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PEOPLEText: Satoru Tanno

So, some people who’ve watched SP say it’s a positive film, but some say it’s a negative one…

I know, isn’t that interesting? The film was just there but people can perceive the different angles. And it’s very funny that some people even think the film is (embracing) technology in a positive way. I, as the film maker, feel this film is almost very cynical and makes fun of the cliche of the technology and somehow very critical. But. I did (encounter) a lot of people that consider the film a positive look on technology. It’s interesting to see how people look at the film in different ways.

Are you by any chance planing to take Synthetic pleasures 2?

Oh, no. I think this new movie I’m doing is a little bit of an extension of Synthetic Pleasures 2, but in a different way. A lot people had asked me “Why don’t you make into a series because the subject is so interesting. You could forever keep elaborating on this subject”. But, I just kind of like need different challenges all the time. So, I’m doing this new movie on music. And for me, it’s like a whole new challenge. I wouldn’t just like to stay on one subject forever. But, I encourage people to go ahead and do a Synthetic Pleasures Vol.2.(laugh)

In the future, you said you’re going to take a fictional film in Brazil.

Yeah, that’s another challenge. It’s very different to make documentaries or experimental movies and to (decide) to jump and make a fiction film, this whole different set of rules and regulations how to go about it. So, it would be a challenge. I think once I’m done with this new experimental movie on music, I’ll probably do a fiction film with actors and the whole thing.

I think you must’ve watched a lot of films in your life. Who’s your favourite film director?

Ah, I really like Kurosawa and Ozu.(laugh) They both happen to be Japanese. Ozu is just so deep philosophically. Kurosawa is the same, you know. They are ,for me, very emotional directors that I admire a lot.

In an interview in the past, you mentioned about the idea of a 24 hour pleasure machine, and said, like, it’s nonsense. I believe because we experience bad times, people can enjoy a good time. Things are relative and conditional, not absolute… you know.

I think that’s the thing. That’s the bottom line of everything, you know. People always want to be simplistic and divide things in good and bad, and black and white. It’s not just that simple. I think, especially now, at the end of this millennium, people really started realizing that the distinction between humans and machines, the distinction between reality and hyper reality. What is to be a woman, what is to be a man, all this kind of like cliched values that we’ve been holding as ultimate truth. They are really up for grabs. People are re-evaluating all these concepts. And, I think that’s one of the most interesting things about the movie. That makes people realize that things are not so black and white. I do believe that we live in the gray area. I think that’s what I think is beautiful. We’re reinventing everything. We’re reinventing and re-evaluating all those concepts.

However, the more technology advances, probably the more we desire to enjoy ourselves. In that case, do you think we can ever keep on enjoying ourselves?

Yeah, but there is this danger of pleasuring ourselves to death because I think in a way we’re enjoying too much sometimes.(laugh) And, this desire of control, this desire of perfection, that desire of 100 percent pleasures will defeat the purpose in the sense that, if you’re in orgasm 24 hours a day, then orgasm has no value any more. So, sometime, we have to step back and be careful because it is a problem if we amuse ourselves to death.

I think it’s almost similar to drug abuse, like, the more you feel high, the more you feel depressed when you don’t have it afterwards.

Right, I think human beings have to deal with the fact that we have to accept contradictory things and to just (have one and not the other) makes the world less interesting, you know. If you’re happy all the time, and, if you have pleasure 24 hour a day, that is not pleasure any more. That’s why I use Oscar Wilde’s quote, where he says “Those are the two bad things in life..If you get everything you wish and if you don’t get anything at all; In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”

“Modulations” is a portrait of the technological era of sound. Beginning with Can and Kraftwerk’ industrial folk music, progressing through Detroit techno and Chicago house, and ending with jungle’s beat collages and the hip-hop avant-garde.
Of particular interest is creating a dialogue between the manufacturers and designers of both synthesizers and samplers and the artists who work with them in order to better understand how these machines are used (or abused).
Another goal is to explain the relationships between the work of the original dub producers, hip-hop pioneers and classical minimalists with contemporary electronic musicians with a focus on innovation.
The movie will include in-studio footage with various artists discussing their creative process, live performances from around the world, commentary from academia, and an exploration of dj-ing as an interpretive process of music making.
The aim of “Modulations” is to provide a sense of history and context in which today’s electronic music can be understood; to entertain the converted and to validate ‘techno’ (used here as a very loose term) to the nay-sayers.

Text: Satoru Tanno

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