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Kachō Fūgetsu [Nobumichi Asai, Japan, 2016]

The term ‘Kachō Fūgetsu’ can be literally translated to “flower, bird, wind, moon”. A popular idiom in Japanese culture, taken in its more philosophical sense it means, “Experience the beauties of nature and, in doing so, learn about oneself.” Nobumichi Asai’s Kachō Fūgetsu is very much a continuation from his experiments with face-mapping technology used in Connected Colours (Japan, 2017) and developed later in Prayer (Japan, 2017) and We Pray All Nukes Will Eternally Disappear from the World (Japan, 2017). In all of those films, Asai uses this ground-breaking technology to convey some message of passive protest. Here, the message is more reverential, conveying the inherent beauty of nature through the mixed use of ‘real-time face tracking’ and dance performance, making Prayer perhaps its closest relative.

Still, it seems that here the director was still finding his way with the technology and thus the film lacks the dynamism and vibrancy of his later works. There is a good range of shots capturing the elegance of the model’s figure as she slowly contorts, wearing a flowering yellow dress that billows in a soft breeze. Pair this with extreme close-ups, detailing the clarity of the high definition projections on the performer’s face, and we are left with quite a breathtaking array of wonderfully colourful and expertly rendered images. Much softer in tone to some of his other works, this short film, in many ways, demands the least explanation and allows the visuals to do much of the talking.

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