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September 2009
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2009, Sep 30
Ryogoku (sumo arena)

I made this print at a rental darkroom in Tokyo a few months ago, but I’m looking for an enlarger so I can do all this stuff from the comfort (?) of my own apartment. If you are in Tokyo and have a beat on a spare enlarger, please get in touch.


							

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2009, Sep 25
Sugimoto in Ginza

There are two weeks left to see Sugimoto Hiroshi’s latest work, “Lightning Fields,” at Gallery Koyanagi in Ginza. Some of his recent projects—mathematical models, white apartment interiors—have been pretty cold, but since he’s making these images with RAW ELECTRICITY, I’m hoping that won’t be a problem here. Honestly I can’t tell how excited I should be from this picture, looking at a Sugimoto JPG is like hearing [a piece of music you greatly respect] in a tin can.

Marc and Yaohong both mentioned this series several blog years ago.

Update 9/27: I saw the exhibit yesterday, it’s definitely worth checking out. Like everything Sugimoto does it’s totally theoretical, but the images don’t feel burdened by the concept. I think I respond to Sugimoto best when he is dealing with something that is at least a little bit out of his control—I like the movie theaters and seascapes much better than the wax figures and mathematical models. These photos were very much left up to chance, and that lightness makes for a good experience.


							

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Hiroshi Sugimoto

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2009, Sep 24
Grace Kim taking pictures of love hotels in Korea


grace-kim.com

She went in the rooms after the couples had left. That access is impressive, given how important privacy is to these businesses, at least in Japan. The series works as a whole, but strangely I really want to see this in color.

[big up Nicole for the tip]


							

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2009, Sep 23
John Sypal exhibit at Totem Pole Photo Gallery

Let’s see what happens when the most polished ambassador of Tokyo gaijin photography (John) has an exhibit at the best gallery for young photographers in the city (Totem Pole).

“A Straight Line of Vision” is up from September 29th to October 3rd. Totem Pole is open 12-7pm. Here’s a link to a map.


							

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John Sypal, Totem Pole Photo Gallery

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2009, Sep 22
A trip to the Tokyo Museum of Photography Library

I went to go check out the “Sentimental Journey” exhibit at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography that’s ending tomorrow. I had walked through once before but it needed another visit, especially with a free ticket burning a hole in my pocket. The show has small selections from 10 photographers’ trips, all within Japan. This time I really enjoyed the photos from Tsuchida Hiromi’s “Zokushin,” where he went into mountain villages and took pictures in and around religious festivals:

Hiromi Tsuchida, Woman with fake flowers, Aoshima, Miyazaki, 1973. from Lensculture

After walking through, I made a trip up to the fourth floor to visit the museum’s library. I don’t have any pictures to show because they run a pretty tight ship, but I can assure you it’s worth stopping by.

First of all, it’s FREE, and you don’t even have to buy a ticket to the museum to drop in. Although you can’t wander through the main stacks, there’s a simple computer catalog (with English) to look for books which the staff will bring out to you in a minute or two. I think they’ll have basically anything you can think of, especially when it comes to Japanese photographers. I ended up checking out a volume of August Sander’s portraits—a really nice book printed in Germany—and Araki’s “Sentimental Journey.”

There are some materials sitting out for browsing, like history books, books relating to the current exhibitions (Tsuchida’s “Zokushin”) and plenty of magazines, including English-language ones like Foam and Aperture. There are a good numbers of tables, chairs and desks. Next time I’m coming back with a list. Obviously this place comes highly recommended—a free way to spend some enjoyable hours in Tokyo? Unheard of!


							

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Hiromi Tsuchida, Tokyo Metropolitan Photography Museum

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2009, Sep 18
Mark King and the end of photography? Probably not

I’m pretty sure the sky is not falling. Here is a small edit of some photos by Mark King which show how important images still are to us. Whatever photography might be, it definitely has something to do with producing images. I mean, I think, right?


							

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2009, Sep 17
“The end of the age of photography”

A world, the smell of Dektol, the sprocket driven technology that went back to Edison who invented it in New Jersey, the world of Gene Smith, of Frank, silver gelatin prints, mounting tissue, negatives, drying racks, and small black and white things of enormous beauty and power, that until now has had an unprecedented life of six generations and has altered how the world is seen and known for all time, is coming to an end. It is the end of the age of photography. It is an undeniable fact. Just look around.

The sign at the entrance to my gym locker room says “no cell phones please, cell phones are cameras.” They are not. A camera is a Nikon or a Leica or Rollieflex and when you strike someone with one, that is take your camera and use it as a weapon, they know they have been hit with something substantial. ”

from “The End of the Age of Photography” by Danny Lyon

 

The logic of this article is full of interesting holes, but the most obvious mistake for me is taking a bull-headed view of what is or isn’t “photography.” I mean, how is it “an undeniable fact” that “photography” is dying? I would be happy to deny that myself, and so would many other people, for other reasons I’m sure.

I think Danny Lyon does mean something when he talks about “photography,” but he hasn’t gone beyond identifying its smells and brands.


							

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Quotes

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2009, Sep 13
Fukuyama Emi’s website

Fukuyama Emi is one of my favorite photographers in Tokyo, and she has a new website where you can see a lot of her work. I wrote before about her last exhibit at Totem Pole Photo Gallery, where she is a member. If you look at the gallery called “The Moon, Following Me,” the last 10 or 12 images made up that exhibit.

Someone told me recently they were surprised how many photographers in Japan don’t have a website. I’m still figuring out how the internet “works” inside of Japan—the fact that cell phones had internet access so early meant that the ‘PC internet’ developed differently—but it’s certainly true that a website is an easy way to reach a foreign audience.


							

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2009, Sep 11
A small compendium of Chinese photographs

Right now, this is all I know about Chinese photography.

Mu Ge, Chengdu
Psycho, Shanghai
Zhang Xiao, Chongqing

							

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China

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2009, Sep 03
Zen Foto Gallery, opening soon in Shibuya

Liu Zheng, A Man with Mustache from “Dream Shock”

Mark Pearson’s Zen Foto Gallery will open up two weeks from today in Shibuya. I’m sure the news of a new photography gallery might provoke either a groan (“does Tokyo really need more photo galleries?”) or a shrug (“hey, according to Tokyo Art Beat I already miss about 80 events a week”). Those reactions are understandable, but I do think there is a reason to pay attention to the exhibits that go up at Zen Foto—the gallery is planning to focus on the work of Chinese photographers.

I know basically nothing about what’s happening with Chinese photography, so I am looking forward to learning more. The first exhibit, Liu Zheng’s “Dream Shock,” opens on September 18, with an opening reception at 6:00pm. [map]


							

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Zen Foto Gallery

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