Initially daily but now sporadic blog about anime and world animation with a specific focus on the artists behind the work. Written by Ben Ettinger.
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Archives for: September 2004, 10

Friday, September 10, 2004

11:05:00 pm , 857 words, 3747 views     Categories: Animation, Indie

Loose ends

I wasn't too keen on Uruma Delvi when I saw their piece within the context of Winter Days, but I admit I enjoyed the various films they've put up on the web.

I discovered a major omission in my previous post on the early independents:

Keiichi Tanaami 田名網敬一
Born 1936 in Tokyo.

He has not only been one of the most prolific creators of experimental animated films since his debut at the second Animation Festival in 1965; he is also the only one of the artists showcased in VIFF's Imagination Practice to have participated in Animactions!!the Animation Festivals, providing a link between the old and the new generation of independents, the latter of whom otherwise dominate the program.

After participating in most of the Animation Festivals with entries like 1964's Ten Nights' DreamsMasked Marionettes 仮面のマリオネットたち and 1966's Woman おんな, in 1975 he became the artistic director of the Japanese edition of Playboy, the daring and challenging artistic content of which established his renown as one of the major artists of the day. Design has since been his main area of activity -- he has done a lot of LP and now CD covers --, but he has been one of the most broad-ranging artists of his generation.

Known as the "Japanese Peter Max", he has been the major proponent of the psychedelic art school. His art is characterised by its sexy, colorful, pop-influenced designs infused with a playful, avant-garde sensibility. He got a promising start with an ambitious exhibition of "metallic art" made by scratching, coloring and using chemicals to dissolve steel plates while still studying at the Musashino Art School, and upon graduation he entered the big advertising agency Hakuhodo, only shortly to quit and embark on his personal artistic journey.

He first published a series of picture books, and immediately afterwards participated in the Animation Festival. Ever since, he has been a prolific independent animator, usually producing several films a year. His films have been shown at festivals around the world from Overhausen to Edinburgh. He has gone on to produce his own distinctive body of work in various media including painting, illustration, printing, editorial design, posters, etc. Even performance art plays a large part in his oeuvre.

In addition, Tanaami has authored numerous books; one of his latest is a collection of his lectures given at the Kyoto Plastic Arts School, where he teaches animation. His poster art and other design work has been exhibited at dozens of galleries over the years, the most recent being Disco University at Kirin Plaza Osaka, organized by omniartist Naohiro Ukawa (who has done music videos for the Boredoms, among many other things). The vibrant, youthful spirit of his work makes him a popular figure among the new generation of artists in Japan.

In recent years he has made numerous animated films in collaboration with graphic artist Nobuhiro Aihara 相原信洋, the most famous being a series of "animation battles" made by a rather original shiritori-type collaborative process wherein each takes turns at the canvas, drawing over or erasing what the other has just drawn -- a tense artistic confrontation made possible by the trust they've built up over their long friendship.

One of their more unique collaborations took place earlier this year on May 10 at a "live painting" event entitled Animactions!!, where the two in effect became the animated content as they were filmed by the aforementioned Naohiro Ukawa painting side by side with fluorescent paint on several huge black-light canvases.

The VIFF is screening not only the most recent of the aforementioned "battles", but also one of Aihara Nobuhiro's solo films. Aihara himself has had a long career as an animator. He started out in commercial animation at Studio Zero working as an animator alongside the likes of Shin'ichi Suzuki on shows like Kaibutsu-kun, and went independent in 1965. Since then he has produced more than sixty short animated films that have been shown around the world at various festivals. He has also participated in animation workshops in places like Sweden and India. Like Tanaami, he is currently a professor of animation at the Kyoto Plastic Arts School.

Along with Yoji Kuri, Keiichi Tanaami is one of the few of the early independents rather well represented on DVD. Two DVDs collecting 15 of his animated films made from 1975-2002 were released a year ago. In addition, a 2-DVD set of his films with Aihara (including Animactions!!) was released this past July. Both of the films being shown at the VIFF are available in these sets.

Partial filmography of Keiichi Tanaami:

1971 ◈ Commercial War (4 mins 30 secs)
1973 ◈ Oh! Yoko! (4 mins)
1975 ◈ Why (10 mins 30 secs)
1975 ◈ Easy Friday 優しい金曜日 (14 mins)
1975 ◈ Manmade Eden 人工の楽園 (14 mins)
1975 ◈ 4 Eyes (9 mins)
1979 ◈ Another Rainbow-Colored City もう一つの虹色都市 (17 mins 17 secs)
1979 ◈ Yoshikei (16mm, 12 mins)
2000 ◈ Memory of Darkness, Dream of Shadow 闇の記憶・夢の陰影 (4 mins)
2001 ◈ Breath of Wind 風の呼吸 (4 mins, w/Nobuhiro Aihara)
2002 ◈ Summer Gaze - 1942 夏の視線 - 1942 (6 mins)
2002 ◈ Memories (6 mins)
2002 ◈ Goldfish Fetish (8 mins)
2002 ◈ Running Man (6 mins, w/Nobuhiro Aihara)
2002 ◈ Why? Remix (video, 10 mins)
2003 ◈ Puzzle of Autumn (DV, 6 mins)

Partial filmography of Nobuhiro Aihara:

1971 ◈ Poisonous snake やまかがし
1973 ◈ Aisanka 逢仙花
1976 ◈ Cloud thread 雲の糸
1980 ◈ Water wheel 水輪
1987 ◈ Shadow 映像(かげ)
1991 ◈ Mask
1994 ◈ Air power 気動
1998 ◈ Yellow Fish
2004 ◈ Memory of Red (16mm, 4 mins)

Animation Battles:

2002 ◈ Scrap Diary (16mm, B&W, 4 mins)
2003 ◈ Fetish (16mm, 4 mins)
2004 ◈ Landscape (16mm, 4mins 25 secs)
2004 ◈ 10 Nights' Dreams (16mm, 6 mins)