On "Reflected Cinema"

(A Note on the Program)

Takahiko Iimura


In Japan, "movie" is called "eiga" which literally means "reflected picture". This indicates how the man who adapted the word into Japanese regarded movie originally. In English, we say "motion picture" which literally means picture in motion. I prefer the word "eiga: reflected picture" to "motion picture". It is because I am concerned in my films with "reflected cinema" rather than "motion picture".

"Reflected picture" emphasizes a state - not a motion - a state where a picture is reflected through light - not a picture which moves. In such a state, motion could be involved since it covers all situations including motion and non-motion: still.

Once when I talked on "reflected picture," a man in the audience asked me where "reflected picture" meant a passive rather than an active one. I said that the term means neither passive nor active but a state where both are combined like a wave. You cannot separete passive wave from active wage.

I recall a lantern which I saw at a village festival in Japan in my childhood. A lantern covered with screens on which shadows of paper fishes revolved. It was the first time I saw a "movie". In fact, the word "reflected picture," I believe, is deeply rooted in the traditional shadow-picture which had (and has) existed in the East long before movies were invented. In Chinese, "movie" is literally called "electric shadow picture". That explains where movies came from for them. But in Japan, the term "reflected picture" seems to put more emphasis on a state. Screen is a reflection where a film is projected and where it is viewed. The films in this program ("Film Strips I and II," "Cosmic Buddha," "In the River," except "Shutter") were reshot from the screen (either projected or from moviescope). The shooting is a transformation of a projected image on a screen manipulated through time. Thus the films made from a screen have no "real" image but once projected one, in which I see the reality of movie. In other words, "reflected cinema" is projection art. It is in this way that movie exists as art. My works are a state where film is reflected.

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(Anthology Film Archives, New York, 1990)