October 2010
2010, Oct 28
Links: Tsuchida Hiromi, Photobook blog, North Korea, Dubai

  • It’s almost comically late to post this now, but the contents of Tsuchida Hiromi’s Zokushin (at this point in my life, a tome of photographic scripture) are up at the JCII Camera Museum until Sunday the 31st. Even if you can’t see the exhibit for one reason or another, I recommend reading John’s insightful post about Tsuchida’s talk.
  • Compared to, say, novels, photobooks actually lend themselves pretty well to online display. Claxton Projects is a blog from London which posts very well-taken spreads of photobooks. The content has a wide range, it’s definitely worth a look.
  • series of photos from Dubai which revels in its own boringness. I feel like this is worth a look for a few minutes, but in the end it might be like art photography cotton candy.


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Hiromi Tsuchida

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2010, Oct 17
Lee Kan-kyo

is a first year Graphic Design graduate student at Tokyo Zokei (Plastic Arts) University. His photos kind of remind me of Ed Panar in that he has an eye for the mundane, and I can feel that he took them while he was walking around. I don’t have very much context for these photos, which come from his Tumblr, but I assume that these are basically throwaway snapshots. After all all he’s a graphic design student, right?

I just moved apartments which is one good reason for a delay in posts. You can find me hanging out around Araiyakushimae station these days, the 下町 (“lower city,” ie older, not yet developed, etc) of Tokyo’s west side!!


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2010, Oct 06
Yuko Masuda, “Vertical Direction”

It’s been a little while since I posted about a book – I think the last one was probably Aya Fujioka’s “I Don’t Sleep,” which was more than six months ago. Today let’s look at a new book from Tosei-sha, Yuko Masuda’s “Vertical Direction.”

It seems unlikely that “Vertical Direction” will win any special prizes, but I want to hold it up as an example of the kind of well-above-average photography which you can find in Tokyo. (I say, “in Tokyo,” because so much of the photography culture in Japan is concentrated here.) Masuda’s work is similar to that of another Tosei-sha photographer, Tsuneo Yamashita, who also takes “quick” 35mm black and white photographs in island, or rural, settings. Both photographers take frequent trips from Tokyo to shoot. Yamashita has been going to Okinawa for 10 years, and Masuda has been traveling to Southeast Asia for about the same amount of time.

© Yuko Masuda

Shooting a photo like this—a shirtless child in an unidentified Southeast Asian country—could open her up to criticism along the lines of, “you’re exploiting these people.” In this case, that seems overly harsh. The goal of these photos is not to say to the audience, “bear witness to the plight of ____!” In her statement she affirms, “I have no particular interest in people.” Could we propose a kind of theorem whereby the more willingly the photographer gives themselves over to humanism, the less critical goodwill they deserve?

© Yuko Masuda

At their best, Masuda’s photographs show a careful eye for composition, especially with groups of people.

© Yuko Masuda

There’s no real back story here, no “deep meaning,” just someone wanting to take off from their job for a while with a backpack and make some images. (This is again from to Masuda’s text.)

© Yuko Masuda

It’s been a while since I’ve seen such simple work like this—and I mean “simple” in a very positive way. Much more so than the conceptual or overtly “arty” work which I’ve seen a lot of lately, this work makes me want to go out and shoot myself.

Some notes about this book: like most all black and white Tosei books, the printing is really impeccable. One strange point about the book, though, is its garish cover, which offers the book browser no indication at all about what might be inside:

What’s kind of surprising is that, if you slip the cover off, the bare white book underneath is actually really elegantly done:

If you’re interested in purchasing “Vertical Direction,” get in touch with Kurt at the Japan Exposures bookstore. As with most any Japanese photobook, he can do a special order for you.


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Tosei-sha, Yuko Masuda

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