By José Sarmiento Hinojosa
Made somewhere between Sway (1985) and Engram (1987), 1986 Summer can be considered a transitional work that carries many of the elements of latter-period Matsumoto. For many, Matsumoto is the author behind the masterpiece Funeral Parade of Roses, but little more is popular on his experimental work through the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Many titles such as For the Damaged Right Eye, Atman or Engram carry out a variety of styles, manifestations and intentions, different classifications of the author’s obsessions and milestones of cinema in their own right.
The images in 1986 Summer move in the limbo of what is cinema and what is real. There’s not much use to describe what particularly happens here, instead, we should abstract our own perception of what’s real, imagine a realm of the world in which the frame rate of the eye isn’t enough to capture the interstices where these phantom images inhabit. This was a constant preoccupation in the latter work of Matsumoto: try to inhabit a common ground beyond what we see and what escapes the eye, this insistence of the image of being ever present and yet elude our perception. We see trees, a building (a building that returns in Engram and whose presence eludes me), for very brief moments the image of a woman. Yet every single image of this belongs in limbo, it is permanently suspended in between iterations, maybe in different universes where the reality of these images is forever present.
Matsumoto uses a painstaking method of editing to replicate the manifestation of flicker, thus the aggressive repetition which affects the eye. It is a warm film, however, it does replicate the sensation of a summer but in it’s own particular way, trying to meddle in the spaces of memory and explode in a million situations which overlap with each other. It is a tree, but there’s also multiple trees, the ones which eludes us, the ones present, the new ones that are a representation of the multiple exposure. The nostalgia is ever present, it is a memory of summer beyond the structural format. It’s a manifestation of the moving image, the cinematic, 24 frames per second in full flux.
Reminiscent of Rose Lowder’s Bouquets series (although more in method that in signification), 1986 Summer and other films of his latter period, will depict properly this obsession of Matsumoto of decoding the hidden secret behind the moving image. A high point of his work, and a magnificent late discovery, a master in use of his most relevant elements and an ever present idea: cinema as a Schrodinger cat’s experiment.
WAVELENGTHS 2: ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL
Director: Toshio Matsumoto