Super 8 short film ‘Mototanaka Dérive’ (2014)


Michael Lyons (Canada/U.K.) is an artist and researcher based in Kyoto, Japan. He is a Professor of Image Arts and Sciences at Ritsumeikan University. He studied Physics at McGill University (Montreal) and the University of British Columbia (Vancouver) and then worked as a researcher and faculty member at the California Institute of Technology (Pasadena) and the University of Southern California (Los Angeles). After an invitation to participate in a conference in Kyoto in 1996, he became interested in living and working in Japan and subsequently joined the Advanced Telecommunications Research Labs in Kyoto, where he worked on a series of projects including: the cognitive science of facial expression, gesture and expression recognition, human computer interfaces, visual perception of Japanese gardens, with frequent side projects in the media arts. In 2001 he proposed and co-founded ‘NIME’ (New Interfaces for Musical Expression) which continues as a annual international conference and artistic event. A book surveying the first 15 years of the conference is currently in press. In 2007, he was a founding member of the new faculty of Image Arts and Sciences at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, where he continues to teach courses related to the art and technology of sound and image, and runs a seminar in media arts. He is currently on sabbatical in Barcelona where he recently completed a residency at Hangar.org. He is also affiliated with the artist-run Crater Lab in Sant Gervasi.


“A major long-term interest is the social and human aspects of technology and in recent years I have been puzzled and intrigued by the revival of obsolescent technologies such as photochemical filmmaking and analogue modular sound synthesis. After decades of working primarily digitally, in 2013, I decided to investigate this directly engaging in the practices of photochemical filmmaking and synthesizer building. My filmmaking practice makes use of cheaply-purchased cameras and projectors and expired film. I often develop the films by hand, which can add texture and visual poetry to the work. I have also immersed myself in the community of modular synthesizer makers and use self-built synthesizers to make soundtracks for the short films. Through this activity I am gaining insight into the ongoing revival pre-digital technology and have gained new perspective into the social aspects of technological change.

My short films often investigate urban atmosphere and during my residency at Jiwar House, I will be filming in Gràcia and other districts such as Poble Nou, where I often commute for my synthesizer building activity at Hangar. I will be developing these films by hand at the Crater Lab, and I will also be trying to link sound and image using an ‘optisonic’ approach: light sensors are used to allow the films to guide the analogue synthesizer to create generative sound tracks.”


Web Links

Information about my films: http://michaellyons.xyz

Publications about past projects: https://scholar.google.co.jp/citations?user=- HQSlRwAAAAJ&hl=en&oi=ao

Book on new musical interfaces (in press, 2017): http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319472133



A few frames from Super 8 short film ‘Katagami’ (2016)