Friday, July 20, 2012

video: silver wheel

Jinkken Kobo, Ginrin (Silver Wheeel), 1953

Founded in 1951, with the nuclear shadows of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still looming and the Aliied occupation and its attandant austerity measures just winding to a close Jikken Kobo )or the Experimental Workshop) ushered in a new era of the Japanese culural lanscape. Jikken Kobo has been compared to Black Mountain College and the Independent Group as one of the three most influential collaborative groups of the 20th century. But, exactly 60 years after their first concert, Jikken Kobo’s activities remain largely unknown. The group consisted of 14 core members whose specialities were particularly wide-ranging, encompassing choreography, musical composition, lighting design, various fine art practices, poetry, engineering and criticism.  Although they were known for their experimental and collaborative approaches, the members of Jikken Kobo divided themselves into roughly two camps, both of which mixed Western influences with Japanese perspective: the art section (which comprised Katsuhiro Yamaguchi, Shozo Kitadai, Hideka Fukushima, Hideo Yamazaki, Naoji Imai, Kiyoji Ohtsuji, and Tetsuro Komai) and the muscis section (which comprised Kuniharu Akiyama, Toru Takemitsu, Hiroyoshi Suzuki, Kazuo Fukushima, Joji Yuasa, Takahiro Sonoda, and Keijiro Sato).  Like the artists of the Bauhaus and groups like Experiments in Art and technology (E.A.T) subsequently, the members of Jikken Kobo were interested in integrating new industrial technologies into their elaborate trans-disciplinary performances and events. For example, they experimented with new forms of electronic music and produced the world's first synchronized audio slideshow (with the help of technicians who would eventually incorporated under the name SONY). In 1955, a number of Jikken Kobo members participated in the production of the film Ginrin (Silver Wheel) as promotional material for Japanese bicycle industry. Ginrin's hypnotically spinning, disembodied bicycle wheels echo Marcel Duchamp's ready made Bicycle Wheel (1913). Both advertisement and reverie, the film embodies the technological and cultura optimism that accompanied the rapid expansion of the Japanese economy following the hardships of the second World war and postwar occupation. The film is now on show as a part of Ghost in the machine exhibition in New Museum N.Y.

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