Hoji Tsuchiya

By Edwin Rostron

Hoji Tsuchiya was born in Tokyo in 1984. He started making animations in 2004, and in 2012 moved to Berlin, where he currently lives and works. He has made a number of music videos and short films, often using a combination of drawn animation and cut-outs. His work has a great purity and sensitivity, and a hugely inspiring sense of formal invention and experimentation. Hoji is one of the most exciting young independent animators working today and I was thrilled when he kindly agreed to answer some of my questions about his work via email.

Black Long Skirt (2010). Animation and Music by Hoji Tsuchiya.

Hoji’s 2010 film ‘Black Long Skirt’ perfectly captures a very particular feeling; a rainy afternoon in a solitary urban life, a gentle kind of loneliness where your daydreams and reality merge. Within this comfortable emptiness you notice small details of your environment; textures and sounds seem magnified, significant, acting as keys to unlock your unconscious. The film’s character and story seem more like a tangible embodiment of this feeling than the driving force of the film in themselves. The materials and techniques of the animation correspond in an evocative way with the atmosphere of the film. We see the everyday dead-zone of a drizzly afternoon opening up into a world of mystery and desire, and this is mirrored in the way Hoji uses quite basic materials and processes (paper, ink, water, cut-outs and photocopying) in a magical, highly inventive and playful way, at once homemade and sophisticated. The way he shows rain on the window, the way the car turns, and the beautifully realised daydream sequences are all wonderfully original and resonant formal ‘solutions’, but they also seem resourceful and driven by necessity. They are completely at one with the ideas and feelings of the film, the result of the artist being immersed in exploring what he refers to as ‘representation beyond language’.

Sphere (2012). Animation and Music by Hoji Tsuchiya.

EoF: How did you start making animations?

HT: When I was 19 years old, I found I was able to make animation on a home video camera. I started making animation in my closet.

Elementary School Situation (2011) Animation by Hoji Tsuchiya. Music by Mr Understand.

EoF: How much do you plan your animations out before you make them?

HT: I create animations from things that have been projected onto the walls of the inside of my heart. I make animation based on those images, but they appear as facial expressions that I did not expect. Therefore, the story expands in a direction that I had not predicted.

Permanent Ghost (2012) by Hoji Tsuchiya.

EoF: Where did the idea for the film ‘Black Long Skirt’ come from?

HT: I had a dream of the black shadow woman.

Woodcutter of Autumn (2012) by Hoji Tsuchiya.

EoF: There is a wonderful animation technique in ‘Black Long Skirt’, where the drawings leave traces behind, which gradually dissolve – how did you achieve this effect?

HT: I photocopied a paper cut-out, then placed another cut-out on the copied paper and copied it again, and so on… I was interested in the deterioration that appears by repeating the copy. I wanted to show the uncertainty of the existence of the woman through this technique.

EoF: The rich atmospheric feeling of ‘Black Long Skirt’ and ‘Sphere’ is partly created by the music, which you made yourself. How did you approach this?

HT: I like to make music by free feeling. It is possible to make music by free feeling, if it is for an animation of my own.

The Singing Line (2013) by Hoji Tsuchiya

EoF: The film ‘The Singing Line’ suggests a connection between singing and drawing. Can you expand a little more on this?

HT: It is an animation for viewing that part of my existence which is outside of meaning. My method of drawing the list of abstract forms was quite mechanical, emitting onomatopoeic words at the same time as drawing the line.

Birdhouse Mutascope (2013) by Hoji Tsuchiya.

EoF: Can you tell me about your ‘Birdhouse Mutascope’?

HT: I made it for an exhibition. I use a computer when editing animation in almost all cases, but in this case I wanted to make music and animation which can be played at the same time without a computer.

Hotaru (Firefly) (2013). Animation by Hoji Tsuchiya. Music by Uri Nakayama.

EoF: Is Berlin a good place to be an animator?

HT: I do not know much about the situation of other animation artists in Berlin. It is necessary to be aware of representation beyond language. That means living in a foreign country for me, it is very good for making animation.

EoF: Are you working on any new animation projects now?

HT: I am interested in the filter of the human mind. I am working on a piece that is based on the folklore of Japan that was transmitted by oral tradition. It is called ‘Hoichi’.

Prologue to Hoichi (2014) by Hoji Tsuchiya. Currently in production (completion in 2015).

Hoji Tsuchiya’s website

Hoji Tsuchiya on Vimeo


© Edwin Rostron 2014