(Collaboration with Tim Corballis)

Machine Wind is a short artist film that focuses on Syonan Jinja, the Shinto shrine built, by Australian and British POWs, in 1942 during the Japanese Imperial Army’s occupation of Singapore and destroyed in 1945 at the end of the occupation. Its remains are in the MacRitchie Reservoir jungle and are overgrown and difficult to access.  Machine Wind also operates as a film essay which approaches the subject of Syonan Jinja indirectly, composing footage of the current remains of the shrine together with archival newsreel footage of the Japanese capture of Singapore and other campaigns of the Japanese Imperial Army in Southeast Asia.

The voiceover of Machine Wind concerns ‘The Fate of Japanism’, an essay written in 1935 by the Japanese philosopher Tosaka Jun. Tosaka was critical of the Japanese regime, and died in prison in 1945. ‘The Fate of Japanism’ is a critique of the Japanese ideology that would ultimately drive the Japanese campaigns of World War II. It was, according to Tosaka, an ideology of primitivism and spiritualism at odds with the mechanisation of the military and the industrialisation of society. The discussion of Tosaka’s work offers a lens through which to view the establishment of Shinto shrines in Japanese occupied territory–a history that exists in the present-day via not only the existing remains in sites such as MacRitchie Reservoir but also a developing sense of nationalism as evidenced by the current Abe administration in Japan.