Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I.C.R.N. Paper 1: Heinrich Deisl "Your Body Is A Battleground"

We present the first in a series of papers by I.C.R.N. members and guests.

»Your Body Is A Battleground«: Lust-Machines, Cyberflesh and Man-Meat in the Film TETSUO

Heinrich Deisl / TEXT. Summer 2004

i) The Crisis of the Postmodern Body
ii) But what’s a Cyborg?
iii) The Man-Machine-Interaction: An Iconography of Waste
iv) Sa, Koi!: Holes, Loops, Transformations and Sex exemplified

It is not really true that the Japanese film »Tetsuo« doesn’t have a plot. It has, certainly. But this plot is extremely vague and irritating, yet rhizomatic and appealing, it is highly complex and full of references and allusions and allows a broad range of interpretations. Because of its release in 1989, the film stands in the middle of an historical development where we have »Neuromancer« on the one hand and the common use of Internet on the other. — A car-crash changes the life of an ordinary Business Man from Tokyo from ground. He starts to transform himself into a hybrid of man and metal, he changes to a Cyborg. His Alter ego who is a fetishist of metal terrorizes him. As a showdown, they melt together to form one big hybrid to take the world over. »Tetsuo« has become a cult (underground) movie. A shortening saying goes like: The 80s started with »Eraserhead« (1976) by David Lynch and ended with »Tetsuo« in 1989. »Tetsuo« can be seen as the first part in a four-part-series of Tsukamoto’s in-deep occupation with topics like (altered) bodies, violence and destruction. These films are: »Tetsuo II – Metal Hammer« (1992), »Tokyo Fist« (1995) and »Gemini« (1999).

1 The Crisis of the Postmodern Body

Since the Industrial Age, when societies started to build machines as an extension of manpower for more efficiently working processes, the body has become everything. Man has long been fascinated by the idea of automata, or externalised machines taking the form of a human being, and their potential to be an ideal counter-concept that can overcome the numerous limitations we as organic structures have been unable to conquer. Scientists have made big steps in exploring the human body, its functions, its specifics. It seems, no secret can be kept against the very impulse of science and technology to make the body transparent, as it is believed that in doing so we would understand better of what’s going on with us and inside us. The human body has become a high-tech-laboratory, medicine, biology, psychoanalysis and many other disciplines scrutinize bodily functions: The body has become readable, it can be decoded, can be put in a certain framework which clarifies most of the parameters that arrange »us«. The functions of the body can be described by the functions of machines; the body can be divided into 1 and 0, into a double helix, a neuronal and a blood-system etc. It seems that the body is an ensemble of mathematical codes and rules.
It was in 1946 when the great German scientist Robert Wiener coined the term »Cybernetics«. His mathematically driven definitions of a Man-Machine-Interface have become the basis for further research concerning of how we could imagine our living-together with representations of »ourselves«, of machine-based »Alter egos«. Books like Douglas R. Hofstaedter’s »Gödel, Escher, Bach – An Eternal Golden Braid« from 1979 may be as useful as William Gibson’s »Neuromancer« from 1984 to help defining the topic of this conference. Here it was, the term »Cyberspace«. From now on, the »nonspaces of the mind« (William Gibson), opposed to a world that was run by tactile impulses, could be named and came into existence.
Finally a term was found which would describe the relation between human beings and their avatars, their machine-mediated replications. Cyberspace, Artificial Intelligence, Cyberculture,… All these are expressions that explore the relation between organic and non-organic entities. As most of the times, the more appealing is the space in-between, the semi species: So hundreds of films and thousands of books were produced in order to find out more about hybrids, about new forms of existence. For science, these crossbreeds are a very thrilling field of research, it is an area, where one can make science out of science fiction. It can mean the fulfilment of all wishes to practically »melt« with technology, it could be an apotheosis of Eros and Techné.
These hybrids have many highly erotic components available as they take the best from both the organic and the non-organic world. Sigmund Freud criticized the zeitgeist of constructivism as a way of to search for a »prosthesis god«. In the same period Vannevar Bush, one of the very first computer scientists, started his descriptions of mechanized tools that later would collide in the ideas of the memex[1], thus providing topologies for to understand computers as a superswitch which would work like a prosthenos – an extension.
In all this technological process, it is important to remember the close connection between high-end information-/ communication-research and the military. Allucquère Rosanne Stone points out how deeply most of the branches root in military research by clarifying in an unique way: »Sooner or later we can trace any funding back to government sources; if we include MIT, which has always been heavily funded by military budgets, there is almost no one working in the field [of virtual systems; H.D.] today whose original research is not or was not funded by military money.«[2]
Let’s change the focus towards cultural and popcultural implications. Since the period of Industrialisation – and even long before since the time of enlightenment – it has become a commonly used practice to insert metal-parts into a functioning body to enrich his/ her capacities in order to become in whatever way more »efficient«. Efficiency has become a keyword in nowadays communication-practice: We all should have undergone military-like training camps if we wanted to run a company, no time to go more into detail as there is so much else to do, as the latest developments could be named: acronyms, emoticons and SMS.
Some of the art forms at the beginning of the last century aimed explicitly at suggestions concerning body-modifications through technology. Think of the Italian Futurist movement and the German and Russian Constructivists, just to name the most relevant ones. The first movie about robots became one of the best known: »Metropolis« by Fritz Lang. This film clearly became a blueprint for the popcultural approach in Cyberculture. At the same time, Mary Shelley’s »Frankenstein«[3] broadened the field of discussion with its poignant story of the introduction of self-questioning of the capacities and limitations of the human body and his/ her technical transformation towards a certain goal. In Japan, these ideas fell on a fruitful ground as here the dichotonomy of the apotheosis of technology on the one hand and a very roots-orientated spirituality on the other configure a set of extremes unknown to westerners.[4]
In terms of film, the time of the Cold War was a very active period in overcoming the trauma of the A-bomb in films like those of »Godzilla«.[5] Whereas the 30s and 40s were the »classical« period for a new wave science fiction (just think of all the innovations related to World War II), the 50s and 60s anticipated a basis of thoughts that allowed popcultural articulations to merge with discourses of technology and vice versa. 1989, the release-date of »Tetsuo«, suggests that the film came out on the edge of complex sociological, historical and technological developments: Cyberspace had already been created and colonized, but there were no widespread home-user computer-applications yet. The whole discourse of cyberspace was at that time in a state of development where many things still could happen, cyberspace had not been »incorporated« yet. From what I could imagine, at that time (1984) cyberspace for most users and consumers (just) meant a white spot in the landscape of illusions, an alternative icon in time and space, similar to strategies of catharsis and other tactics of to get over reality. In popculture, the construction of (non-)reality/-ies and its values a.k.a. socialisation as a strategy for identification cannot be underestimated. Although cybernetics since the 50s have left a philosophical and technical landmark in providing arguments for the organisation of feedback in (non-)organic systems, the gap between theory and praxis in popcultural structures had to be left open until the mid-90s, when multi-tasking computers had spread deeply into the subconsciousness of collective societies.
But »Tetsuo« is connected to cyberspace on a much more rudimentary level. The link towards cyberspace is its »Man-Machine-Interaction«. Even if the topic of the Cyborg is paradigmatic for these kinds of films, »Tetsuo« more refers to classical performance-acting and to postures known from theatrical contexts than it does to comics or its Japanese version, the Mangas or the Animé-Films. The film found its closest feedback in terms of nowadays cinema in »Electric Dragon 80.000V«, a film which was released in 2000 and was directed by Shinya Tsukamoto’s former teacher Sogo Ishii.
Speaking of music, references go in the direction of English Industrial Music, mostly widespread by the beginning of the 80s and the Electronic Body Music, mainly generated in Belgium couple of years later. In these musical movements, the body highly was put into question: the philosophical and political implications partly rendered expressions of atrocious art. With their emphasis on the transformation of the body via alternative settings of communication, Industrial Music can be rooted back to the constructivist and situationist movements and to the Viennese art circle of the Aktionisten. Bands like Clock DVA[6] functioned as a crossing point between the ages: For the album »Man-Amplified« (1992) the cover showed a collage by El Lissitzky and the band sang a.o. about the misuse of information by official institutions in cyberspace. »Man-Amplified« can be seen as a »lost continent« in the treatment of »Tetsuo«. Both articulations have in common that they point out the transformation of man into a semi-organic creature. Might it be that their intensions differ, both absorb big influences from the constructivist movement of how to treat technology and what to do with it for the use and misuse of distorted bodies.

2 But what’s a Cyborg?

The word »Cyborg« (cybernetic organism) devised by Dr. Manfred Clynes and Nathan Kline, define a Cyborg as »An exogenously extended organizational complex, functioning as a homeostatic system.« Along with other computer experts Dr. Clynes believes that intelligence need not be confined to the DNA structure. He also believes that life is more a matter of relationships and organizations than of material. Clynes points out an under-standing of the nature of our thoughts in terms of their mathematical, electronic and time-space identities which will permit us to communicate better than we do at the present time, we may find new shapes and discover means of utilizing them to communicate in entirely new ways, ways that cannot presently be imagined.[7]

Cyborgs are cybernetic organisms, hybrids of machine and organism, they are creatures of sociologic realities as well as of those of fiction. Sociologic reality, i.e. actively lived social relations, is our most important political construct, a world-changing fiction. […] we are Cyborgs. Cyborgs are our ontology. They define our politics. The Cyborg is a compressed picture of our imaginative and material reality, both of them are centres connected to each other from where historical changes of transformation emerge. Cyborgs are couplings between organism and machine, each conceived as coded devices, in an intimacy and with a power that was not generated in the history of sexuality[8]

The concept of the Cyborg has become a bit blurred. If we think of a person equipped with a data-glove and simulation-glasses for Virtual Reality, it that already a Cyborg? Is a Cyborg necessarily connected to digital computer logics?
Some bodies look as if they would be in an organic metamorphosis (»The Fly«, »eXistenZ«, »Tetsuo«), some have put their bodies into a metallic exterior because of some handicaps, as seen in »Terminator«, »Blade Runner«, »Robocop« and »Star Wars« (Darth Vader). In between there are mix-forms ranging from the Manga »Akira« to the horror-slasher »Hellraiser«. Bodies into a metallic exterior are perfect incarnations of an effective state-apparatus as they represent the power of a certain system, whether to defend or to destroy other systems. On the contrary, the concept of metamorphosis represents individualistic attitudes and can be seen as seismographic observations of socio-political moods of the audience. In terms of aesthetics, the body in metamorphosis has mostly to undergo a quite violent and gory procedure: Usually infected by a virus, by strange coincidences or by mislead self-tests, the protagonists have to deal with their own mimicry. Neither are they familiar with the process of transformation, nor do they have the antidotes needed to cure or stop this act. Having undergone it, they are in a psychological state of having survived a rite of initiation. The initiation as a final result of the transformation is shown in nearly all Cyborg-films. In »Tetsuo« the two male protagonists become a role model for an altered, yet cyborgian iconoclasm.
It also can be interpreted in terms of a political and individual socialisation: Through this initiation, the Cyborg by definition is put outside of any legal system run by humans and – in a psychological sense – has put an »irrational guilt« upon himself. S/he has become her/his »own boss«, devoted only to personal rules of interaction. They are not bound anymore to canonized systems of values and ethics, they have become their own »Metal Gods«. But being a Cyborg usually also means to have incredible power and strength, to be »exotic« and (through it) erotic. – This could maybe serve as an argument why Cyborgs have gained so much recognition within the field of narratives…
Depending on the point of interpretation, a Cyborg is the incarnation of a positive or negative connotated understanding of nowadays technology as a Cyborg still is a translocated simulacrum of human thoughts, wishes and imaginations. How do these two entities interact?

3 The Man-Machine-Interaction: An Iconography of Waste

Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts... A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding.[9]

This quotation from »Neuromancer« illustrates a setting of interactions between »regular« people, transferred in a mathematically reproduced reality. Technology is meant to be a tool to be used, a device that makes life easier. It is a prolonging of some sort of human behaviour to the machine. The Man-Machine-Interaction (MMI) works on rationally driven thoughts, people stay themselves whereas their surrounding becomes highly artificial.
In »Tetsuo« the viewer is confronted with one of the most dense MMI’s ever seen in film-history. For further better understanding, I want to point out that for the complex of the MMI in the context of »Tetsuo« it is important to bear in mind that we have to deal with exterior connotations, with a translocation of the body towards an exterior body which is concrete, analogue and figurative. Not the surrounding but the body itself becomes highly artificial. The organic body becomes metallic and illustrates the mimetic structures of changed states of reality. We not deal with abstract (like in the digital version of the MMI) but with concrete (= analogue) metaphors: The nervous system is substituted with wires, veins become tubes, blood transforms to oil, the whole body consists of all varieties of metal junk.[10] Here, »Tetsuo«[11] signifies a break with the long tradition of the topic: Thinking of more or less highly artificial robots like the »Machine-Maria«, »Robbie«, the three »Terminators«, the »Blade Runner« or even »Robocop«, »Tetsuo« on the contrary generates its MMI via junk, via materials we are surrounded by day by day. »Tetsuo« exemplifies the apotheosis of a new version of human existence not via a rationalized techno-dream (in terms of common understanding) but constitutes an iconography of the superficial via an ensemble of wasted goods.
At this point, Cyberpunk comes in.[12] As the original Punk in the 70s, old and useless materials were used in order to re-contextualize the signs of waste, to re-territorialize the body as a political field and to put a sign against established values. The body-concepts in this film are crude, but/ that’s why they combine all the »negative« affects that machines in their sterile self-understanding should have had wiped out: tactile qualities, pain, death and the visibility of body fluids. A.R. Stone summarizes the lacks: »[…] structures of individual caring, love, and perhaps the most poignant, of desire«.[13] »Tetsuo« in all its compound textures and layers of iconographic, narrative and filmic codes is not interested in an updated »C3-I«-language (Computer Communication Control Intelligence) but quite strictly maintains an MMI which is disconnected from certain paradigms of time and space.
With its bizarre and rhizomatic structure the film is associated with other surrealistic representations. Concerning its MMI the film could take place in the 30s as well as in the 70s or the 00s, because the technological framework of the story and the narrative has been »out-dated« since the very beginning. The grainy B/W-images together with a highly poetic use of lightning enforce the suggestive feeling of a film from the 20s, intensified by a highly dramatized contrast-montage of stroboscope-like flicker effects.[14]
Der Schnitt schafft die rhythmisierte Verknüpfung, die dem Zuschauer die reizlastige Bilderflut ungefiltert ins Gehirn hämmert – zur Verdeutlichung einer “Quintessenz” der Megalopolis Tokio. Tsukamoto kreierte so die denkbar eindringlichste filmische Umsetzung einer zeitgemäßen Industrial-Ästhetik: Fleisch und Metall verschmelzen in einer sexuellen Konnotation letztendlich zu einer biomechanischen Waffe«[15]

Desire is a motion that keeps us going. Without desire, we would be… what? Robots? Machines? Is that the striking difference? Is it enough just to take e.g. a human head and a non-organic body to avoid being reduced to a »stupid machine« from which at the same time it is said is at least as intelligent as humans? In the analogue version of the MMI interactions we know from human behaviour transform into machine-driven ones: Desire – ranging from its most simple to its most complex connotations – becomes in »Tetsuo« an act of violent fetishism and self-mutilation. The film locates the MMI on a level of degeneration, where language has changed to some syllables without meaning. They resemble more to sounds of an animal or a machine than to a human being. »Tetsuo« is an audiovisual feast of the transformation of an »useful« member of nowadays’ society – a Business Man – to an useless metal-monster, merged together with a metal-fetishist, ready to change the world into rust. What an affront. This affront is as big as to keep desires in a completely techno-mediated surrounding…
The term »machine« should not be taken literally. »Machine« means a complex cluster of non-organically mediated spheres of existence, both on an individual and on a collective level. Of course I refer to the theories of the »machine-phylum«, postulated by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari[16] as a main source. But for the purpose of this paper, I have to direct these theories in a certain direction: The machine is understood as an abstract – in the context of »Tetsuo« – yet organic metaphor for a technically generated body.
»Tetsuo« clearly can be identified as a symptom of a crisis in Japanese society. Looking at the past of Japan’s Horror-movies, the invasion of the country and the Atom bomb became paradigmatic topics. But today the 'invadee' is not primarily the geographical Japan, but the mental Japan. Japanese technological progress is galloping like a paranoid mustang and many feel technology is invading their personal life. The subversive elements in »Tetsuo« become apparent if we keep in mind that Business Man as a paraphrase stands for the traditional way whereas Fetishist is the incarnation of the new way. Another path of interpretation is the paradoxical liberation of Business Man from a somehow »robotic« everyday-life into a more »human« condition through a Cyber(-punk) environment. In the end, they melt together but it is clear that Business Man before that has to undergo a change towards the ideals presented by Fetishist to become part of this new, modern type of society. We can estimate that the film is mostly viewed by an audience who is in their 20-somethings. This group is confronted with huge cultural changes, made visible in the conflict between the generations. »This age group, which is seen a being mostly concerned with computer games and loud music, is described by the Japanese media as “shinjinrui” which means “new type of human being”. Although both of the main characters appear to be the same age, it could be suggested that Salaryman (=Business Man; H.D.) is representing the epitome of the former generation, whereas Fetishist is the shinjinrui.«[17] In its typical way of deviant sexual connotations in the very end of the film the hybrid of Business Man and Fetishist repeats the mantra pronounced by every new generation: »Our love will destroy the whole fucking world!« – And, finally, as they have become unbeatable metal monsters, they turn back to the blueprint of Mangas: »We can rust the world into the dust of the universe!«
Partly the subversive moments in »Tetsuo« are due to its old-fashioned style. But the main part is due to the use of everyday-junk to illustrate the transformation from a nobody to a somebody. You don’t need half of the gross national product of a certain country to make this dream of mankind come true but it’s enough to have some wires, tubes, cylinders, screws and chains. Here the complete devotion to metal by the counter-protagonist leads to a fetishist allegory of the metal: This character, simply described as »The Man« and »Fetishist«, is the mythical figure of one who has access to alternative wisdom, to secret knowledge. He is the one who knows about the pleasures and lusts of the transformation for to become a Cyborg. Fetishist is the Alter ego, the »doppelgänger« of the protagonist. It is not clear who’s the good guy and who’s the bad one. We here deal with interdependencies, with two poles that configure each other: This process is fantastically made visible in »Tetsuo«: As a showdown, the two melt into one gigantic hybrid, one big colossus of steel, ready to take the world apart. At the same time, it is the principle of Zen to have the diversities combined together in one entity. The face of Business Man becomes visible in this big ensemble of rotten metal, his transformation is complete. Having undergone the initiation and feeling his new power, Business Man says: »Ah, I feel great!«. In these images the MMI has come to an end as man and machine have become identical. At the same time, this big hybrid indicates a »false path«, an error in evolution, a side-product which has been created by cheap industrial metal waste, by junk, not by high-class research. The hybrid can be seen as the incarnation of a not wanted by-product in a society trained for rationality and efficiency. The hybrid represents the »New world«.

4 Sa, Koi!: Holes, Loops and Sex exemplified

That what has good shapes in the living nature has bad ones in its symbolic representation.
Jacques Lacan: Psychoanalysis& Cybernetics. 1955.

»Sa, Koi!« means »Come on!«. This phrase is quite often used in »Tetsuo«. It makes no sense for the story of the film, it is more a vocal effect, a sub-textual narrative to spur on the tension of the spectator to become part of the transformation process.
The film »Tetsuo« by Shinya Tsukamoto[18] (born in Shibuya, Tokyo in 1960) is an artistic articulation between digital and analogue body-relations in time and space: The act of transformation equals a re-birth through technology with a high portion of creative violence around it. »Tsukamoto sexually fetishizes machinery – pistons, oil, the gleam of chromium, jagged edges, tangled wires – and equates it with wildly repressed desires – it is constantly trying to burst from inside human skin, run rampant and absorb everything into its mass. Indeed what more potent an image can such a regimented society as Japan have produced than that of a white collar worker engaged in a ballet of wills to stop his flesh being taken over by machinery that insists on erupting from within.«[19]
The organically based orgasms become semi-organic, they mutate to ill-directed eruption of raw articulations between each entity. There is no more what so ever »sense« in reproduction, it merely has changed to procreation of a feverish dream of pure lust. This lust is released by the new capacities of the Cyborgs and would not be imaginable in the context of a framework of traditional values. This search for to overcome canonized ethics through the power of the machines instead of alternative gender-concepts is not new: In Italian Futurism there also was a strong occupation towards topics like recreation without the need of a female body but to adopt a steel-constructed body instead. These ideas go back to a quite (proto-)fascistic zeitgeist in terms of the treatment of women and of the (blind) enthusiasm for the capacities of technology. Looking at the actors in »Tetsuo« it becomes apparent that they combine the mechanical way of performing from the European theatre-tradition of Constructivism (Meyerhold, the FEKS et.al.) with the static movements of Chinese ghost films and the traditional Japanese kabuki theatre. Another important direction leads towards the Japanese »New Wave«-cinema/ -theatre in the 60s with protagonists like Shuhji Terayama and Nagisha Oshima. »[…] it is the mise-en-scene and feel of the film that is most important of all. The film is polysemic which is a result of the ambiguity of parts of the narrative, whereas the imaginary and sound in themselves are very bold.«[20]
»Tetsuo« wants the viewer to comprehend the erotic qualities of prosthesis, of non-organic extensions of the body in an environment of Industrial Ecstasy. The soundtrack by Chu Ishikawa aims with its hammer-like, tribal metallic rhythms, contrasted with highly dramatized electronic sound effects and its small melodic loop-repetitions towards a piece that could be called »metal symphony«.
»Tetsuo« is an obsessive film about holes and openings: The orifices of the organic bodies become one with the non-organic ones. They do not substitute each other but one system is exchanged with the other. We find different forms of deviant sexuality: The snake-dance, in which Girlfriend wears a long dildo that has come to life and that penetrates the formerly completely average white collar Business Man from behind; The metal-fetish of Fetishist, when he inserts bare metal parts into his flesh; In his act of transformation, Business Man’s genitals change to a big driller with which he hunts Girlfriend (»Do you want to taste my sewage pipe!?«) and later in an act of auto-destructive love she kills herself by riding the driller[21]; Business Man and Fetishist become one entity because of the help of »homoerotic« metal-junk... The car-crash has linked these two characters so closely together that we can assume that in this non-existing future procreation through coitus will be replaced by semi-organic sexual practices like a car crash.[22] Psychoanalysis knows a big deal about the problematic relation between genders towards the orifices of the body: In case of »Tetsuo« we have a nightmarish version of a phallus that becomes a noisy driller and of a vagina dentata that is made out of pulsating metal and buries two males in her. The significance of sexual images is prolonged to a merely abstract i.e. surrealistic stage, a strategy quite well known in Manga-/ Animé-Films. But here the images do not deliver a cartoon-like liberation but enforces the dark and brutal vision of a time and its sexuality that has lost control over themselves. Even the intercourses of the couple are shown in a gone wild, lust-driven way. Here, »Sa, Koi!« starts to become a metaphysical meaning as it signifies the demand for changes in a sexual and sociologic framework: Come on, overcome your old rules to make place to the new.
»Tetsuo« does not play with a certain sexually connotated iconography: the signs are quite crude, desire is transferred in a wild, more animal-like behaviour for to get pleasure. This desire not necessarily means sexual or destructive pleasure, it is a part of the strong need to get into contact with each other – more or less in any way possible, whereas the way how the protagonists meet is all but »regular«, so maybe another indicator for a social system which has become unbalanced.

Tetsuo – Iron Man. Japan 1989. Directed by Shinya Tsukamoto. B&W, 67 min.

Business Man: Tomoroh Taguchi
Business Man’s Girlfriend: Kei Fujiwara
Woman in Glasses: Nobu Kanaoka
The Guy/ Fetishist: Shinya Tsukamoto
Doctor: Naomasa Musaka
A Tramp: Renji Ishibashi

Produced by Kaijyu-Theater
Music: Chu Ishikawa
Distribution: Kaijyu-Theater; ICA Projects, Image Entertainment

Some Awards:
Grand Price at the 9.th Rome International Fantastic Film Festival. 1989
1.st Prize The Sundance Festival 1991
1.st Prize The Avoriaz International Fantastic Film Festival 1992
Grand Price at the Sweden Fantastic Film Festival: Audience Award Best Feature 1998

Some selected further sources:

Bergson, Henri: Von der Auswahl der Bilder bei der Vorstellung. 1896. In: Pias, Claus/ Vogl,
Joseph/ Engell, Lorenz/ Fahler, Oliver/ Neitzel, Britta [Hg.](1999): Kursbuch Medienkultur. Die maßgeblichen Theorien von Brecht bis Baudrillard. DVA, Stuttgart.
Bowlt, John E. (1976): Russian Art of the Avantgarde. Theory and criticism. 1902 – 1934. New York.
Butler, Judith (2000): Antigone’s Claim: Kinship between Life& Death. Columbia University Press, New York.
Deleuze, Gilles (1991): Das Bewegungs-Bild. Kino 1. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt/Main
Goldberg, RoseLee (³2001): Performance Art. From Futurism to the Present. Thames& Hudson, London.
Haraway, Donna: Cyborgs at large: An interview with Donna Haraway. In: Penlex, Constance/ Ross, Andrew [Ed.s](1991): Technoculture. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.
Richie, Donald (2001): 100 Years of Japanese Film. Kodansha International, Tokyo.
Stone, Allucquère Rosanne (1995): The War of Desire and Technology At The Close Of The Mechanical Age. MIT Press, Cambridge/ Mass.
Zizek, Slavoj (1995): The Metastases Of Enjoyment. Six Essays on Women and Causality. Verso, London/ New York.

Kraftwerk: The Man-Machine. EMI, 1978.
Chu Ishikawa: Tetsuo. Soundtrack. Japan Overseas, 1990.
Franz Pomassl/ Kodwo Eshun: Architectronics. Craft, 1998.

[1] A vast collection of research is provided via: http://www.press.umich.edu/jep/works/vbush/vbush0.shtml. Vers. 31.07.2003. Here the highly influential text »As We May Think« by Vannevar Bush from 1945 can be found, too.
[2] Allucquère Rosanne Stone (1995): The War Of Desire And Technology At The Close Of The Mechanical Age. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA/ London. p. 27. Stone herself at this time was Director of the Interactive Multimedia Laboratory (ACTLab) in Austin.
[3] The topic of Frankenstein has fascinated generations of filmmakers: From of the very first in 1910 by J. Searle Dawley to »Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster« (Robert Gaffney; 1965) to Kenneth Branagh’s »Frankenstein« in 1994. According to the International Movie Database, so far more than 80 films have been made.
[4] A certain amount of spirituality – or at least metaphysics – seems to be a constant through the ages. It looks as if there has to be interdependency between highly developed science and its opposition, at least in culturally advanced societies. What is the alchemist in »Metropolis«, is the figure of the Fetishist in »Tetsuo«. These people have a certain atavistic knowledge unknown to regular people as they already have undergone a process, which for me in this context is an initiation in its most tribal sense. Religion has changed its parameters with technology.
[5] Some good sources are: Charles Edwin Price: Monsters, horror movies and the Atomic bomb. 2002. http://vt.essortment.com/monstershorror_rxze.htm. Vers. 1.8.2003 and Jerome F. Shapiro: A-Bomb Cinema. Routhledge, 2002.
[6] http://www.clockdva.com/man.amplified.html. Coincidence tells that both »Man-Amplified« and the sequel of »Tetsuo«, »Tetsuo II: Body Hammer«, were released in 1992.
[7] Adi Newton: Lines notes of the track »Man-Amplified« from the same-titled album. Conte Disc 182, © 1992 Anterior Research.
[8] Donna Haraway: Ein Manifest für Cyborgs. Feminismus im Streit mit den Technowissenschaften. In: C. Hammer/ I. Steiß [Hg.](1995) Die Neuerfindung der Natur. Primaten, Cyborgs und Frauen.. Frankfurt/ M./ New York. S. 36. Original 1985. (Re-translated into English; H.D.)
[9] William Gibson (1984): Neuromancer. New York, Ace. p. 51.
[10] Some of the transformation-scenes are high-class animation cinema. Apparently some of these images trace back to the Czech master of animation Jan Svankmajer.
[11] »Tetsuo« is not a typical cyber film. Films like »The Lawnmower-Man« (1992), »Brain Slasher« (1990) by Steve Barnett or »Ghost In A Shell« (1996) are more close to a nowadays understanding of these subjects. As it was said before, the film manifests itself between important changes in which Cyberculture and VR become part of everyday culture. The intension to analyse certain aspects of this film was to make a statement about historical, technical and sociologic developments that caused this shift. It also could be argued that »Tetsuo« is more an updated »Industrial«-film. I go for that as well. The film came out in a period when society shifted from the analogue, the »mechanical age« (Allucquère Rosanne Stone) to the digital era. As it is suggested further on, the aesthetics of the film are clearly regressive. »Tetsuo« is in a classical sense a »constructivist« film and not a »Neo-something«… The film contains a certain innocence towards technological developments in favour for interpersonal actions and settings.
[12] See for further research: http://project.cyberpunk.ru/. Vers. 31.7.2003.
[13] Allucquère Rosanne Stone (1995): The War of Desire And Technology at the Close of the Mechanical Age. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA/ London. p. 36.
[14] On the contrary, »Tetsuo« was at a peak-level concerning its techniques of cuts and montage. There are some scenes in which Fetishist and Business Man follow and hunt down each other. These sequences are done in a very innovative way of montage that give the impression as if the protagonists would stand still while the landscape is running instead of them… This effect is done with a cunning stop-motion animation, a technique usually used in animation-films. Out of the sequences that could be dated back in the classical period of expressionism/ constructivism there is one where Girlfriend performs a strange snake dance. Here the viewer is confronted with the striking poses of a female dancer who apparently has gone insane and with a very dense foreplay for a violent sexual penetration. This sequence quite remarkably could be the result of the updated nightmare of the dance-scene dreamt by Freder in »Metropolis«.
[15] Marcus Stiglegger: Körper der Crisis. Das Cinema pur von Shinya Tsukamoto. http://www.ikonenmagazin.de/artikel/Tsukamoto.htm. Vers. 30.7.2003
[16] Gilles Deleuze/ Félix Guattari (1974): »Programmatische Bilanz für Wunschmaschinen«. In: Anti-Ödipus. Kapitalismus und Schizophrenie. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt/ M. S. 497 – 502.
[17] Christina Monk: Ninja Spice’s Tetsuo Site. p. 2. www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Shrine/8509/tsukamoto/tetsuo2.html. Vers. 23.7.2003
[18] A good biography of Shinya Tsukamoto is provided by Mark Shilling (1999): Contemporary Japanese Film and the URL-collection: http://web.tiscali.it/no-redirect-tiscali/japop90/Registi/tsukamoto.html
[19] Richard Scheib (1994): Tetsuo – The Iron Man. http://www.ikonenmagazin.de/artikel/Tsukamoto.htm. Vers. 23.7.2003
[20] Christina Monk: Ninja Spice’s Tetsuo Site. p. 4. www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Shrine/8509/tsukamoto/tetsuo2.html. Vers. 23.7.2003
[21] It is important to notice that the women in the film can be seen as a very emancipated. Especially the iconography of Girlfriend and the way she acts reveal many implications that she does not act in a typical ladylike way but that she is a resolute person. She moves in some scenes not only in a highly sensual, but even sexual manner, independent from the male protagonist. She is somewhat turned on yet frightened by her boyfriend’s metamorphosis. At the same time, she kicks Business Man at the wall and wounds him with a knife when he in his Cyborgian aggressive vision wants to rape her. The act of killing herself through a sexual act with her boyfriend indicates her liberation from all established systems in favour for her own system. Compared to her boyfriend she can be described as a rather active individual. Did she kill herself for love’s or for lust’s sake and what are the consequences for a patriarchal system? Woman in Glasses represents like the duo Business Man – Fetishist the dark side of Girlfriend. This stylish Cyberpunk is the perfect incarnation of a (male) wet dream of how a tribal Techno-Chic could look like whereas before she was a perfectly ordinary »no-one« in the big halls of the underground of Tokyo. Through her transformation she becomes a character most closely related to Animé-films.
[22] Here of course we might think of J.G. Ballard and his novel »Crash«. The film was directed by David Cronenberg, the »master of new flesh«. This is how circles of shared interests and visions produce feedback

Heinrich Deisl studied Communication/ Mass Media/ Film/ History in Salzburg and Vienna (A). His thesis (2001) concerned the Man-Machine-Interface and sonic aspects in F. Lang’s »Metropolis« and D. Vertov’s »Entuziazm«. Since 1996 he has worked as a freelance journalist/ researcher in the field of popular culture and writes mostly about music and film.
He is a coordinating editor of »skug – Journal für Musik«

He was research editor of the Austrian music-festivals »phonoTAKTIK’02« and »Prototype. Armaments and armatures against electronic music« (both 2002), and handled press-organisation for the Eastern European music-/artfestival »Serious Pop« (2004). 2004: He received a grant from the Austrian Department of Culture of Vienna for a scientific case-study about Austrian music-clubs since 1955. He also handles press and promotion for the Viennese club »fluc_mensa« 2004/ 05. In 2005 he was responsible for the artistic direction/press and organisation of the symposium »Culture Beyond Political Borders« for the festival »SoundBridges«. He is a co-founder of the »ICRN – Industrialized Culture Research Network» (together with Alexei Monroe an Peter Webb). Other activities include event organisation and lecturing, he is also a part-time musician and DJ and is the founder of the Vienna-based independent media-platform [TextDept].

Email: deisl@textdept.net

[TextDept]: www.textdept.net

skug – Journal für Musik: www.skug.at
»SoundBridges«: www.fluc.at/march05/1-16_soundbridges_web.pdf


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