Between Frames: Japanese Cinema at the Digital Turn
Abstract: This article explores how the appearance of composite media arrangements and the prominence of the cinematic mechanism in Japanese film are connected to a nostalgic preoccupation with the materiality of the filmic image, and to a new critical function for film-based cinema in the digital age. Many popular Japanese films from the early 2000s layer perceptually distinct media forms within the image. Manipulation of the interval between film frames—for example with stop-motion, slow-motion and time-lapse techniques—often overlays the insisted-upon interval between separate media forms at these sites of media layering. Exploiting cinema’s temporal interval in this way not only foregrounds the filmic mechanism, but it in effect stages the cinematic apparatus, displaying it at a medial remove as a spectacular site of difference. In other words, cinema itself becomes refracted through these hybrid media combinations, which paradoxically facilitate a renewed encounter with cinema by reawakening a sensuous attachment to it at the very instant that it appears to be under threat. This particular response to developments in digital technologies suggests how we might more generally conceive of cinema finding itself anew in the contemporary media landscape.