In the opening of Ko Nakajima’s film “Mt. Fuji” (1984), you feel like you’re inside a Mt. Fuji–themed Rubik’s cube. Images of Japan’s highest mountain in different seasons and at different times of day are checkered across the screen, while more nature images — the mountain and views around it — appear in rectangles passing through the cube. Soon the interior becomes a face of another cube, which hovers in front of even more cubes, as the small, digital images of Mt. Fuji spin and float to the slightly ominous sounds of some string instruments.
Nakajima is a pioneer of video art and computer animation, and in this country, at least, he’s underappreciated. In the early 1970s, the Japanese artist founded Video Earth Tokyo, a network for people making video throughout the country. In 1978, working with Sony, he developed a device called the “Animaker,” which simplified video animations, and in the ’80s, with JVC, the “Aniputer,” a kind of personal computer for making graphics.
That was all in addition to his art, which Microscope Gallery is spotlighting in two screenings. The first, happening this Sunday, May 21, will feature selections from Nakajima’s early film and video work (1964–88), including documentation of Video Earth Tokyo members cooking and eating a meal on a subway platform, “footage of dancers dissolving into French megalithic monuments processed through video synthesizers, and computer-generated spheres arising from the landscape of the volcanic island of Rangitoto in New Zealand,” according to the event description. The second screening (date yet to be announced) will feature the full 90-minute version of “Mt. Fuji,” which showcases Nakajima’s longtime interest in merging technology and nature.
When: Sunday, May 21, 7:30pm ($8)
Where: Microscope Gallery (1329 Willoughby Ave, #2B, Bushwick, Brooklyn)
More info here.