With your collaboration with Yasunao Tone on Onan (1964), you turned film into an interactive medium when Tone performed the projector like a musical instrument. Music is often cited as what all art aspires to be. In what ways has music inspired your work?
Though Tone made the music for Onan, it was not this 16mm film, but earlier 8mm films I’d made that he provided the projector score to in 1963. Tone and some other were in Group Ongaku, which explored the possibilities of chance music. I used the projector as if it were a musical instrument by freezing frame, carrying the projector around the venue and projecting images against walls, on faces and on peoples’ clothes as well as onto myself. Each time I did something different, which enhanced the sense of performativity. I tried to conceive the screening of film as a parallel phenomenon to a live music performance. Both film and music are recordable, whereas music is placed onto vinyl or CDs and films onto DVDs, which can all be manufactured on a mass scale. The screenings of these films were an attempt to recapture the performative essence of film exhibition, a way to resuscitate its dynamism that was disappearing as cinema increasingly became a ready-made product like tinned cans. I still collaborate with musicians for some of my performances.
About those earlier films from “The Collected Writings of Takahiko Iimura”
from the beginning, I have been very much concerned with working with film as a medium, but also with film as a “live” event in contrast to film as “canned.”
The first such performance I had was in Tokyo in 1963, at the legendary Naiqua Gallery, the birth place of Neo-Dad. I called it “Film Concert” and worked with a composer, Yasunao Tone (who lives in New York now). What I did was use a silent 8mm projector as an instrument for projection, which has a device of variable speed, freeze frame, reversing film, out/ in of focus, frame adjustment and even bulb projection without lens. Occasionally I burned the frame using the freeze frame. The composer made a graphic score for these actions, and I, and the projectionist, freely interpreted it. Though various films were used for performance, most often used was a 8mm film, DADA62, a Dadaist document of a Neo-Dada exhibition in 1962 thus called DADA62 Performed (1962)