Part of my contextual inspiration comes from the Brazilian Social documentary photographer and photojournalist Sebastiao Salgado and a project of his called ‘Workers’ (1993)which depicts the kinds of extremities people have to endure in their daily working lives.
From my own commuter drawings over the years, the Commuter Collage Triptych is a nod to Salgado’s work. The masses, compartmentalized, busily and sleepily fill the textured zones.
These past few days I’ve been out on-site (The Tokyo Underground) filming mainly around the Shinjuku area on underground and overground trains. Also, I’ve been using archive footage I took earlier this year, hence passengers in coats, hats and scarves attire.
Although I’m not over-excited with preliminary results, it was essential that I get the ball rolling. Hopefully, these initial experiments will activate new ideas, generate alternative angles and I can gain more impetus over the next few months.
On a different topic though project-related. I’ve noticed how I’ve tended to become more impatient with projects recently. It’s like I DEMAND immediate success for my labour. This has been cluttering my mind for some time now. Is that because of all the overflowing imagery I now see on the Internet every single day? Or is it that everyone and anyone, creative or not has readily available software tools at their disposal? Again, I’m just needlessly ranting to myself as usual.
The Still & The Moving: Video Experiment 1
Footage sequence: 55 seconds. The first video is a combination of conventional footage; train passenger pans and commuters ascending and descending escalators and platform steps. The passenger pans are edited at a conventional 24 frames per second whereas the station commuters are edited at 48 frames per second. I played around with the footage, adding sepia for the passenger pans and threshold film effect for more graphic imagery. The combination didn’t work so I reverted back to the original. At this early stage, I’m observing the chemistry between stationary and animated footage with the intention to capture intensity and calm simultaneously. Overall, visually, the moving vs the still dynamic is too over-whelming and the narrative is too clearly visual (if that makes any sense!). The passenger pans appear to clash against the pacey speeded footage. However, after playing with the graphical imagery, there are some visually interesting components which can be explored.
Satoshi Tomioka was born in Nagoya in Japan in 1972. At graduate school, Tomioka studied hydrodynamics at Tokyo University. He became interested in computer graphics while working part-time for a graphics company. After graduating he worked for Dream Pictures Studios until the studio closed down in 1999. He now works at his own studio Kanaban Graphics which received success for the series Usavich, a series of animated short films for MTV’s Japanese mobile service ‘Flux’.
Sink (1999) was Tomioka’s first film which is based on his own experiences commuting on the Tokyo underground. In the film, Tomioka depicts his subjects (businessmen) in an underwater world. Poking fun at them as they ogle at pornographic imagery. Tomioka’s imagery of the Tokyo metropolis is an extremely vivid and colourful one. Toy-like trains glide through illuminated tunnels. There are some captivating angles taken from inside the train. For example, at 0.54 the scene features the intensity of a packed commuter train so packed, train seats are not evident. Another angle focuses on views of the surrounding cityscape, skyscrapers bearing down on the inhabitants and the ubiquitous advertising hoardings completely mapping vertical structures. Sink portrays aspects typical of Japanese social realism in the 90s. Tomioka’s interpretation of Tokyo commuters is played with tongue and cheek; a society dictated and ruled by businessmen with sexually repressive characteristics living a monotonous existence. Having researched on Tomioka, there are suggestions that the shy and reclusive filmmaker is depicting himself in this manner. There are aspects of the animation I can clearly identify with and I would imagine my project will feature similar viewpoints of Japanese society.