibition, Radicalism in the Wilderness: Japanese Artists in the Global 1960s, from March 8th to June 9th. In 1969, Nakajima gained rare access to the artist Yutaka Matsuzawa’s Psi Zashiki Room, to which few people were invited. On March 10th at 2pm, Nakajima will discuss his experience with Matsuzawa atImage-in-Focus: Ko Nakajima at Japan Society Gallery.

Image courtesy of the organizer.

For more information please click here.