Psyché Tropes Episode 15
11pm, 24 July 2023 on Resonance 104.4FM


Psyché Tropes Episode 15 presented by Steven McInerney features soundtracks taken from some of the most technical and aesthetically sophisticated experimental films from Japan dating as far back as the early 1960's.


Kicking off the programme is the soundtrack to Engram, a 1987 short film directed by Toshio Matsumoto with music conposed by Takashi Inagaki. The film is split into three parts, working with the illusion of motion through a rapid succession of still images in pictorial abstraction. Blurring the lines between documentary, fiction, experimentation and photographic slideshow– Matsumoto's manipulation of the moving image narative through remarkable editing brings the viewer into an everr-shifting distortion of reality.

Next is the soundtrack to Caterpillar, a 1988 short experimental film by Japanese underground filmmaker ShoJin FukaJi made the film at around the same time as when he was working as a crew member for Shinya Tsukamoto's Tetsuo: The Iron Man. Caterpillar's Sound design is a haunting and distopic as it's hyper-kinetic narrative. Both films utilize similar filmmaking techniques such as hyperactive, handheld camerawork and stop-motion photography.

Following on from Caterpilla is of course Tetsuo: The Iron Man is a 1989 cyberpunk body horror film written, produced, edited, and directed by Shinya Tsukamoto with an original soundtrack by Chu Ishikawa This low-budget, underground-production established Tsu-ka-moto internationally and created his worldwide cult following.

The next three sound peices where taken from films by outstanding Japenese experientalist - Takashi Ito. Ito's filmmaking style and interest in experimental film were influenced by his mentor Toshio Matsumoto, under whom Ito learned while a student at the Kyushu Institute of Design.

Ito’s 1982 film Thunder, Shot on 16 mm, features a series of photographic slides of a woman repeatedly covering and uncovering her face with her hands, projected onto the interiors of an empty office building. The images bend and distort against the interior surfaces with a long ribbon of light curling and oscillating through the frame. This effect was produced using long-exposure photography, created frame-by-frame by a person with a flashlight moving throughout the building's rooms during long single-frame exposures.

Ito's 1984 film Ghost depicts spaces in and around an apartment building, utilizing frame-by-frame long-exposure photography. A figure holding a flashlight is sometimes seen, with the beam of the light appearing as trails due to the long exposure.

Spacy from 1981 is a film consisting of 700 continuous 16mm still photographs of a gymnasium. Using a stop motion technique, the camera appears to move throughout the space and into photographs of the gymnasium itself that are displayed across multiple easels, creating a seemingly endless, recursive visual effect.

The penultimate piece of Episode 15 is the soundtrack to the final scene of the 1962 film Pitfall directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara and playing out the episide is the soundtrack of A.I (Love) a 10 minute black and white 16mm film by Takahiko Imura from 1962. Largly considered one of the pioneers of experimental filmmaking in Japan, A.I (Love) is film where porous boundaries of the human form pivot on the faultline of pleasure and pain with sound by Yoko Ono.

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