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MCA Screen: Tatsu Aoki, formalism, structuralism, and reduction


Tuesdays are always FREE for Illinois residents.


Tatsu Aoki has been creating experimental films for more than 30 years. Aoki introduces selections from his lesser-seen works on 16 mm and presents the Chicago premiere of his digital work Pages. Jonathan Chen, on electronics, and Jamie Kempkers, on cello, accompany the screenings, creating a live soundscape and improvised music.

The sum of Aoki’s massive filmography is an abstract visual journey of space and time that creates a singular world of waiting and pursuing. His body of minimalist and structuralist films gives shape to his belief in a spiritual paradise that is serene and simple yet full of change and chance.


  • Dream Works, 16 mm (color, sound), 14 min. (1981)

In Dream Works, Aoki uses his hands-on filmmaking method and sense of humor to present a psycho-analysis of the life of his pet cat, which he believes uses dreams to cope with its domestic lifestyle.

  • Decades Passed: Re-Edit, 16 mm (color, sound), 25 min. (2003)

Beginning in the mid-1970s, Aoki kept a film diary of his daily life, saying “I carried super 8 cameras everywhere I went, and my house was surrounded by 13 different cameras. Some cameras were on tripods, some with time-exposure, time-lapse, broken cameras, hand-cranked cameras . . . my life was on the roll and on the reel.” Today, this body of work spans over 25 years, contains hundreds of hours of footage, and constitutes more than a dozen films.

  • Ah So Desuka: Is That So, digital image with live music, 42 min. (2012)

Ah Sou Desuka: Is That So is an abstract visual journey of displacement and diaspora that explores the lives of immigrants hoping to settle in peace and create traditions that connect new landscapes to old roots. An experimental journey of chance and transformation, this new film is presented with live music and soundscape.

Ah Sou Desuka: is that so!, visual scape