Friday, April 13, 2007

Masao Yamamoto

or Yamamoto Masao - depending on how you chose to render Japanese names - is another one of the Japanese photographers who catch my eye. He seems to manage to catch fleeting glances and peripheral ephemera of the world around him. He has a pretty good website with lots of pictures (many are presented in the combinations he uses for exhibitions and in some of his books), as well as a number of essays.:

"A box of sky? An box of emptiness? A box of space? When I first held this book of photography that is like a thin box, I hesitated for a moment. When I looked at the other side, the words kunohako ["A box of Ku"] were noted, and as I pronounced the Japanese readings over and over, I thought that no matter what reading I choose, each leaves a "hidden meaning," and the rich resonance fascinated me. Then for some reason, When I gazed at the characters spelled out in Japanese. I thought of an empty space of "Nothingness" residing in the box, yet when I looked at the alphabet spelling, I imagined countless items of some form called "Ku" filling the box to the brim. This title, which seems very simple at a glance, had already started making slow ripples in the "lake of premonition'' within me before I even opened the book.

It popped into my head to look up the word "Image" in the dictionary. "Picture. Shape or form that floats into one's heart. Figure." The works of Masao Yamamoto in fact do not necessarily reflect the phenomenon of " A Shape or form that appears and can be seen," but rather produce a personal "image" that makes one want to say, "The truth is he returned to the world of the spirit to sneak this photo!"

Almost all the photographs are in black and white, but to be honest, of all the photos I have Seen until now, these black and white photos gave me the strongest sense of "color" that I have ever had. And conversely, looking at the very few color photographs that appear, I wanted to say, "How clear and transparent.." with a sigh. This reminds me of a time when I saw a dream with vibrant colors and someone brusquely dismissed it with, "There are no colors in dreams." These images that go freely back and forth between the wold of color and non-color may indeed themselves be ''dreams."..."


"I asked the artist about this attentiveness, and though he replied that he is loathe to try and describe his work in words ("I believe it would mean little if my works could be perfectly explained by words. "), he offered the following thoughts. " I live everyday, feeling deities in all and sundry, trying to always be in appreciation of them. Perhaps this is the aesthetic of my life. And since photography for me is equivalent to the very basic living necessities, such as food and sleep, this aesthetic applies to that of my photography. Though I am not sure if this is any kind of 'philosophy'... What originally had been produced in the process of my enjoying life though 'the search after beauty' was, at some point, sublimated into something worthy of presentation to you and other viewers.""

Unfortunately he's published mainly by Nazraeli Press in the West who delight in putting out gorgeously produced but generally hyper expensive beautiful editions of his books... so I haven't had a chance to look at some of his more interesting accordion fold or scroll books. I especially like the idea of A Path of Green Leaves

POSTSCRIPT - well, here's a nice piece of synchronicity. One of my favourite photo blogs was the space in between but for over six months it was inactive. It has great posts in the archives on all sorts of things photographic (including a great resource on William Eggleston among others). I had pretty much figures it had reached the end of its natural life but gave it another quick check today - the first in ages. And there was a new post about the personal aesthetic of which a big chunk is about Yamamoto. Stacy Oborn says this about him, which I find delightful:

"i don't know this for certain, but i think that yamamoto allows the gallery to decide how his work is to be shown, with perhaps a few sentences about his working philosophy and thinking. when i spoke to an assistant at j.f.a., she told me that the photographs arrived at the gallery minus any of the usual fuss and precocious preciousness surrounding the transport of contemporary art. they were stuffed unceremoniously into a box, all sitting on top and intersecting with one another. i imagined a cigar box stuffed to the brim with someone's old and aging personal history, closed with a thick rubber band on the outside."

Hopefully Stacy will add a few more more posts to the space in between ...

Postscript 2:

Julian provided the following addition link (if you click on one of the framed works, it pulls up bigger views of all the images) - cool


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

I've liked his stuff for a long time. When I was doing the UrPlace pics I was very tempted to montage indiviual photos onto card, but somehow lacked the courage. I'm working on a series about the move to democracy in spain, photographing unmarked mass graves of those executed by the guardia, graves of serviceman serving in Afghanistan where the 'wrong' body was given to the family, together with other examples of similar attitudes, and I'm thinking seriously about how I can present this. Instead of producing a series I might make one or two pieces only in this kind of 'constructed' manner, maybe even combine artefacts in the construction. Although I get scared even thinking about it! Too far removed from being a photographer! But thanks for reminding me of this guys work... food for more sleepless nights, although I did dream last night about how I could make it work - just need to remember the dream!