Shuzo Azuchi Gulliver’s Cinematic Illumination

Shuzo Azuchi Gulliver. Cinematic Illumination. 1968–69. 1,350 black-and-white slides, 108 color gels, disco ball, and sound, 114:45 min., looped. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired through the generosity of Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis. Video still, installation view, The Museum of Modern Art, August 27, 2020–February 2021. Video: Oresti Tsonopoulos. © 2020 The Museum of Modern Art
  • MoMA, Floor 4, Studio The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Studio

In 1969, Shuzo Azuchi Gulliver conceived of an immersive moving-image event created by beaming images from 18 slide projectors across the Tokyo discotheque Killer Joe’s. The resulting Cinematic Illumination had the effect of transforming frame-by-frame film projection into a 360-degree environment intended to meld with the sound, lights, and moving bodies in the underground venue. Gulliver created the nearly 1,500 slides from film footage of everyday actions and magazine imagery, imbuing one of the period’s most spectacular multiple projection works with a do-it-yourself attitude.

Gulliver had staged performances since he was a teenager in the Kansai region, before hitchhiking to Tokyo in 1967 with the intent to pursue filmmaking. There, Gulliver joined a vibrant scene in which art was staged outside of gallery spaces and cinema was expanded to multiple projections or moved off-screen entirely. This dynamic interdisciplinary mix unfolded against the backdrop of a booming postwar youth culture that tapped into global psychedelia and ignited critical debates about technology, politics, and Japanese-US relations.

Cinematic Illumination brings the 1960s to life on a large scale, interweaving the international history of avant-garde art, experimental approaches to film, and the meeting of art and technology in nightlife spaces. Experience this spectacular installation, now on view in MoMA’s Kravis Studio, as part of our Virtual Views series, and enjoy an immersive 360° video of the work, a live online Q&A between curator Sophie Cavoulacos and scholar Miwako Tezuka, a Gulliver-inspired playlist by Cibo Matto’s Miho Hatori, and more.

Organized by Sophie Cavoulacos, Assistant Curator, Department of Film.

The exhibition is presented as part of The Hyundai Card Performance Series.

Major support is provided by the Jill and Peter Kraus Endowed Fund for Contemporary Exhibitions.

Generous funding is provided by the Lonti Ebers Endowment for Performance and the Sarah Arison Fund for Performance.

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