(1) In view of the establishment of the Science Film Museum
Yuuji HIRAKI (Professor of Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences, Kyoto University)
The roles of inventions such as the chemical synthesis of dyes and silver halide photography, arising from the world of chemistry, are comparable to the roles played by steam engines in the modernization of physics, and in this past half century; biology too has at last attained modernization. Since the organism species that attracted the greatest attention was mankind, the end of the 20th Century is adorned with changes in basic human medicine. Photographic techniques fixed patterns created by light images to a physical plane through the photoreaction of silver halide, but now, there may only be a few who can recall the distinct smell of the developing (dark) room. Unlike the images of the digital world, the word “photograph” is most appropriate for pictures derived from these techniques, which directly reflect the constraints of the light characteristics of an object. The feel of modern science, verifiable through the five senses, is clearly present. Even in this era of digital technology, 35mm film contains a huge amount of information. The films that will be archived are the gifts handed down to subsequent generations by those who witnessed the modern revolution of biology. Consequently, I look forward to the establishment of the Science Film Museum (Incorporated NPO).
(2) Music and short films
Toshi ICHIYANAGI (Composer)
The footage contained within “Life is born” was created in the early 1960s, in the few years after my return to Tokyo following a seven-year stay in New York. At the time, I was writing experimental music using mainly graphic scores, when Mr. Yonesaku KOBAYASHI approached me with a request to take charge of the music for his film.
Mr. Kobayashi’s film was an independent work in its own right, replete with ideas that showed the cutting edge techniques of the era. In particular, in what could be considered a first for the time, filming based on the thorough examination of the microscopic world, using special filming techniques with a microscope, was the piece de resistance. I was greatly impressed by his focused and sincere approach to filming, and felt the need to produce a fitting response on the music side. My memory of this is still clear.
What I could do was to create a world of sound that competed with the content of the footage, and from this perspective, the music in these films also employs cutting edge techniques. Although I employed a number of special methods of playing various instruments, for example, for the piano, methods such as internal playing, use of prepared pianos, or the electronic modulation of sounds produced when a piano is used as a percussion instrument, etc, it is fair to say that the results were inspired by the images.
Although today, I may perhaps consider a softer texture for music as an accompaniment to film, the approach I took at the time, one I would take to create a pure musical composition, reflects my concordance with the 1960s era in which culture and art were primed for momentous enhancement.
(3) The radiance of “Life” in science films – “Life is born”
Toshihiko YAJIMA (Professor of Health Sciences University of Hokkaido)
Everyone has a memory of the macroscopic process of emerging life stored somewhere in their minds. It may also cross your mind, when you crack open a raw egg, that life emerges from a tiny fetus and that the egg yolk provides the nutrients, but few people will extend this train of thought to a conscious awareness of “life”. This film, which follows the “birth of life” from the single cell to successive cell division, cell differentiation, the formation of tissue and organs, the beating of the heart, the flow of blood, and the development of the body, makes full use of the finest filming techniques and brilliant cinematic expression to portray the fundamental phenomenon of biology with miraculous perfection. Furthermore, the film visualizes the idea of “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny”. Although not shown directly in this film, there is also a suggestion that “death” exists as a part of “life” and is neither the opposite nor the end of “life”.