Sweet first, Seizure second: A Tribute To Stom Sogo

“[A] movie’s reality should be as nasty and fucked up as possible, so we want to get fuck out of the theater and hope for something better in life…. I try not to have a message or even word in my movie. But I usually have some sick stories behind each of the movies. Those are just mental eye candy that it taste sweet first, seizure second.” – Stom Sogo

A dynamo whose thunderous potential was cut short by his premature death, Japanese moving-image artist Stom Sogo (1975-2012) remains a romantic rebel if ever there was one. For over two decades he created a hair-raising body of aggressively beautiful films and videos. His distinctive, psychically charged work revels in optic and aural jolts just as much as it attempts a sincere connection with the viewer. While he mastered numerous approaches, his primary technique involved heavy amounts of re-photography, a process that allowed him to fashion multiple electrified layers of strobing imagery. Other pieces demonstrate his uncanny editing prowess in their startling juxtaposition of home movies with materials taken from an expansive array of unlikely sources.

Sogo was a standout in MoMA’s landmark 8mm Big as Life survey, the 2002 Whitney Biennial, multiple editions of the New York Underground Film Festival and many other exhibitions. Born and raised in Osaka, he came to the United States for high school and eventually landed in New York City where he started working at Anthology. Truly a catalyst in every sense of the word, Sogo’s inexhaustible energy and inspiration helped kick open the doors of this staid institution to a younger generation of artists and fellow travelers. He moved to San Francisco in the early 2000s before returning to Brooklyn, and eventually Japan where he remained until his death in July 2012.

A prolific creator and a devoted experimentalist, Sogo often began with Super 8 or mini-dv and constantly renewed his works with hybrid electronic remixes. With each step the material achieved a higher level of intensity, sometimes to the point of self-destruction. As overtly poetic and autobiographical as they are often fiercely abstract, Sogo’s works do not shy away from exploring visual and sonic extremes. From his speedy and spectacular early diaries to his painstakingly rendered late digital manipulations, this posthumous survey features a wide selection of works from his extensive personal archive which now resides at Anthology. The programs remain open to the inclusion of additional titles as new discoveries are still being made in the many boxes and hard drives that Sogo left behind for us to uncover.

- Andrew Lampert

Curated by Andrew Lampert (Anthology Film Archives)
Special thanks to Yukiko and Ai Sogo, Kari and Luke Watanabe, Tomonari Nishikawka, Moira Tierney, Raha Raissnia and Tanya Small.