2011, Oct 14
Pharrell Williams x Rolls Tohoku (really)

I found this link to a 5 part video series hosted by Pharrell, called “Tokyo Rising.” It’s about how the “creative class” (their words not mine!) is on the rebound after 3/11. For maybe obvious reasons, I was pretty skeptical. Could Pharrell really say something meaningful?

As it turns out, yeah. Well, not actually, but that’s not the point. He (or really his production team, but whatever) clearly got in touch with a lot of really good people, and gave them a platform to speak. The founder of Shiroto no Ran, a used furniture store/radical protest group, is featured pretty prominently, but beyond that he also checked out an installation of the Rolls Tohoku project! I didn’t even know about the exhibit myself… damn, scooped by Pharrell in my own backyard.


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2011, Sep 02
Two videos of ERIC shooting in China

ERIC is a photographer born in Hong Kong who’s been living in Japan for quite some time. His excellent book “Good Luck China“ was published by Akaaka. Here’s a couple of videos of him shooting in China.


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China, ERIC, Videos

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2011, May 23
Araki and Jonathan Richman (荒木とジョナサン・リッチマン)

I’ve found myself praising Araki for bringing his own life as close to photography as possible. I don’t think Araki’s photos break too much ground aesthetically, but there’s so much of his life in his photos—maybe even his entire life! Photography is like breathing for him. Just look at how much he’s enjoying himself here:

Araki’s musical equivalent might be Jonathan Richman, who’s not trying to reinvent the wheel, but who expresses himself clearly and naturally when he’s performing. He and Araki both got started around the same time, and are still going strong today.


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Nobuyoshi Araki, Videos

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2011, May 19
How to make a book with Tosei-sha

You may have seen the trailer for the film “How to Make a Book With Steidl,” which looks like essential viewing for people interested in photobooks. (Despite being posted on some “major” blogs, the trailer only has 10,000 views, which I guess says something about the overall popularity of the field.) I haven’t seen the movie yet, but last week I went with Tosei-sha’s Takahashi Kunihiro to watch him make Deguchi Kozue’s book “緑絽” (Ryokuro), or loosely translated, “Green Gauze.” Takahashi-san uses a couple of different printing companies, but this time a small group of us piled into his van and drove to Tokyo’s Toppan Insatsu (凸版印刷), one of the largest printing presses in Japan.

Takahashi-san has made a name for himself as a master black and white printer: he’s been doing it for 20 years, and his trademark move is blending the black and gray inks himself. For this book, he used a black ink containing 60% red and 40% blue, and a gray ink with 5 different colors that I’ve completely forgotten. I say “the black had 60% red and 40% blue,” but I’m not really sure what that means technically. Obviously the ink looks black, but I don’t know if we’re talking about blue “hues” or “pigments” here.

Deguchi’s book has 50 images on 100 pages, so the goal for this day was for her to sign off on 7 sheets, each containing 4 images. Deguchi and Takahashi would then go back the next day to finish up the rest. In the photo above, Deguchi and Takahashi are reviewing a test sheet, literally hot off the press, with the print operators. If there are any adjustments to be made, the operators will come back about 15 minutes later with the next version.

The pensive-looking Italian gentleman in the right of this photo is Pierfrancesco Celada, who was here working on a long-term project on Japanese cities. His site is worth visiting, he has a very good eye.

I didn’t realize this, but to make something appear brighter on the page, you actually add black to it. Say that you have something that’s 10% white and 90% black. The difference between the two is 80%. If you double the black, then you have 20% and 180%, which makes for a much bigger difference. There’s actually more black there, but the eye perceives it as being more white. This is all according to Takahashi-san at least, the numbers sound a bit sketchy but I think that perhaps the percentage shouldn’t be taken too literally.

The workstation on the factory floor. Here’s a video showing the printing machine whirring up and sending the sheets through. As it got going, the head of the department said to me, “man, I never get tired of watching this…”

With this machine, you can bump up the ink levels, limiting the affected area to only a certain part of the sheet. The control isn’t pixel-level, of course.

The black knobs here correspond to the levels that were set on the machine above.

These are the plates for the black and gray ink. They’re flexible, so that they can grab the ink, then roll it on to a rubber roller, which in turn rolls it on to the paper.

That’s Deguchi-san on the left, and Tomomi Matsutani on the right. Matsutani-san is a young photographer who has published a couple of interesting zines, and helped run Onaka Koji’s Gallery Kaido during 2010.

Takahashi-san looks like he’s having a miserable time here, but that’s not the case at all. The whole day was stress-free, and even though there’s a lot of downtime waiting for the revisions to come back, there was good banter back and forth between everyone to keep things interesting.

The man in his element.


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Tosei-sha, Videos

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2011, Apr 21

A day after photojournalists Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros were killed in Libya, it doesn’t seem like a good time to post about Japanese art photography. Maybe after the weekend. I haven’t seen Hetherington’s film Restrepo yet, but after reading Bryan’s post I think I need to see it soon. The trailer is here.

01 blog posted this video today. Hetherington wrote, “‘Diary’ is a highly personal and experimental film that expresses the subjective experience of my work, and was made as an attempt to locate myself after ten years of reporting. It’s a kaleidoscope of images that link our western reality to the seemingly distant worlds we see in the media.”


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2009, Apr 24
Moriyama video; rad film case; etc


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Daido Moriyama, Videos

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