Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures Kyoko Omori recently gave an invited lecture at a UCLA symposium on “Talking Silents: New Approaches to Early Japanese Cinema and the Art of the Benshi.”
Omori’s talk, titled “The Soundscape of Benshi Performance: ‘Inter-Mediating’ Global Modernity,” was part of a three-day event that also screened 15 Japanese and American silent films and featured performances by three Japanese benshi. Benshi are performers who provide live narration alongside films on the screen. They were accompanied by four Japanese musical instrument players.
Elaborating on her digital benshi archive, “Benshi: Silent Film Narrators in Japan,” Omori discussed how the use of digital tools help us gain further insight into the ways that benshi performers engaged in a dynamic, multisensory, and inter-media performance.