Japanese + American Video Art from the 1960s and 70s

July 2009 - November 2010

The introduction of the first consumer-grade video recorder, the Sony "Portapak," in the mid-1960s contributed to a fertile period of creative exploration, as artists and activists engaged with the new video technology. Video by artists based in the U.S. and Europe in the 1960s and '70s, including Nam June Paik, Joan Jonas and Bruce Nauman, is well known internationally. Until now, however, the parallel activities of artists working in Japan, the birthplace of the camcorder and other video technologies, have been screened only rarely. Using a familiar tool kit, these artists explored the nascent medium in unique and innovative ways.

Vital Signals, a program of early video art from the U.S. and Japan, highlights the parallel developments in these countries during the 1960s and '70s. Organized by EAI, in collaboration with the Yokohama Museum of Art and a team of Japanese curators and scholars, the three-part screening program brings together rarely screened early Japanese video alongside seminal works from the EAI Collection. Vital Signals is currently touring the U.S. and Japan. On November 14, 2009, the program will be presented at the Japan Society in New York, which will feature a special discussion moderated by Barbara London, Curator of Video and Digital Media, Museum of Modern Art, with artist Takahiko Iimura and an American artist (TBD), both of whom are featured in the screening program.

An accompanying catalogue and DVD compilation of the Japanese works from this series will be published by EAI at the end of the year.


Screening schedule


Hiroshima Museum of Contemporary Art - July 18, 19, 20, 2009
1-1 Hijiyama Koen, Minami-Ku, Hiroshima, 732-0815

Tohoku University of Art and Design - November 11, 18, 25, 2009
200 Kamisakurada, Yamagata, 990-9530

Yokohama Museum - November 21, 22, 23, 2009
Minato mirai 3-4-1, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa prefecture, 220-0012

Aichi Arts Center - December 2, 3, 4, 2009
1-13-2 Higashisakura, Higashi-ku Nagoya-shi, Aichi 462-8525

Waseda University - January 14, 15, 2010
1-104 Totsukamachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 169-8050
Nihon University - January 22, 2010
Asahigaoka, Nerima-ku, Tokyo, 176-8525
Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, Photography Center - May 6, 8, 9
12-8 Ueno Koen, Daito-ku, Tokyo, Japan 110-8714
May 6, 6:30 pm: Lecture, discussion and catalogue launch with with artist Takahiko Iimura and Yukie Kamiya, Chief Curator, Hiroshima MoCA.
May 8-9 (time TBA) - Screenings

Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art - February 5, 6, 7, 2010
Kita 1, Nishi 17, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, 060-0001

Ritsumeikan University - March 26, 27, 28, 2010
Kinugasa Campus 56-1, Toji-in Kitamachi, Kita-ku, Kyoto 603-8577


Aurora Picture Show - September 17, 2009
1524 Sul Ross, Houston, TX 77006

Los Angeles
LACMA - October 6, 13, 20, 2009
5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036
2010 Society for Cinema & Media Studies Conference - March 20, 2010
The Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites
404 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071
Q & A with Professor Hirofumi Sakamoto following the screening.

New York
Japan Society - November 14, 2009
333 East 47th Street, New York, NY 10017
Millenium Film Workshop - December, 2009
66 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - February 5, 6, 20, 2010
Avenue of the Arts 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115

Berks Filmmakers Inc. - March 23, 2010
Albright College Center for the Arts
J. Warren Klein Memorial Lecture Hall, 13th & Exeter St., Reading, PA 19604
Artist Taka Iimura will be present.


University of London - One-day exhibition on March 4, 2010
Wimbledon College of Art, Merton Hall Road, London SW19 3QA

South Korea

Platform Seoul Festival - November 5 -21, 2010


The Language of Technology (88:30 min)

In both Japan and the U.S., the earliest examples of video art exploited the technical possibilities unique to the new medium, such as image manipulation and instantaneous playback. This program shows the diversity of works produced, ranging from the minimalist algorithmic animations of Japanese collective Computer Technique Group (CTG) and Nam June Paik's Digital Experiment at Bell Labs, to the intricate layering of images in Ando Kohei's Oh My Mother.

Nam June Paik
Digital Experiment at Bell Labs, 1966, 4:40 min

Computer Movie No.2, 1969, 8 min

Gary Hill
Electronic Linguistics, 1977, 3:40 min

Toshio Matsumoto
Metastasis, 1971, 8 min

Katsuhiro Yamaguchi
Image Modulator (Document of the installation), 1969(Revised), 0:45 min
Ooi and Environs (Document of the installation), 1977, 1:30 min

Toshio Matsumoto
Mona Lisa, 1973, 3 min

Keigo Yamamoto
Breath No.3, 1977, 6 min

James Byrne
Both, 1974, 3:38 min

Keigo Yamamoto
Hand No.2, 1976, 7:50 min

Takahiko Iimura
Camera, Monitor, Frame, 1976, 17:15 min

Kohei Ando
Oh! My Mother, 1969, 13 min

Morihiro Wada
The Recognition Construction, 1975, 20 min (10 min excerpt)


Open Television (115:26 min)

The accessibility of video, and the novelty of the new medium, stoked widespread interest among artists, activists, grassroots organizations and commercial industry alike. In Japan, the collective Video Hiroba used video to document and comment on current social and political events. In the U.S., collectives such as TVTV (Top Value Television) produced their own "guerilla television," a form of independent television production advocated by TVTV founder Michael Shamberg in his influential book Guerrilla Television (1971). These individuals and collectives saw video as a way to directly engage with culture, and with media that had previously been closed to them.

Nam June Paik and Jud Yalkut
Waiting for Commercials, 1966-72, 1992, 6:35 min

Fujiko Nakaya
Friends of Minamata Victims - Video Diary, 1971-72, 21 min

Toshio Matsumoto
Magnetic Scramble (Document of the Performance from the "Funeral Parade of Roses"), 1968, 0:30 min

Chris Burden
The TV Commercials 1973-1977, 1973-77/2000, 3:46 min

Four More Years, 1972, 61:28 min (23:06 min excerpt)

Saburo Muraoka, Tatsuo Kawaguchi and Keiji Uematsu
Image of Image - Seeing, 1973, 12:30 min (11:20 min excerpt)

Ko Nakajima
My Life, 1976~92, 22 min (5 min excerpt)

Allan Kaprow
Hello, 1969, 4:45 min

Fujiko Nakaya
Old People's Wisdom, 1973, 10:30 min

Shirley Clarke
The Tee Pee Video Space Troupe: The First Years (Part 1), 1970-71, 4:50 min

Video Earth Tokyo
Under A Bridge, 1976, 13 min

Video Information Center
La Argentina, 1977, 70 min (5 min excerpt)


Body Acts (89:15 min)

Performance documentation has been one of video's most significant contributions to art history. Beyond merely documenting and archiving performances, video technology was often used by artists as an extension of physical and emotional gestures. Video also served as a way for artists to challenge and extend traditional definitions of the art object. Cigar Lexicon by John Baldessari merges Baldessari's project of compiling a "dictionary of images" with his strategy of defining an object's quintessence through the continued repetition of an action. Comparatively, the process documented by Hakudo Kobayashi's Lapse Communication is the gradual breakdown of a rigid conceptual conceit, in this case a series of imitated gestures that degenerate into nonsensical movements.

Joan Jonas
Left Side Right Side, 1972, 8:50 min

Takahiko Iimura
Observer/Observed, 1975-76, 20min (8:45 min excerpt)

James Byrne
Translucent, 1974, 2:15 min

Norio Imai
Digest of Video Performance 1978-1983, 1978-83, 15:35 min

William Wegman
Selected Works Reel 1, 1970-72, 30:38 min (8 min excerpt)

Katsuhiro Yamaguchi
Eat (Document of the Performance), 1972, 1:30 min

Ante Bozanich
I Am the Light, 1976, 3:57 min

Mako Idemitsu
What a Woman Made, 1973, 10:50 min

Paul McCarthy
Black and White Tapes, 1970-75, 32:50 min (5 min excerpt)

John Baldessari
How We Do Art Now (Cigar Lexicon), 1973, 12:54 min (6 min excerpt)

Hakudo Kobayashi
Lapse Communication, 1972 (Revised 1980), 16 min

Nobuhiro Kawanaka
Kick the World, 1974, 15 min

Vito Acconci
Flour/ Breath Piece, 1970, 3 min


About EAI

Founded in 1971, Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) is one of the world's leading nonprofit resources for video art. A pioneering advocate for media art and artists, EAI's core program is the distribution and preservation of a major collection of over 3,500 new and historical media works by artists. EAI fosters the creation, exhibition, distribution and preservation of video art and digital art. EAI's activities include a preservation program, viewing access, educational services, extensive online resources, and public programs such as artists' talks, exhibitions and panels. The Online Catalogue is a comprehensive resource on the artists and works in the EAI collection, and also features extensive materials on exhibiting, collecting and preserving media art:

Electronic Arts Intermix
535 West 22nd Street, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10011
(212) 337-0680 tel
(212) 337-0679 fax


Vital Signals has been organized and produced by Ann Adachi of EAI. The video programs were curated by Ann Adachi and Yukie Kamiya, Chief Curator, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Hiroshima, Japan, and Hirofumi Sakamoto, Professor, Wakkanai Hokusei Gakuen University, Hokkaido, Japan. The Japanese screenings and lectures were organized by Shintaro Matsunaga, Curator, Yokohama Museum, Yokohama, Japan, with the assistance of Akihito Nakanishi, Cultural Affairs Assistant, U.S. Embassy, Tokyo.

This program is supported, in part, by the U.S. Embassy, Tokyo and the Japan-US Friendship Commission.