In Edwin H. Land, built a massive sprawl of factories in Massachusetts to build a new generation of instant cameras that would be as affordable as the "pack cameras" that were pervasive in the market. He anticipated a compact camera that would become a tool as commonplace as a pencil. This was a harbinger not only for a new camera to be produced in his factories but also the digital revolution that would make manifest his prophecy, and thereby make his invention obsolete.
With the relaunch of the website, we felt it was time to consider creating a graphic form that could be used in the various different types of projects that we do, which is fairly varied in format, medium, and means of distribution. Toward that end, we reached out to a designer we’ve had the good fortune to work with over the past couple of years: Hideki Inaba. The creation of this shape is our fourth project with Inaba. In the past, we invited him to create the key graphic for the Shashin Festival: Photography from Japan (held at the New York Public Library in April 2015), design the photobook "Sohei Nishino: Tokyo” (published by IMA), and design the icon for the amana collection (a corporate collection of contemporary photography from Japan, for which I am the chief director). Inaba will also be the art director for our forthcoming book on Japanese photography, scheduled for published in the fall of 2017.
In April 2015, I invited photographer Daisuke Yokota and musician Aki Onda to combine their talents to produce a performance, which we did inside the New York Public Library. Onda created an improvisational soundscape using the auditorium’s acoustics and the massive amplifiers we rented. Yokota projected his images across three screens, using two 35mm slide projectors and a digital monitor. Even though Onda’s sound was improvisational, Yokota’s images were pre-programmed. I produced a second performance in October 2015 with photographer Kenta Cobayashi withsound by Yuuki Takada and curated by Newfave’s Kohei Oyama. I won’t describe too much of what’s happening but the idea here was to go beyond treating the audio as background music or a soundtrack. I am looking to make two more performances that explore this porous relationship between sound and image. Perhaps these will turn into a suite of four performances? I’m not exactly sure what I am searching for but there seems to be plenty more room for exploration.
The performances started happening because I wanted to figure out a way to have people experience what I regularly experience in working with photographs and photographers. The performance space that the event participants share with the photographer becomes an opportunity to experience photography on a level that hadn’t been possible before. And that interactive element made something that is otherwise a finished thing — e.g., the framed print on a wall or the printed and bound photobook— something that was malleable.
That experiential process of editing, cutting, sequencing or whatever action is brought into play is a means of slowing down what otherwise happens at such a high speed that it doesn’t register as an experience. The viewer, when looking at a (good) photograph, completes the process initiated by the photographer. Looking can be transformative. In unpacking that process of building macro structures such as composition, sequence, or edit, the participants have the opportunity to move their hands and solve problems. That form of praxis is what editors, researchers, and authors are generally privy to in working with photographs. The performances started as my way to have others to plug into similar experiences in an organized (read as “sustained chaos”) sort of way.
But soon enough, performances became another “thing” and that initial excitement and wonderment that the participants were engaging in some new form kinda passed and my interest in performance as a vehicle of extension passed similarly. But recently, I’ve started experimenting with the idea of clashing sound and photography and there’s a part of me that thinks there may be something there to explore. Or maybe not.
Photography is for the questioning mind.
It does not require answers but it needs to ask questions.
The correlative of the question is not necessarily an answer. Sometimes it is sufficient to don’t know and to acknowledge that we do not know. Sometimes believe able to question is an act of power and rebellion. Questioning authority. Questioning established wisdom. Questioning laws. And at times, a question can be an act of hope. Perhaps there is something that we have missed. Perhaps there is more to come. Perhaps the story that we have constructed is concealing a truth that is un-storied and lies beyond the construction and format of a story’s need for completion. Perhaps, at times, an answer is the very thing that we don’t need.
May 3rd, 2012
International Center of Photography, New York
To commemorate Daido Moriyama's receipt of the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the International Center of Photography Infinity Awards, an special edition of his photobook COLOR was available exclusively at the ICP Bookshop on May 3rd. Each buyer of the special edition chose one 3.5" x 5" c-print that I inserted by hand into the book's front cover. I then stamped the book's title using a rubber stamp and then passed the book to Moriyama who then signed each copy.
The trade edition of COLOR was published by Getsuyosha.
Event Images © Ben Jarosch, Courtesy of the International Center of Photography, New York
Japanophiles: Ivan Vartanian
This time, another installment of our special talk-show series Japanophiles, featuring lively interviews with foreigners living in Japan. Ivan Vartanian, a photobook producer from the US, has won the trust of Japan's leading photographers. In Japan, photobooks are artworks in their own right. Vartanian collaborates with photographers, turning their visions into photobooks - which often go beyond the conventional book format. We'll see how he's continually seeking out new modes of expression.
Photos by David in den Bosch
John Baldessari image installed on the facade of a former prison in Vevey, Switzerland.
Over a couple of intermittently raining days in Kobe, Japan, David Favrod and I collaborated on a shoot that was part of the Cardinal Points, a project produced by Festival Images, Vevey.
The six shots we did in various parts of Kobe were based on David's "Hikari" series, which addresses ideas of being a gaijin (Japanese for "foreigner" or "outsider"), personal history, and recollection.
As this project was a return to Kobe for David, the his ideas about Japan and the reality of being here came together in this project. In this sense, the six shots we did in Kobe were an installation as well as a performance of David's work. Initially, we thought of having the acrylic panels set into position and then shot with a tripod. But it became immediately apparent that David needed to be in the shots to underscore his return to Kobe and also to serve as a counterpoint to the HIKARI series.
The several of the graphic motifs are katakana words lifted from manga. People who watched us do the shoots were very curious about what we were doing. Some people, when they saw the katakana for "dokaaan!!" acted out the sound. The sounds that David incorporated into his photography have a very strong and visceral power for the Japanese. Grown men were all of a sudden transformed into little kids acting out the sound effects.