Sunday, February 25, 2007

Tokyo Love Hello

From an online exhibit sponsored by Slate and Magnum. You can find it here, although you may have to rummage through the archive.

A photograph is inherently alienating. It presents an image to a person who is removed from the source of that image, and it arrests time in such a way that the picture seems to belong to history rather than present. The invention of the photograph and the works of early masters like Adams, Evans, and Steiglitz may belong to the modern, but the enterprise as a whole is postmodern -- disjointed and cracked, with images that subvert their own codes. It is these qualities, in addition to reproducibility, that make photography an ideal medium for the web.

If "Tokyo, Love, Hello" were a novel, the writer would be Murakami. If it were in a museum, I would buy tickets and take friends. It feels like performance art, like avant garde filmmaking, like art. It echoes my experience of much of the world, but does so with incredible specificity of image and place. Shinjuku montage, stuffed pandas, cigars, subways. How to photograph disjuncture, ambiguity, and confusion yet still make the images precise? Try swan paddle boats, cats in boxing rings, corporate gymnastics, stairwells, monk telephones, ritual and neon.

The piece makes both Tokyo and photography an experience shared between artist and viewers. It makes misrecognition its subject, and thus acknowledges, pays tribute to, photography's many alienations.

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