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Cinéma ethnographique, n° 40-42, automne 2019Jeu vidéo et cinéma, n° 39, automne 2018Lionel Rogosin, n° 37-38, automne 2017
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Cinéma de re-montage, n° 34-36, automne 2016
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Séries télévisées contemporaines, n° 32-33, printemps 2016Education au cinéma, n° 31, automne 2015René Vautier, n° 29-30, printemps 2015Arnaud Desplechin, n° 28, automne 2014Drones, cartographie et images automatisées, n° 26-27, printemps 2014Werner Herzog, n°25, automne 2013Le doublage, n° 23-24, printemps 2013Cinéma élargi, n° 21-22, hiver 2012Dossier: Peter Watkins, n°20, printemps 2012Autour d'Elephant de Gus Van Sant, n°19, automne 2011Mario Ruspoli et le cinéma direct, n°18, printemps 2011Les abîmes de l'adaptation, n°16-17, automne 2010Raoul Ruiz, n°15, automne 2009Cinéma et migration, n°14, printemps 2009Anna Sanders Films, cinéma et art contemporain, n° 13, automne 2008Fredi M. Murer, n° 12, printemps 2008Terrence Malick, n° 11, automne 2007La trilogie de Dieu de João César Monteiro, n° 10, printemps 2007Le monde de Star Wars, n° 8-9, automne 2006Stephen Dwoskin, n° 7, printemps 2006Train et cinéma, n° 6, automne 2005David Lynch, n° 4-5, printemps 2005Hitchcock côté cour, n° 3, printemps 2004Le hors-champ, n° 1-2, automne 2003

‘Site and Specificity in Japanese Expanded Cinema: Intermedia and its Development in the late-60s’ by Julian Ross


Forgotten Histories


The recent re-examination of expanded cinema has largely curtailed the experiments that emerged in Japan during the 1960s and early 1970s. Of course, there is no denying the influence North American developments had on their Japanese counterparts across the Pacific Ocean; indeed, the multi-projection presentations at Montreal’s World Expo in 1967[i] held an undeniable impact on Awazu Kiyoshi[ii] and Matsumoto Toshio, both already influential artists of their generation as a graphic designer and avant-garde filmmaker respectively, who became leading figures of the establishment of expanded cinema in Japan. The late-60s saw an explosion in expanded cinema as a form of expression, branching out into different directions beyond what the Japanese artists saw at the Montreal Expo.  It seems pertinent, now more than ever, when the chronicling of expanded cinema is under progress, to introduce the variety of experimentation that occurred under the framework of expanded cinema in Japan during its formative years to counter the assumption that its evolution was a Euro-American privilege, something I would argue current accounts are in danger of professing.  


Channeling Martin Heidegger’s understanding of “emptiness” not as deficiency but ‘bringing-forth’ (1997a: 123-4)[iii], this article will explore in what ways artists in the field of expanded cinema accented the relationships between art and space and suggest, in fact, the experience of the work was determined by the site of projection, whether its cultural-political context or its physical structures, which was brought about in the event of the cinematic projection. In turn, however, I will argue the site was also delineated by the event, its presence defined by the act of projection much in the way shadow intimately relies on light. Firstly, Sōgetsu Art Centre will be introduced as a venue where many of the early expanded cinema projections were exhibited, and will be raised as a privileged site for experimentation in the arts to explore in what ways the space defined the events and, in turn, how the events demarcated the space. Secondly, other venues that held expanded cinema events will be chronicled and discussed through Matsumoto’s experiments in expanded cinema between 1968-1970, whereby concluding with an exploration of his moving-image installation in the Senni-kan pavilion specifically constructed for the Ōsaka Expo in 1970.


Site: Sōgetsu Art Centre


Sōgetsu Art Centre was established in 1958 by Teshigahara Hiroshi and, located in the basement of his father Teshigahara Sōfū’s successful flower arrangement school[iv] Sōgetsu in Akasaka, Tokyo, it became the epicentre of the burgeoning art scene in Japan[v]. Japanese artists and critics built social networks under the framework of an ‘association’ (in Japanese, kai) to discuss questions concerning art and culture, and the members of such groups encompassed artists from different corners of the spectrum of cultural activity. Jikken Kōbō (Experimental Workshop, 1951-58), a multi-media group led by poet and art critic Takiguchi Shūzō, for example, included musicians, visual artists, art critics and lighting technicians, many of whom were later involved with Sōgetsu and they were amongst the first to build from discussions into collaborative projects, for example, with their multi-media ballet production Mirai no Eve (Eve Future Ballet, 1955)[vi]. Yamaguchi Katsuhiro, one of its members, described the workshop as ‘Bauhaus without a building’, (1991) and as the comment indicates, groups such as Jikken Kōbō and associations such as Kiroku Geijutsu no Kai[vii] had sought accommodation but had not found shelter; in a sense, Sōgetsu was a culmination that resulted from the desire engendered by such postwar activities for a space to house the sharing of avant-garde pursuits.


Sōgetsu Art Centre, until its closure in 1971, housed dance and poetry recitals, avant-garde theatre, jazz and improvised-music performances, live-art events, TV experiments, symposia on art as well as Japan’s first experimental film festival that showcased animation and live-action experiments. They also ran a journal, SAC (renamed SAC Journal from issue 14) between 1960-1964, where not only were critics and artists invited to publish written work but also graphic art and sketches. The promotional material were also considered platforms for artistic expression where graphic designers, including the aforementioned Awazu but also Yokoo Tadanori and Wada Makoto, were commissioned to design printed material and posters[viii]. Stretching beyond Japan, Sōgetsu also became a conduit of intercultural dialogue by extending their invitation to artists abroad, many of whom visited the country for their first time, and include: John Cage; Merce Cunningham; David Tudor; Robert Rauschenberg; Stan VanDerBeek and many more. In touch with the latest developments in the arts, Sōgetsu was an institution that posed a challenged to the avant-garde and, in turn, was perpetually challenged by the avant-garde.  Avant-garde has been historically attributed to activity that destablizes the framework of the art institution; however, this understanding hinders on a proposition that the institution remains a constant and stationary entity, a value judgement that I propose to dispute as institutions can be differentiated from one another according to their individual histories, developments and approach. In the case of Sōgetsu Art Centre, in particular, the relationship between artists and the venue cannot be reduced to a dialectical opposition where, in fact, their interactions were of intimate correspondence. As Maxa Zoller examines in her examination of ‘spatial circumstances’ in European experimental film, the institution may no longer hold the status of the ‘enemy’ but, instead, also be in the process of defining itself: ‘…the institution is never a static, unchanging ‘enemy’ but like art is always in flux, mutating and changing according to wider political and socio-economic shifts.” (2010: 53-4). Although the physical stasis of an architectural setting may allow us think otherwise, Dorita Hannah argues space has been exposed as a ‘temporal event’ by modernist activities and we can perceive them, “…more in a state of active becoming rather than passive being.” (2011: 55). Sōgetsu Art Centre, “temporalized” by the events it held under its roof, was in a radical process of perpetual transformation. As the projection of light touches the spatial structures of the space, I hereby suggest, experimental film projection that occurred in Sōgetsu most prominently displayed this relationship of mutual becoming.


Although not dubbed as such as of yet, early experiments in expanded cinema was practiced on the stages of Sōgetsu Art Centre. In November 1960, Manabe Hiroshi presented Butai no tame no Animation (An Animation for the Stage) at the Sōgetsu Art Centre as part of the ‘Sōgetsu Contemporary Series 5: Animation 3-nin no Kai’ (Animation Three-Person Circle) presentation. The manifesto for the Animation Three-Person Circle had proposed, ‘In order for us to truly survive in modernity, we must repeat a range of experiments to progress animation, along with cinema and the visual arts.’ (Kuri, Manabe, Yanagihara 2002: 43)[ix] The presentation involved Manabe’s animations projected together with the live-action film Marine Snow (Kobayashi Yone, 1960) and light displays that interacted with Kanze Hideo’s ‘actions’ and broadcast-poetry read out by Kijima Hajime. In Projection for a Stage, the specificities of any of the applied mediums are lost due to the radical dispersal of focal points whereby the primacy of projection or of the dance performance is dislocated, although, as the title indicates, still in service of the stage. At Sweet 16, a performance event coordinated by musicians Yasunao Tone and Kosugi Takehisa on 3-5 December 1963, Takahiko Iimura presented Screen Play, a performance where he projected his films onto the back of a human body. Akasegawa Genpei recalls Takamatsu Jirō, his collaborator in the Hi-Red Centre[x], was sat with his back to the audience whilst Iimura projected moving images onto his jacket. Akasegawa remembers that, in an impromptu intervention, he cut the jacket in the shape of the projected image with some scissors during the performance, resulting in the images to be projected onto Takamatsu’s naked back (1984: 245). Iimura had established alliances with performance artists such as Kazakura Shō (Dance Party in the Kingdom of Liliput, 1963), Hijikata Tatsumi and Ohno Kazuo (Anma, 1963) by recording their performances as film as well as screening his films where their performances happened[xi]. Iimura’s Screen Play emancipated his film Iro (Colour, 1963) by displacing the ‘screen’ from the film experience and replacing it with the somatic surface of a human back. In the collaboration with two leading performance artists of the postwar years, Iimura hereby capitalized on his relationships beyond his social circle of filmmakers and repositioned cinema out of its established procedures of projection and reception, yet, his performance simultaneously belonged to and was grounded in the multi-media space that was the Sōgetsu Art Centre.


The two performances mark early precedents for expanded cinema projections, testifying to the fact that Japanese artists were investigating possibilities beyond the frame prior to their knowledge of the experiments in North America. Moreover, Manabe and Iimura’s works channel Sōgetsu’s stance of presenting a range of autonomous arts on the same platform, yet, it also challenges its institutional framework by defying conventional categories assigned to such forms of expression. Manabe’s Projection for a Stage was framed within an ‘animation’ event and Iimura’s Screen Play took part at a ‘performance’ series that showcased music and theatre, yet both resolutely defied classification into a genre. Juliane Rebentisch in discussing site-specific art, suggests that artistic expressions such as these, “reflects on the institutional, social, economic, political and/or historical conditions that frame it by intervening formally in a given architecture or landscape.” (2012: 222) In the same sense, Iimura and Manabe’s performances, specific to the site that was Sōgetsu Art Centre, call for a reflection on what ways their work is framed by the institution and, at the same time, in what ways the institution comes to be defined by the art work they inhabit.


Event: EXPOSE ‘68


At the EXPOSE ‘68: Nanika Ittekure, Ima Sagasu (EXPOSE ‘68: Say Something Now, I’m Looking for Something to Say), organized by critic Tōno Yoshiaki and curator-theorist Nakahara Yūsuke, a number of key pieces in expanded cinema were also showcased. Convened together with the magazine Design Hihyō (Design Criticism), edited by Awazu Kiyoshi, the event ran over 5 days in April 1968 and returned due to popular demand on 17-19 July 1968. Alongside panel discussions, angura (underground) theatre performances, poetry recitals and sound displays, the event was conceived to explore contemporary questions concerning the arts art large. In the promotional material, the organizers stated:


Contemporary art is currently experiencing extreme changes. It feels pertinent to develop a stronger relationship with our new environment by reforming our deflated consciousness and senses in reaction to our everyday life that is causing the transformation in the arts… Along with a symposium, events will unfold with moving images, light-projections and sounds to tear open a new artistic situation in hope to renew opportunities.

(Unknown 2002: 387)


EXPOSE ‘68 was organized after Awazu, one of the key organizers, had returned from the Montreal Expo 1967; in fact, Awazu’s presentation was a slide-projection piece called Holiday On Print, an multi-projection piece with eight slide projectors that directly drew inspiration from what he saw at the Montreal Expo. Multiple projection, by its very presence in the symposium, was therefore considered to be at the forefront of artistic innovation and emblematic of changes in the arts according to the promotional material of the events.


Opening the second day of the series, Matsumoto Toshio presented Tsuburekakatta Migimeno Tameni (For My Crushed Right Eye, 1968), a ‘cinema mosaic’ conducted with three film projectors, two projecting images horizontally alongside each other and with the third positioned in between[xii]. The content of the images, reminiscent of Breath Death (1963) by Stan VanDerBeek who Matsumoto had interviewed on a visit on the way back from Montreal for Expo 67, displays the hustle and bustle of contemporary Tokyo in all its diversity with erratic cuts and sonic chaos. The visual outcome of multiple-projection, what was declared the first in Japan’s moving-image history (Katsuhiro 1968: 88), called for an active audience as we are asked to make decisions in our direction of perspective; as Iimura explains in his discussion of his own work, “…multiple projection demands an engaged participation from its audience. During multiple projection, the audience selects what they see freely.” (1969: 154) At the climax of the presentation, Matsumoto blinded his audience[xiii] by switching on a light flash he had arranged on the periphery of the stage to signal the acme of visual cacophony and enforce an Artaudian arousal from the viewers. What may ostensibly be understood as a radical intervention into the audiences’ environment, in fact, could also be construed to mark the limits of the space and the stasis of the audience. For the audience to be blinded at once their bodies must all face the stage and their eyes must be pointed at the screen. The proscenium stage, architectured to accommodate the ‘principles of Renaissance perspective’ with ‘lines of persuasion’ (White 2012: 33), became a spatial limitation for the artists.


In a sense, the activity of searching for alternative presentations of cinema could be understood as the return to cinematic presentations in film’s early development. Richie and Anderson, for example, wrote that one showman was recorded to have positioned the projector on the right side of the stage, projecting stage-left, with equal emphasis between the apparatus of film projection and the projected image. (1982: 23-4) As the organizational layout of the stage and the auditorium began to pose limitations in the 1960s, such practices were rejuvenated where, as Rebentisch comments on the Euro-American case, “…the reflection on the cinematic means was stepped up one degree: it now extended not only to the cinematic means of representation, but also the cinematic forms of presentation.” (Rebentisch 2012: 174).


Event: Cross-Talk Intermedia


Matsumoto, who had shared a desire to expand his projections beyond the frame at the EXPOST 1968 event, began to design expanded cinema pieces outside of the architectural confines of the cultural institution, along with many of his contemporaries, marking a trend in the escape of moving images from the cinema. Although expanded cinema existed in its literal translation (kakuchō eiga) and enunciation (ekusupande’do shinema), the Japanese also used ‘intermedia’ (intāmedia) to describe cinematic projection that refused to comply to the rules of normative projection. Coined in 1965 by Fluxus artist Dick Higgins, the term originally indicated performative forms that collapsed the barriers between art and life; on its arrival to Japan in 1967, the word was quickly subsumed to define experiments in expanded projections[xiv]. In May 1967, ‘Intermedia’, the first event in Japan to assume the use of the word, was held at the Runami Gallery in Ginza as a 5-day event that explored different variations in performative expression. In the same year, Yasunao Tone declared:


If we were to distinguish ‘happenings’, ‘events’ and ‘intermedia’ we could divide them apart using which genre of art they emerged from: happenings derived from action-paintings; ‘events’ came out of improvised music; and, finally, intermedia stemmed from the underground film movement.

(1967: 103)


Tone’s comments suggest, at least in the Japanese interpretation of the word, that intermedia was intimately linked with experimentation in cinema. Intermedia, in its moving-image manifestation particular to Japan, branched out into different spatial environments in the late 1960s to encapsulate the artists’ desires to explore the performative dimension of cinema and abandon the physical space of the cinematic institution. Intermedia was used in the titles of the following events: ‘Psycho-Delicious Intermedia Piece #1 and #2’ at Angura Pop, a nightclub in Shinjuku (Feb-March 1968); ‘815 Church Passage: Intermedia Piece’ at Yamanote Church in Shibuya (August 1968); the first two days of the ‘Intermedia Art Festival’ at the nightclub Killer Joe’s in Shibuya; the third and last day of ‘Intermedia Art Festival’ at concert-space Nikkei Hall (January 1969); ‘Cross-Talk Intermedia’ at the 2nd Yoyogi Kokuritsu Kyōgijyō gymnasium (February 1969); and ‘Flying Focus: Intermedia Piece’ at Rekisen Kōen park (June 1970). All the above events included light-, slide- or moving-image projection, mostly a mixture of these, and were events organized by artists interested in exploring possibilities in the newly founded, but not yet grounded, form of expression. The site of projection determined what differentiated the events from one another, I would argue, as each space offered different opportunities and constraints. Tracing Matsumoto’s practice in the late 1960s allows us to test this hypothesis.


The ‘Cross-Talk Intermedia’ event, held at the 2nd Yoyogi National Gymnasium between 2-5 February 1969, was the fourth in a series of ‘Cross Talk’ events organized and funded by the American Cultural Institute, and partially supported by Asahi Shimbun newspaper. Convened by Roger and Karen Reynolds, Akiyama Kuniharu, who took charge of the soundscapes in For My Crushed Right Eye, and Yuasa Jōji, an ex-Jikken Kōbō musician, the event was the first in the series to incorporate ‘intermedia’ in its title and focused primarily on experimenting with advanced visual and sonic technology. Yuasa Jōji’s comments on intermedia testify this point: “Regardless of what the exact definition of intermedia might be, there is no denying its connection with technology.” (1969: 99) Criticized at its time for succumbing to mass sponsorship (including Pepsi and Sony) as well as for its ties with the U.S embassy during the peak of the Anti-Anpo protests[xv], the event was held at a gymnasium that was specifically constructed for the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 and was seen as a preview event to the Ōsaka Expo 1970 as it shared many of its participants[xvi], including Matsumoto. At Cross Talk Intermedia, Matsumoto presented an expanded cinema piece Icon no tame no Projection (Projection for Icon), where he unleashed twenty large balloons into the auditorium with colour-light and moving-image projections pointing toward the balloons. The surfaces the images were projected against were deliberately unstable, allowing for a certain level of contingency to determine the visual results as the balloons bounced against each other in continuous movement. The images stretched in scale and focus according to the spherical surfaces and the circumference of the floating objects. Matsumoto utilized the space of the gymnasium provided, where the audience was sat above and around the centre and viewing from different vantage points, producing an effect that repositions what Gene Youngblood criticized as the ‘flat and frontal orientation’ (1970: 371) that we find in conventional cinematic projections. Iimura, who also participated in the event with his multiple loop-film projection, Circles, suggested that:


In projection-art, when it is not left automatic, the notion of performance is brought into projection, meaning each screening is a stand-alone performance. This a key shift in cinema. Filmmakers, until now, had only been involved with a project until its production was completed but were never responsible for its exhibition, even though film expression is born for the first time when projected and the cinema is a space for communication between individuals. (Iimura 1969: 154)


Iimura continued, “Intermedia is an opportunity to put cinema back onto a blank page.” (1969: 156), declaring that the filmmaker, together with the audience, is able to witness the unfolding of their own work into ways impossible to precisely predict. Ichikawa Miyabi, who organized the ‘Expanded Art Festival’ at the Kishi Gymnasium in Shibuya in March 1970, suggested, “intermedia art involves the act of performance but also a process that includes the incalculable involvement of the audience” and “allows for the audience to select where they direct their attention and take hold of the situation.” (1969: 70) Intermedia, in the spatial environment of the gymnasium and séanced by Matsumoto, emancipated the cinema audience from their prescribed viewpoint with the final outcome, “…no longer the maker’s tool but […] unleashed to co-exist with the maker and the audience.” (Iimura 1969: 155)


Site and Event, Site as Event: Ōsaka Expo 1970 and Senni-Kan


Matsumoto’s final experiment in expanded cinema before his return to feature-filmmaking with Shura (Pandemonium, 1971), culminated in Space Projection Ako (1970) that he conceived as the director of the Senni-kan pavilion for the Ōsaka Expo 1970. The projection-piece was a large-scale audiovisual sensation displayed using ten 35mm projectors and eight slide-projectors along with sounds generated by six soundtracks going through 26 channels into 57 large speakers. What distinguished Space Projection Ako from his previous expanded cinema experiments, however, was not only the scale and technology in which Matsumoto was given relatively free reign but the environment specifically designed to accommodate the projection. The architectural space, designed by graphic designer Yokoo Tadanori, realized an environment with multiple entrances with inner layers that were painted in red, connoting a womb, with sculptural body-shapes pasted within the surroundings that let off strobe-lights from their eyes. The space itself, along with the moving images, sculptures, lighting and soundscapes, became an integral part of the experiential narrative concocted by the event. In fact, Matsumoto declares that, although a lot of weight was placed on the images, Space Projection Ako was not a film. (1970: 97) The site, therefore, was defined by its projection and was set forth into existence by the event of projection, and vice versa, a mutually reciprocal and responsible relationship that recalls Heidegger’s metaphor of the bridge to describe the phenomenology of space. According to Heidegger, “One of the [spots] turns out to be a location, and does so because of the bridge […] a location comes into existence only by virtue of the bridge.” (1997b: 154) The same could be said for moving image projections, where a surface is ‘set-forth’ to being when projected onto, whereby a reciprocal relationship ensues, as the projection only initiates its state of becoming when it finds a surface to manifest against. The inner layers of the dome in Senni-kan, intentionally insinuating a womb with awareness of its connotations, together with footage of a young woman that inhabited the only content of all the images, culminated to suggest the somatic notion of birth and pointed towards the perpetual state of active becoming for the site and the projection.


Furthermore, the Senni-kan pavilion’s Space Projection Ako redefines the relationship between the event and audience because, as there are no seats, spectators are free to roam around the environment. Matsumoto, discussing his own multi-projection events, proposed that his audiences may look towards any direction ‘in total freedom,’ individually experiencing different things depending on their perspective and becoming ‘a part of the screen and initiating coincidental changes to the imagery with their shadows.’ (1970: 98) Boris Groys agrees in his declaration that in conventional cinematic reception the spectator is, “placed into a situation of absolute powerlessness, of paralysis, of immobility,” and, on the other hand, the visitor of an installation is able to participate in an analytical engagement with the work: “The ability to move freely in space is a necessary precondition for the emergence and further development of a thinking that can be put into language.” (2001: 13, cited and translated in Rebentisch 2012: 180-1) On the other hand, however, Matsumoto’s Space Projection Ako can also be understood as a spectacle of immersion that invites little response from its audience other than awe. Matsumoto himself describes the graphic score he composed for the moving image projection as akin to an orchestral score (1970: 88), a remark that triggers the notion of ‘total work of art’ (Gesamtkunstwerk) conceived by Richard Wagner and the sensory suspension his opera, and its physical environment, was to instigate onto his audience. KuroDalaiJee, in discussing the phenomena of intāmedia in the late 1960s, suggests that it, “gradually became an apolitical spectacle with more high-tech equipment, grand exhibition spaces and large-scale funding, no longer angura (underground) or avant-garde.” (2010: 82) Certainly, those involved in the Ōsaka Expo were criticized, contemporarily and since, for participating in what was considered an industrialist, commercialist and nationalist event. In discussing installation art, Juliane Rebentisch describes such works to be ‘context-sensitive’ and that they include the ‘social framework that influence the reception of art in general.’ (2012: 221) Indeed, it is difficult to divorce the socio-political circumstances present in the experience of the Ōsaka Expo as an event of this socio-political bearing. Not only the physical structure of the space, but the social framework it embodies, determines the experience of Space Projection Ako and the relationship between art and space hereby is affected.


The Non-Event of Sōgetsu’s Film Art Festival


The necessity of a projection surface in the event of the cinematic projection became a loaded question in the event of the usurpation of Sōgetsu’s ‘Film Art Festival Tokyo 1969’. Forced to cancel in response to the forced intervention of ‘Festival Funsai Kyōtō Kaigi’ (The Joint Struggle to Destroy the Festival), comprising mainly members of the Anti-Expo movement[xvii], who decried the hierarchical nature of competition in film festivals as well as the organizers’ relationship with the upcoming Ōsaka Expo 1970 that they also viewed with contempt. In many ways, the intervention followed the international trend of boycotting or disturbing film festivals at a time of political fervent. In their defence, the group cited the statement Jonas Mekas made when declining the offer to take part as a juror at the Venice Film Festival in 1968, and the actions followed the cancellation of the Cannes Film Festival in 1968 as well as the series of interventions in Exprmntl 4 at Knokke-le-Zoute (December 1967 – January 1968).[xviii] A discourse on the idea of ‘space’ (ba), in the context of a shared environment for what purposes, ensued in the pages of critical journals, of which Matsumoto contributed his thoughts (2002: 402-3). Ishiko Junzō, an art critic, reminded his readers in relation to Sōgetsu that, “If ‘space’ does not just indicate the site of projection, ‘space’ is not a neutral medium.’ (Ishiko 2002: 404)


This article has aimed to suggest that, indeed, space is never in a state of stasis and, instead, in a perpetual state of becoming, which is most prominently displayed in the event of an expanded cinema projection. Following Zoller’s approach to “look at film art as a product of its spatial circumstances, rather than as the autonomous ‘brainchild’ of an individual filmmaker,” (2010: 54) I have hoped to demonstrate that the space, both in its physical manifestation and its social framework, was instrumental in the development of expanded cinema in Japan and, in perpetual negotiation with the space, the projections were crucial in defining the site of its existence.




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Matsumoto, Toshio (1970). ‘Kyōki to Eros-teki Taiken no Ba – Senni-kan’ (The Space for Crazy and Erotic Experiences: Senni-kan Pavilion) in Bijutsu Techō, 327, May: 82-100.

Matsumoto, Toshio (2002), ‘”Eiga” ni totte Ima Naniga Hitsuyōka: “Ba” wa akumademo Baitai’ (What Film Requires Now: Space is just a Medium), Shūkan Dokusho Jin in Yoshimi Nara, Kiko Nomura, Kaoruko Ōtani and Haruo Fukuzumi (eds), Kagayake 60-nen dai: Sōgetsu Art Centre no Zenkiroku. Tokyo: Film Art, pp. 402-3. Originally published in Shūkan Dokushojin (Weekly Literary Reader), 1969, November 17th.

Rebentisch, Juliane (2012). Aesthetics of Installation Art, translated by Daniel Hendrickson with Gerrit Jackson. Berlin: Sternberg Press.

Rees, A.L (2011). ‘Expanded Cinema and Narrative: A Trouble History’ in A.L Rees, Duncan White, Steven Ball and David Curtis (eds), Expanded Cinema: Art, Performance, Film. London: Tate Publishing, pp. 12-21.

Tone, Yasunao (1967). ‘Geijyutsu no Chikaku-hendō – Expo kara Hippi made’ (The Diastrophism of Arts: From Expo to the Hippies), Bijutsu Techō, 289, November: 98-109.

White, Ian (2012). ‘Performer, Audience, Mirror: Cinema, Theatre and the Idea of the Live’ in Bridget Crone (ed), The Sensible Stage: Staging and the Moving Image. Bristol: Picture This, pp. 31-43.

Yamaguchi, Katsuhiro (1991). ‘Jikken Kōbō ni yoru Ongaku to Henaku no Kakuchō’ (Experimental Workshop’s Reformation and Expansion of Music) in Haruo Fukuzumi (ed), Daijukkai Homage Takiguchi Shūzō: Jikken Kōbō to Takiguchi Shūzō. Tokyo: Satani Gallery.

Youngblood, Gene (1970). Expanded Cinema. London: Studio Vista.

Yuasa, Jōji (1969). ‘Hirogerareta Kūkan eno Kairo’ (A Circuit into an Expanded Space) in Bijutsu Techō, 306, April: 96-133.

Zoller, Maxa (2011). ‘”Festival” and “museum” in modernist film histories’ in (ed) Tamara Todd, Screen/Space: The projected image in contemporary art. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, pp. 53-72.






[i] Montreal’s Expo 67 saw a proliferation of experiments in expanded cinema, in particular, multiple projection installations at the Cominco pavilion, the U.S pavilion and the Czechoslovakia pavilion. For a documented account on the various multi-screen presentation that were viewed during the Expo 67, see (Highmore 2010)


[ii] In this article, Japanese names are given in their native order – surname first. Exceptions are made for Japanese artists who reside outside of Japan and have referred to themselves using the Western order; for example, Takahiko Iimura, Yasunao Tone and Yoko Ono.


[iii] In ‘Art and Space’, Heidegger discusses the ways in which space ‘comes into play’ with the presence of a sculpture and is ‘occupied by the sculptured structure.’ Regarding “emptiness,” Heidegger refers to the eytmylogical origins of the verb ‘to empty’ (leeren) to show the word collecting (lesen) and uses the metaphor to ‘empty a glass’ meaning ‘to gather a glass.’ Emptiness, in terms of Heidegger’s philosophy of space, is therefore a state of activity rather than a ‘nothing’ or a place to be embodied. In the analysis of expanded cinema and its relationship to space, I suggest it is useful to borrow Heidegger’s notion to explore the influence of space on the outcome of a projection event.


[iv] Teshigahara Sōfū’s flower arrangements (ikebana) pushed the boundaries of the traditional art into experimental directions that took it beyond decoration into artistic realms. See Teshigahara Hiroshi’s film Sōfū to Objet: Ikebana (Ikebana, 1956).


[v] For more information on the activities of Sogetsu Art Centre please see (Yoshimi et al 2002).


[vi] In the 1950s the notion of sōgō geijutsu (synthesis of the arts) was theorized by many critics including Hanada Kiyoteru and practiced by Jikken Kōbō Experimental Workshop. In many ways it should be considered as precedessors to the development of inatāmedia in Japan. For more on sōgō geijutsu, see Hanada, Kiyoteru (1994). Avant-Garde Geijutsu (Avant-Garde Arts). Tokyo: Kōdansha; Noma Hiroshi (1959) and Kankaku to Yokubō to Mono ni Tsuite – Noma Hiroshi Hyōronshū (On Feelings, Desires and Things: Collected Writings of Noma Hiroshi). Tokyo: Mirai-sha. More information on Jikken Kobo can be found in the catalogue for the touring exhibition ‘Jikken Kōbō Ten: Sengo Gijutsu o Kirisaku’ (Jikken Kōbō – Experimental Workshop). See (Hirano 2013).


[vii] Kiroku Geijutsu no Kai (Association of Recording Arts) was a group, including members such as Abe Kōbō and Hanada Kiyoteru, that discussed sōgō geijutsu that transcended artistic genres between photography, theatre and film.


[viii] All available posters, flyers and other material are archived at the Keio University Art Centre and will be made available online on post, a project ran Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives (C-MAP) of the Museum of Modern Art New York, scheduled to be launched in 2013.


[ix] All translations by the author, unless otherwise stated.


[x] Hi-Red Centre was a performance group consisting of Takamatsu Jirō, Akasegawa Genpei and Nakanishi Natsuyuki, as well as some occasional guest members, and was active between 1960-1964. They often performed in public spaces but also exhibited at gallery spaces, such as the Naiqua Gallery where Takahiko Iimura had also screened his works, and its members later became associated with Fluxus.


[xi] Dada 62 (1962) and Onan (1963) were screened at the Naiqua Gallery.


[xii] A recorded version of the performance can be viewed as part of the Matsumoto Toshio box set released by Image Forum, or alternatively, be viewed on UbuWeb: <> (last accessed 29 September 2012)


[xiii] Matsumoto also blinded participants of the symposium by projecting his films into their direction during their speeches. Matsumoto Toshio’s Anpo Treaty (Anpo Jyōyaku, 1960), Nishijin (The Weavers of Nishijin, 1962) and Haha-tachi (Mothers, 1967) and Konno Tsutomu’s Okinawa and Shichi-nin no Keiji (Seven Police, 1961-69) were projected onto the speakers at the symposium. See (Katsuhiro 1968: 39).


[xiv] Expanded cinema was theorized and discussed in the second issue of Kikan Firumu (Quarterly Film) journal, 2 (Feb 1969) with articles by Takahiko Iimura, Nakahara Yūsuke, translation of ‘The Use of Space in the New Theatre’ by Michael Kirby (originally published in The Tulane Drama Review, 11, 1 (Autumn 1966): 49-61.) and a round-table discussion between Takemitsu Tōru, Matsumoto Toshio, Miyai Rikurō and architect Isozaki Arata. Expanded cinema, in many ways, was synonymous to intermedia (intāmedia) in Japan where the word was specifically practiced and theorized in relation to cinema. For writing on intāmedia and expanded cinema in Japan, see: Tone, Yasunao (1967). ‘Geijyutsu no Chikaku-hendō – Expo kara Hippi made’ (The Diastrophism of Arts: From Expo to the Hippies), Bijutsu Techō, 289, November: 98-109; Ishiko, Jūzō (1969). ‘Geijutsu wa Sangyō Kyōryoku no tame ni arunoka – Cross Talk Intermedia Sōhyō’ (Does Art Exist to Cooperate with Industry – Comments on Cross Talk Intermedia), Eiga Hyōron, 26, 4: 81-84; Ichikawa, Miyabi (1969). ‘Total Sensuality no Kaifuku’ (The Recovery of Total Sensuality), SD, 53, April: 69-71; Ichikawa, Miyabi (1970). ‘Genre no Hakai to Shinka wo’ (The Destruction and Deepening of Genres), Bijutsu Techō, 326, 4: 102-3.


[xv] The Anti-Anpo protests were the nationwide demonstrations against and leading up to the re-signing of the U.S-Japan Security Treaty in 1970. Although the protests were particular to its locality, it channeled the international uprisings of the late 1960s as well as Japan’s own protests against the first re-signing of the same treaty in 1960.


[xvi] EXPOSE ’68 was criticized for the same reasons as the title itself deliberately refers to the Expo 1970 (Katsuhiro 1969: 17).


[xvii] The Anti-Expo movement (also known as the Banpaku Hakai Katsudō) was organized by a group of performance-artists and filmmakers that included the Zero Jigen performance group, 8-Generation film collective and filmmaker Kanesaka Kenji, who organized a range of Anti-Expo events under the title ‘Hanpaku’ (a wordplay replacing Ban-paku (Expo) with Han (anti-) –paku (Anti-Expo) in Tokyo and near the Expo site in Ōsaka. For more information on the Anti-Expo movement, see (KuroDalaiJee 2010: 73-94).


[xviii] See (Zoller 2010: 54-60) for more details on the political demonstrations that occurred during the Exprmntl 4 festival, including a human pyramid that blocked the screen during the screening of Wakamatsu Kōji’s Taiji ga mitsuryō suru toki (The Embryo Hunts in Secret, 1966).