Vital Signals: Early Japanese Video Art

DVD Anthology + Catalogue Publication

CTG, Kohei Ando, Takahiko Iimura, Keigo Yamamoto, Toshio Matsumoto, Video Earth Tokyo, Mako Idemitsu, Nobuhiro Kawanaka, Katsuhiro Yamaguchi, Norio Imai, Hakudo Kobayashi, Tatsuo Kawaguchi, Saburo Muraoka, Keiji Uematsu, Morihiro Wada
2010, 162 min, color and b&w, sound, DVD

Vital Signals is a survey of the vibrant, interdisciplinary video art scene in Japan in the 1960s and '70s. Produced by EAI, the DVD anthology features sixteen works by fifteen Japanese artists, among them key figures such as Takahiko Iimura, Mako Idemitsu and Toshio Matsumoto. The DVD is accompanied by a 100-page, bilingual (English and Japanese) illustrated catalogue publication. Essays by Barbara London, Glenn Phillips, and Hirofumi Sakamoto draw out the unique art historical and cultural contexts of early Japanese video art, and its relation to film and other visual art forms. The Vital Signals DVD is organized in three parts: The Language of Technology, Open Television, and Body Acts. In technical experiments, activist statements, and conceptual performances, Japanese artists of the 1960s and '70s transformed the intangible—time, gesture, the electronic signal—into rich art-making material. The Vital Signals DVD anthology and catalogue publication illuminate this fertile period of creative engagement in Japan.

Computer Movie No. 2

CTG (Computer Technique Group)

1969, 8 min, b&w, sound<

Image Modulator

Katsuhiro Yamaguchi

1969, 45 sec, color, sound<

Ooi and Environs

Katsuhiro Yamaguchi

1977, 1:30 min, color, sound<


Toshio Matsumoto

1971, 8 min, color, sound<

Oh! My Mother

Kohei Ando

1969, 14 min, color, sound<

Camera, Monitor, Frame

Takahiko Iimura

1976, 17:15 min, b&w, sound<

Hand No. 2

Keigo Yamamoto

1976, 7:50 min, b&w, silent<

Magnetic Scramble

Toshio Matsumoto

1968, 30 sec, b&w, silent<

Under A Bridge

Video Earth Tokyo

1974, 13 min, b&w, sound<

What a Woman Made

Mako Idemitsu

1973, 10:50 min, b&w, sound<

Kick The World

Nobuhiro Kawanaka

1974, 15 min, b&w, sound<


Katsuhiro Yamaguchi

1972, 1:30 min, b&w, sound<


1978-1983, 15:35 min, color, sound<

Lapse Communication

Hakudo Kobayashi

1972-1980, 16 min, color, sound<

Image of Image-Seeing

Tatsuo Kawaguchi; Saburo Muraoka; Keiji Uematsu

1973, 11:20 min, b&w, sound<


1975, 20 min, color, sound<


The Vital Signals anthology and catalogue are available through EAI for use in educational institutions.

While early video art from the U.S. and Europe is internationally recognized, the parallel activities of artists working in Japan—the birthplace of the Portapak, the camcorder, and other innovations—are not widely known. The Vital Signals anthology and catalogue emerge from EAI's touring video exhibition of the same name. Organized by EAI in collaboration with the Yokohama Museum of Art and a team of Japanese curators and scholars, the three-part exhibition program brings together rarely screened early Japanese video alongside seminal American works from the EAI collection. For more information on the Vital Signals touring exhibition, please click here.

Vital Signals was 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. Funding for the DVD anthology and catalogue publication was provided by the Japan-US Friendship Commission.


Please note: This anthology is available for educational use only.