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About

This website wants to start a conversation on the photobooks shown at CONTEMPORARY JAPANESE PHOTOBOOKS running from 13 July - 9 September 2012 at the Photographer's Gallery, London curated by photographer Jason Evans and Tokyo-based publisher Ivan Vartanian.

Please comment on the books you have seen, join in on the discussions or start your own topic on the broader theme of Japanese photobooks.

For more information on the show, please visit the exhibition's website.

 

本サイト「>CONTEMPORARY JAPANESE PHOTOBOOKS」とは、ロンドンのPhotographers' Galleryで開催された展覧会(7月14日〜9月9日)の姉妹企画です。イギリス人の写真家ジェーソン・エヴァンス(Jason Evans )とゴリーガ社のアイヴァン・ヴァルタニアン(Ivan Vartanian)による、2人のキューレーションで行われてます。コンメントの投稿、トピック作りでも、ご自由に参加して下さい。日本語でも可能です。

 

The Photographers

The difference between Japanese and Western Photobooks

This evening, I did a talk event with the writer Akiko Otake at the Educational Foundation Bunka Gakuen. Folks in Japan repeatedly ask me what is the difference between Japanese and Western photobooks, as one audience member asked this evening, to which I replied:

The western photobook, general speaking, is an assembly of reproductions. At some point the photograph made a master set of prints and the work of the publisher is to create something that approaches as closely as possible those prints. 

The photobook in Japan, on the other hand, is not viewed as a series of reproductions. Instead, it is through the form of the photobook (or the magazine!) that the image is given a form (ink resting on the paper’s surface). It is that duality of the image in its printed printed (mediated) form that makes the photobook in itself the photographer’s work. In this sense, each photobook, though is produced in lots of thousands, is itself an original. That level of photobook culture is what distinguishes how the photobook is understood/consumed in Japan versus the west. 

Also, I find that many if not most photographers in Japan are comfortable with their work remaining ambitious and/or inscrutable. It’s not that they are putting on airs or trying to be cool. It has more to do with being comfortable with indecision, lack of resolution, the breakdown of categorization. This all has to do more with the differences in culture as reflected through the form of the photobook. 

Even though the magazine culture here in Japan is drying up, I still see a lot of folks inheriting the legacy of the masters.

Tags The Photographers' Gallery contemporary japanese photobooks contemporaryjapanesephotobooks discussions submission