Vision of Aomori vol.11 SAWADA Thunder “echo”



Film Screening of SAWADA Thunder’s new film “echo”.

echo: a metaphorical horror film by SAWADA Thunder
KONDO Yuki (Curator, Aomori Contemporary Art Centre)

Hirosaki native SAWADA Thunder (1976- ) tells us he created a new work that combs the memories of his Aomori roots for this exhibition. By shooting on location in Aomori, what began as an exploration of memory is presented as a work that is directly connected to the landscape of Aomori. The beautiful, tranquil landscapes incorporated by SAWADA are much more than backdrops for the film. His impressive use of the forest, the night sky, and the calm of sea gives a voice to the film’s silent characters.

On the other hand, the things that happen to our main character and the film’s ending affect how we see the beautiful scenery, which becomes strangely dark and damp. Is this feeling related to indigenous beliefs and customs? Or is it merely the influence of a cliched portrait the media has painted of Aomori? By connecting regional conditions with scenery where a peculiar darkness lurks just beneath its beautiful facade, what we see goes beyond a mere landscape. At the same time, the film gives the impression that the artist has a somewhat twisted affection for his birthplace. But we also see that SAWADA’s artwork is not that simple. Neither does he make art to reflect Aomori’s regional characteristics.

SAWADA, who has directed films such as A Whisper Of The Planet (2011) and As Far As I Know (2014), also finds means for expression in theatre, screenplays, and even picture books.(1) Storytelling is an important core element in all of his works. By consciously using structures and cliches often found on TV or in Hollywood movies, SAWADA often embraces forms typically seen in pop culture, on TV and in the movies. He builds multi-layered narratives that work on many levels of meaning to bring together a plethora of information into a single story. In many cases, there exist parallel stories in the background: stories of people marooned in a far corner of society or crying out under the weight of structural violence.

SAWADA says that echo is the tale of a girl “who thinks she is saved, when actually she is already gone. She begins her journey barely alive, but ends it as a bodiless spirit.”(2) The first layer here is the establishment of beautiful scenery, combined with a fantastical story of the dead. SAWADA then overlays a symbolic female image typically seen in pornography and horror films. By doing so, he points to the state of women within modern society. In yet another layer to the film, SAWADA says he wanted to render the image of a woman who is kicked upstairs to represent a company or organization just as it starts to crumble. After reviewing the film in this light, you begin to see that each connection possesses more than one meaning, and that SAWADA’s horror film indeed speaks of another cruel story.

At the same time, the surface story is so solid that the film can easily be appreciated even without knowing the deeper layers. I wonder if those deeper layers will leave a subliminal impression on viewers while they enjoy what seems to be a fairytale ghost story. Or perhaps they will make the connections unintentionally, the way we realize the true meaning of Aesop’s Fables when we become older. SAWADA’s works are hardly a pastiche of fragmentary symbols. A simple change of perspective transforms them into completely different narratives?modern allegories and fairytales that satirize society.

(1)Osananajimi no Bakki, 10th Taro Okamoto Award for Contemporary Art Winner, published by Getsuyosha.
(2)SAWADA Thunder. From echo one sheet. January 17, 2015.

Translated by Alex QUEEN


SAWADA Thunder
1976 Born in Hirosaki city, Aomori, Japan.
2000 Graduated from Tokyo Keizai University (Faculty of Communication Studies).
2012 Completed Graduate School of Film and New Media, Tokyo University of the Arts.
Currently lives and works in Tokyo, Japan.

Selected film works
2011 A Whisper Of The Planet
2010 Isama Studio Film Festival (scenario award)
2010 Hakodate Harbor Illumination Film Festival (scenario encouraging prize)
2012 Fukuoka Independent Film Festival
2012 Mayonaka Film Festival

2013As Far As I Know(short film)
2015 Fukui Film Festival 9th (short film encouraging prise)

2014 Something theatrical, and playful(documentary film)

February 7 (sat), March 15 (sun), 2015, 10:00~18:00
AV room

ヴィジョン・オブ・アオモリvol.11「澤田サンダー echo」





近藤由紀(国際芸術センター青森 主任学芸員)




(2) 2015年1月17日澤田サンダー《echo》についてのコンセプトシートより。

1976 青森県弘前市生まれ
2000 東京経済大学コミュニケーション学部コミュニケーション学科卒業
2012 東京芸術大学大学院映像研究科修士課程映画専攻修了

2007 「岡本太郎現代芸術賞展」、川崎市岡本太郎美術館、神奈川
2007   「ARTLAN@AISA」、横浜ZAIM、神奈川
2007   「和解と和合の韓・日展」、Gallery Ewha、ソウル/韓国
2008 「はじめての食事」、渋谷ギャラリールデコ、東京
2008   「バッキーのリベンジ未遂!!」、銀座芸術研究所、東京
2008   「エコアジア二ズム」、ハイアットリージェンシー大阪、大阪
2009 「現代○美術 Nine Japanese contemporary artists’ exhibition」、ザルツブルグ博物館、ザルツブルグ/オーストリア

2010 伊参スタジオ映画祭シナリオ大賞中編の部大賞
2010   函館港イルミナシオン映画祭シナリオ大賞審査員奨励賞
2012 福岡インディペンデント映画祭優秀作品賞