IIMURA - Born Tokyo, 1937. Lives and works in Tokyo
Takahiko iimura, 'AIUEONN Six Features', 1993
letter or a character may be national or regional, but a sound is more
Iimura is an international artist and experimental filmmaker, who has
been working with time-based media since the 1960. Throughout his career
his work has investigated the structures of language and the differences
and relationships between Eastern and Western ideas about time and space.
At the same time he has been fascinated by the semiotics of film and
video: their narrative stuctures and the way we 'read' both individual
still images and moving audio-visual sequences.
came to New York in 1966, and became involved in the of avant garde
movement there, which included artists Yoko
Ono and Nam June Paik. Much of his work seeks to disrupt the ways
we view film and video, often by paring it down to its essential, frame
by frame elements in order that the audience become aware of its construction
as much as its content. In this way he is also attempting to understand
why we view moving images the way we do, whether that is projected on
a cinema screen, through a TV monitor, or now on computers.
in different cultural contexts, in Japan, America and Europe, Iimura
has made a number of pieces which explore identity, forcing the viewer
to question how we visually and aurally perceive and try to 'place'
Six Features', 1993
The piece featured on this page (shown here as still clips from video),
has been presented in a number of formats. These include a single video
projection, an installation of six TV monitors facing the viewer and also
a performance where the artist and the projection appear side by side,
competing for the viewer's attention.
screen shows a sequence, beginning with the Roman characters representing
English vowel sounds and the Japanese characters representing the vowels
in Japanese. We then see Iimura's face, contorting and distorting as he
pronounces one of the six vowel sounds of the Japanese alphabet: A, I,
U, O and E, all of which also appear in the English alphabet and finally
NN which is unique to Japanese. The images have been manipulated by computer
animation techniques so that his face becomes an exaggerated icon to represent
the sound which accompanies it. These sequences are then repeated. The
sound of the vowel at first sychronises with the image, but later de-syncronises.
"If you know
Japanese, you perceive the video differently from someone who doesn't
know Japanese. Yet those who know Japanese also become confused initially,
as the voice doesn't synchronise with the image. I tried to separate the
sound from the image and treat them differently."Takahiko
The effect of these
exaggerated sounds and images is both funny and confusing, underlining
the experience of being lost between two cultures, illustrating the slippages
and misunderstandings which occur when one feels 'foreign'. By working
in two languages, the piece also illustrates the relationship between
the linguistic sound and the alphabet character representing it, which
is conventional rather than natural.
Six Features', 1993
Takahiko Iimura's work
is concerned, not only with the languages we use to communicate with in
everyday speech, but also with the 'language' of film and video.
- You might try using
a very simple animation programme like Gif Builder (Mac) or Gif Animator
(pc) to animate someone speaking a sentence or singing a short song.
You could use a sequence of still images either drawn or photographed
& scanned in, or digitally photographed & downloaded. Try
to match the mouth movements with the words. When you play it back,
get different people to do the 'voice-over' and video the results.
You can view video
clips from 'AIUEONN Six Features'
and get more detailed
information about Takahiko Iimura's other work at his Web site: http://www2.gol.com/users/iimura/home2.html