Dirt: '80s Japan Footage / City Pop Nostalgia
Whose imagination is whose?
Daisy sent me this YouTube video of “Japan scenes of daily life in the 80s.” It’s actually a compilation of high-res, restored film footage drawn from fictional movies and documentaries alike, spliced into a supercut. As the YouTube caption describes, “This licensed project aims to bring back the nostalgia of bygone eras.”
That one was just posted, but part 1 has about 200,000 views:
The videos are hypnotic and fascinating, nostalgic indeed, but it’s interesting to me that they curate and weave together different forms of footage while presenting it, more or less, as reality. Of course, movies are more aestheticized and composed than documentary reality. You can try to guess which shots are which by just how artful they are: If it’s too boring or badly lit, it’s probably real.
They pair well with Cat Zhang’s great new feature for Pitchfork on City Pop, that ‘80s Japanese music genre I explored on Dirt previously, highlighting Hiroshi Sato. Zhang describes how the American appreciation for City Pop, driven by algorithmic YouTube recommendations and streaming platforms, turns the genre into something it wasn’t originally: a western vision of ‘80s Japan. From the vantage of today, City Pop’s palette of synthesizers and lounge singers evokes a kind of post-national, late-capitalist utopia, if such a thing were possible.
In the end, none of these artifacts are completely authentic, and none the result of a single gaze, self or other. The stitched-together footage and the remixed, re-uploaded music are the kind of fictions that culture is always producing, the present digesting the past in order to produce something hybrid and new. — By Kyle Chayka
The Dirt: Remix your influences.
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