Daïchi Saïto


Daïchi Saïto © Oona Mosna, 2014

Daïchi Saïto (Canada / Japan) studied literature and philosophy in the USA and Hindi and Sanskrit in India, releasing his first book Moving the Sleeping Images of Things Towards the Light with Les éditions Le Laps (2013). Saïto is now based in Montréal where he is a co-founder of Double Negative, an artist’s collective dedicated to the exhibition and production of experimental film. His work explores the relation between the corporeal phenomena of vision and the material nature of the medium, fusing a formal investigation of frame and juxtaposition with sensual and poetic expressions. Saïto’s films have been exhibited at festivals, museums, galleries and cinematheques worldwide, including The New York Film Festival; International Film Festival Rotterdam; Toronto International Film Festival; Hong Kong International Film Festival, among others. His film Trees of Syntax, Leaves of Axis won the Jury Grand Prize at Media City Film Festival in 2010. He has taught cinema at Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV de San Antonio de los Baños in Cuba, and Concordia University in Montréal. Saïto’s films are in the permanent collections of the Austrian Film Museum (Vienna) and the Slovenian Cinematheque (Ljubljana), and are distributed by Light Cone (Paris), Arsenal (Berlin) and CFMDC (Toronto). Saïto was a commission artist of MCFF’s Mobile Frames and Underground Mines residency programs in 2014–2015. He currently teaches at Binghamton State University in upstate New York.


ONLINE SCREENING DATES: December 2 – December 23, 2020

FILMS IN THIS PROGRAM: Trees of Syntax, Leaves of Axis, 10 min, 2009

Trees of Syntax, Leaves of Axis, 10 min, 2009

Trees of Syntax, Leaves of Axis is Saïto’s second collaboration with musician Malcolm Goldstein, who composed and performed the original structured improvisation score. The film explores familiar landscape imagery Saïto and Goldstein share in their neighbourhood at the foot of Mount-Royal Park in Montréal. Using images of maple trees in the park as the main visual motif, Saïto creates a film in which the formations of the trees and their subtle interrelation with the space around them act as an agent to transform viewer’s sensorial perception. Richly coloured and entirely hand-processed, Trees of Syntax, Leaves of Axis is a poem of vision and sound that seeks perceptual insight and revelation through a syntactical structure based on patterns, variations, and repetition.

Compared to most rapidly edited collages of film and video over the past twenty years, Saïto’s films seem shockingly fresh, closer to how a poet crafts each line or a composer shapes a musical phrase. This is not surprising, since Saïto—in his short prose work “Moving the Sleeping Images of Things Towards the Light”—admits he is less a cinephile than a lover of literature and poetry. Nevertheless, his feeling for celluloid suffuses every frame, and his composition, cutting, and rhythm bear the distinct imprint of a filmmaker. There is also an uncanny isomorphic quality in these films, a feeling that Saïto’s internal clock and instinct for balancing legibility and textual density are in sync with his own—and by extension, our—optical behavior, the human eye’s rhythmic response to stimulation and rest. One thinks of what Stan Brakhage called the art of vision, in which both the external and internal eye bypass the intellect to incorporate and process stimuli. Saïto does not so much appeal to the eye as enlist its collaboration. – Tony Pipolo

Read the full ArtForum article here.

Screening co-presented with the Canadian Filmmaker’s Distribution Centre.