Narahashi to Shibata to Araki to nuclear explosions
A number of probably lesser known Japanese photographers have caught my eye recently (i.e. not Sugimoto, Tomatsu, Kawada, Moriyama). Many of them, like those known, have aesthetic sensibilities fundamentally different from what’s traditionally come out of the West: where the Western tradition seems interested in the ordering of things, as though to make fictions and, well, proverbial storefronts out of our surroundings; the Japanese tradition seems inclined towards exploring the natures of chaos and minimalism (often in the same abstract breath) – and seeing these differences as a product of the literal landscapes our respective cultures inhabit is not a far stretch to make I think – but broad generalizations are just that, simple and sweeping and not worth much more than a starting point, so continue as you will to where you will.
It was Asako Narahashi’s series, half awake and half asleep in the water, that brought this train of thought to mind.
The water theme is nearly archetypal in Japanese photography, like Sugimoto’s seascapes, or Toshio Shibata’s studies of damns and water. Sugimoto’s are beautiful in an everyone-loves-them sorta way, but Shibata’s water photographs touch on something primordial, like you’ve accidentally stepped in on G_d half way through an act of creation:
And you saw it coming, but I can’t help it, how can we talk about this w/o Araki?
Flowers and knots you old boyscout you!
Not that that has anything to do with water…but I mention Araki b/c there still a sensibility there that’s ubiquitous between the Japanese photographers, and, yes, it’s something more than deep blacks. It’s something else born from that small island with thick cities…maybe I’ll mention many critics noting of the remnants of what WWII did to the collective (sub)conscious. I’ve no idea…postulations…b/c I’ve never been. Ever. But I bring it up to segue to these two images that I wanted to post that were done with the Rapatronic camera, which was the first camera to be able to record an exposure in the nanosecond range. It could fire one frame, and these are ones a millisecond after a nuclear detonation.
(How incredibly iniquitous these are does not elude me.)