Janice Tanaka: Selected Works

1980-81, 26:26 min, b&w and color, sound

Tanaka's Selected Works are richly textured video poems that use appropriated imagery, original footage and dense electronic processing to examine the personal and cultural nexus of what she terms "the contemporary American experience."

In Duality Duplicity, colorized images and poetic text are interwoven with black and white family photographs to form an autobiographical collage that questions self-identity. In Manpower, a bulldozer, a screaming man and a crying baby are among the images that Tanaka combines with a suggestive soundtrack to create an eerie portrait of male strength and weakness. Beaver Valley opens with the image of a cleaver striking a baby doll and the deadpan spoken question, "Wouldn't I make a good mother?" Representations of women on television, in commercials and in Hollywood movies are then intercut with footage of a nude woman, contrasting the female body with the meanings that are projected onto it.

In Mute, fragmented images of the female body, recalling sensuous landscapes, suggest the objectification of women in a culture that renders them silent. In Ontogenesis, Tanaka interweaves electronically altered images of American patriotism — the Statue of Liberty, Uncle Sam, waving flags — with footage of the Vietnam war, bombs dropping, and 1960s political figures (L.B.J. and J.F.K.) to chronicle the progress of American nationalism in the space/nuclear age.

Manpower: Photos: Matt Lloyd.

Ontogenesis: Pinhole Camera Footage: Wayne Fielding. Soundtrack: Rick Meredith.

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