“Mt. Fuji” takes dozens of photographs of Japan’s iconic mountain (by Kozan Saito) and, with a computer, rotates them through video-space. They rise from a lake, drift through the air like leaves and lodge (with sharp corners) in a field; they are built into tunnels and into cubes that float like U.F.O.’s. At one point, a three-dimensional, topographical rendering of the mountain rotates to reveal a fiery volcanic core. – Jon Parles, The New York Times, 1986
Microscope Gallery is extremely pleased to present as the final night in a two-part series of works by the Japanese video and computer animation pioneer Ko Nakajima the full 90-minute version of his most well known work “Mt. Fuji”, made in 1984. While the 20-minute version has previously screened in the US – including in the 1986 program “New Video: Japan” as part of “Close Up of Japan, New York 1985-86” at the Museum of Modern Art and the subsequent traveling program, among others – the original version of the work has rarely, if ever, been shown in the US. A 7-minute long “short version” also exists.
“Mt. Fuji” involves animations and computer graphic manipulations of hundreds of photographs of the Japan’s highest mountain and cultural icon generated on the “aniputer”, a portable machine designed by Nakajima and created in collaboration with the Japan Victor Company (JVC) in 1982. This personal animation computer allowed him to manipulate, combine, distort, superpose, and embed images within computer generated objects moving through the three-dimensional plane of imagery shot in real life.
“Mt. Fuji” is also the first in a cycle of three stand-alone works by Nakajima, each representing Taoist elements, with Mount Fuji signifying Earth. Two other works “Dolmen” (1987) representing Stone and “Rangitoto” (1988) representing Fire, were screened in Part 1 of this series. Versions of “Mt. Fuji” can be found in collections including MoMA in New York and Centre Pompidou in Paris.
by Ko Nakajima
single-channel video, color, sound, 1984, 90 minutes
Using photographs of Mt. Fujiama by Kozan Saito
Music by Tsutomu Yamashita
General admission $8
Members and students w/ ID $6
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. 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 to the public and led to the production of his best known work “Mt. Fuji”. 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.