Seven Betacam Tapes
Venice Screening Fondazione Prada: September 2

“Tokyo is the core of Japan. A stack of buildings where the most diverse styles coexist in a frenzied balance; the Buddhist Temple or the Shinto Shrine, the Imperial Palace, the futuristic structures and the most sophisticated urban solutions.

In Tokyo, you do not encounter the social truth in the city centre; this essentially does not exist. The city revolves around a ring that is forbidden to everyone: the area encircling the Imperial Palace. Tokyo reality is recognisable at every corner. It is astonishing to highlight how each region is characterised by a peculiar spatial organisation. Japanese people are specialised in creating a little world inside their homes – as in the long-standing “Bonsai” art, where a tiny jar contains an entire landscape with mountain chains, rivers and woods.

Tokyo has arisen from a complex of ancient urban centres. Nowadays, the city directly identifies with its own inhabitants. Rome without Romans remains Rome, New York without New Yorkers remains New York. Tokyo without Tokyoites just vanishes.

The images you will see are stories of a journey that have been shot following one sole standard: more than places, I have looked at people, today’s Japanese.”

Michelangelo Antonioni, Enrica Antonioni
Introduction notes for “Viaggio in Giappone”
“7 Betacam Tapes” in Venice: Works by Michelangelo and Enrica Antonioni

This original project was born out of the interest raised by a 1985 television interview to Michelangelo Antonioni by Gian Luigi Rondi, during which the director makes reference to a research visit inside the Sony video camera factory. Antonioni returns to a factory after shooting Red Desert (1964), and discovers an entirely renewed and unrecognizable industrial environment. The dual relationship between the production of visual technologies and the industrial spaces that house their production lines represents the culmination of an investigation aimed at exploring the confrontation between the director and technological development.

The material that will be put on display consists of seven betacam cassettes. During their stay at the Grand Prince Hotel Aksaska, designed by Kenzo Tange, Michelangelo and Enrica Antonioni were given a new video camera as a gift: the betacam. This novel electronic format recorded the synthesis between the director’s perception and the social and urban reality of Japan. The capital city Tokyo was not new to cinematographic attention, as testified by films like Tokyo Ga (1985) by Wim Wenders and Sans Soleil (1983), by Chris Marker, and was now being shot through a new source of interest. This is precisely the material, filmed in a spontaneous and informal style, that became the object of a documentary entitled Viaggio in Giappone (Trip to Japan), later changed to Un po’ di Giappone (1990) due to the edits requested by the production company.

Transmission of the seven betacam cassettes is intended as a means for encountering and exploring contemporary life. The work is connected with the experimental research of Michelangelo and Enrica Antonioni and private moments of their lives, and cannot be analyzed in a didactic manner. “Japan 1984 – 7 Betacam Tapes” demonstrates how it is possible to participate in a dialogue with a film director, above and beyond the traditional means to experience film. The seven films will be accompanied by a final editing of Un viaggio in Giappone, along with its shortened version Un po’ di Giappone.

During their journey, the directors’ attention was mostly focused on comparing the free, identifying moments of the new generations with the strict, rigid controls exerted by official realities. The couple films and analyzes subcultures, youthful influences connected with the rockabilly and punk movements, the powerful addictions caused by increasingly repetitive marketing strategies and meeting places characterized by games like pachinko. Their trip is transformed into a moment of vivacious ethnographic research, leaving the filmmakers’ experimental and technological anxieties to the brief, never-before-seen footage taken inside the Sony factory. During their visit to the multinational company, the production areas were shot aseptically. A space illuminated by neon lights, and populated by specialized workers dressed in neutral work uniforms who conduct their jobs with surgical precision, surrounded by screens and electronic instruments, instantly transformed into an aesthetic strain of models and tools.

The architecture, completely devoid of recongnizable elements, organized according to rigid work schedules and illuminated bright as day in contemporary offices dominated by television screens, may well represent a portion of the social and political future Antonioni intended to document. How is it possible, in fact, to create a film in a moment in which production and technological development are drastically reducing interpersonal relationships? How is it possible to express the need to translate a synthetic and non-human sensation onto film?

Marzia Marzorati

Japan 1984
7 Betacam Tapes
Michelangelo Antonioni
Enrica Antonioni

Curated by:
Stefano Francia di Celle
Marzia Marzorati

Graphic Design:
Federico Scudeler

Digital platform:

Video Project Manager:
Alvin Mojetta

Film acquisition:
Ranuccio Sodi, Showbiz

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Belligerent Eyes 5k Confinement
is a project by:
Luigi Alberto Cippini
in collaboration with:
Giovanni Fantoni Modena

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