Photography and Japan (Exposures) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2011/5/15
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In Photography and Japan, Karen Fraser argues that the diversity of styles, subjects, and functions of Japanese photography precludes easy categorization along nationalized lines. Instead, she shows that the development of photography within Japan is best understood by examining its close relationship with the country s dramatic cultural, political, and social history.
Photography and Japan covers 150 years of photography, a period in which Japan has experienced some of the most significant events in modern history and made a remarkable transformation from an isolated, feudal country into an industrialized, modern world power a transformation that included a striking rise and fall as an imperial power during the first half of the twentieth century and a miraculous economic recovery in the decades following the devastation of World War II. The history of photography has paralleled these events, becoming inextricably linked with notions of modernity and cultural change.
Through thematic chapters that focus on photography s role in negotiating cultural identity, war, and the documentation of urban life, Photography and Japan introduces many images that will be unfamiliar to Western viewers and provides a broadened context for those photos that are better known."
Karen Fraser is assistant professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Santa Clara University in California. Her articles have appeared in such journals as History of Photography, Encyclopedia of Nineteenth Century Photography, The History of Japanese Photography, and Rutgers Art Review."
The author mentions the most important Japanese photographers, whether they are from the Meiji Period or the present day. The book is also heavily illustrated in color, making it very interesting to thumb through.
Thus, it is a great introduction to Japanese photography for everyone. The book has an Introduction, and then only three chapters. Chapter One centers on people and portraits, Chapter 2 focuses on wartime photography, and Chapter 3 is about cityscapes and street photos. It's not a massive, intimidating book. You can probably read it in a few hours.
In the Introduction, the author asks the basic question, "What is Japanese photography?" This is a question I've wrestled with myself before. I pretty much define it as photography created by a Japanese national and/or images of Japan and the Japanese. Of course, there are inherent flaws with this definition, but I have been using it as a basic guideline
Instead of trying to define what Japanese photography is, the author has pursued to link photography in Japan with Japan's social history. She shows how Japanese photography is distinctive through its reflection of Japan's social history. This makes it a very interesting read as you learn about both Japanese photography history and Japanese social history.
About Shigeo Gocho's "Familiar Street Scenes," the author says: "Shot from eye level and below (many seem to be chest- or waist-high views) without using the viewfinder. . . "(pp.142-143) This remark is strange given that in the endnote she refers to the exhibition catalogue of Gocho's 2003 solo-exhibition in which the curator suggests that because of the illness Gocho suffered from in his childhood he "was smaller than other adults. His height was in the mid-140 cms." Then, her following remark, "Because of the technique used, the subjects rarely meets the gaze of the photographer, and the resulting images feel somewhat surreptitious" does not really make sense.