Sunday May 21, 7:30pm
Ko Nakajima
Part 1: Works 1964-1988
Introduced by Mio Nakai

Still from “Rangitoto” by Ko Nakajima (1988) – Image courtesy of the artist

“I want to make the computer effects as close to nature as possible, not to go away from it. I feel the main use computers are put to these days is destructive. All the development of nuclear technology is done with computers. My attitude is to reverse that, to use the computer to go back to nature.” – Ko Nakajima

Microscope is very pleased to present a two-part screening of works by Japanese video and computer animation pioneer Ko Nakajima featuring a selection of rarely seen works from the 1960s to late 1980s.

Nakajima is a Tokyo based artist who got his start in the 1960s with 16mm film animation and shifted in 1971 to completely embrace video, a medium he continues to work with today. In the early 70s, he founded “Video Earth Tokyo” a network for independent video makers with branches throughout Japan. The artist also contributed to broaden the technical possibilities of the medium by developing the “Animaker” with Sony in 1978 to simplify video animations and later the “Aniputer” with JVC, a portable machine that facilitated the access to 2D and 3D computer graphics for the general public and led to the production of his best known work “Mt. Fuji”.

This first evening features a range of early film and video works made between 1964 and 1988 including early paint-on-film animation, video documentation of a Video Earth Tokyo members’ performance on a train, the reality between the photographic image and its making, footage of dancers dissolving into French megalithic monuments processed through video synthesizers, and computer-generated spheres arising from the landscape of the volcanic island of Rangitoto in New Zealand, among others.

The second part will focus on the rare, full 90 minute version of Nakajima’s 1984 “Mt. Fuji”.

General admission $8
Members and students w/ ID $6


Tickets also available at the door

Ko Nakajima was born in Tokyo in 1945 and graduated from the Tama Art University in 1963. From 1965 he worked in the field of experimental film animation. A pioneer of video art and computer animation, he participated in various exhibitions on the theme of computing, and regularly hosted workshops contributing to the dissemination and popularization of the electronic image. Starting more consistently with the videos “Mt. Fuji” (1984), “Dolmen” (1987) and “Rangitoto” (1988) the artist combined these technologies with his interest in earth and nature, and also producing a series of large video installations involving monitors intertwined with natural elements such as trees, rocks, etc. Most recently, in 2014 he completed a video “Dance of the Dead” shot in the Tohoku region right after it was hit by the earthquake. Ko Nakajima lives and works in Tokyo, Japan.

Mio Nakai is a young curator of Japanese 1970s experimental film and video. She received a BFA from the Tokyo Gakugel University in 2015 and a MA from Sotheby’s Institute of Art in 2016. Mio Nakai currently lives in New York.


Seizoki (1964, 4 minutes)
An experimental animation piece made by painting directly on film. It was produced between the solo screenings at Sougetsu Hall.

The Horizon (1971, 7 minutes 30 seconds)
Future is symbolized by the female figure, also representing a goddess of motherland. It represents the horizon of matrilineal society and shows both anxiety and hope at the time of Okinawa Reversion Agreement.

Shinkansen Researching Foods (1975, 10 minutes)
Carrying the rice cooker on the Shinkansen (express train), the group cooks rice between Tokyo and Nagoya. As the train arrives, they start to have a dinner party on the platform.

What is photography? (1976, 10 minutes)
A group turns photo cameras to a naked body, and a video camera intervenes. As it catches up, subject and photographer are intertwined, and soon all the people in the room are naked.

Biological Cycle part1&part5 (1971/1982, 8 minutes)
Nakajima reshoots film footage with video and processes the imagery. This work incorporated old and new technologies, and simulates the cycle of life that continues to evolve.

Dolmen (1987, 6 minutes 18 seconds)
This work takes place in an ancient megalithic cemetery in Carnac, France. Dancers inscribe their patterns on the rocks.

Rangitoto (1988, 16 minutes 30 seconds)
Rangitoto Island in New Zealand emerged hundreds of years ago because of the eruption of an under sea volcano. Green growing from the lava and the Maori culture fly through in the background.

Special Thanks to VIDEOART Center Tokyo.
With the underwriting support of the Robert D. Bielecki Foundation.

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