The Dizzying Descent…


[sing along if you know the words...]

One of the themes that runs through a great deal of my Tokyo shots is this ’tilt’. To me it has always about the geometry – if the lines / curves running through a frame are strong the shot works. My theory is that by tilting the world off it’s normal axis these lines / curves stand out more because the viewer is thrown off by the angle, and it requires effort to take in the scene. The first glance might not immediately reveal the reality of the shot, and at that point the geometry is more obvious.

There are a couple of obvious problems: the explanation sounds like a bunch of “art wank”; it’s very easy to overuse or abuse.

Still, i’d always imagined it would be fun to do a gallery show with only these shots and see how many people gave up and just tilted heads to compensate!

[This one doesn’t really work for me – there is too much dead space in the top right of the frame. If the effect in the bottom left was repeated top right… but there was no light.]


Giza (not Ginza) by the Bay

Tokyo Big Sight

While working on my shots for the second Fragments of Tokyo there were a lot of attempts that simply wouldn’t work out. These mostly got posted on flickr under the monicker “Various Failures” (shamelessly stolen from The Swans album of the same name), which mostly prompted people to tell me to that they liked them, and that it wasn’t a failure.

What i was really trying to get across was that the shots were a failure in the context of what i wanted to show in the exhibition. Some simply happened too late, others didn’t really fit in with the general feeling, other needed to be re-attempted.

That exhibition was the first time that i’d really worked with a vision of what should be on the walls firmly fixed in my head. The process was in turn endlessly enjoyable, frustrating, and exhausting.

Tokyo Big Sight was an attempt to see a little differently through perspective and bring the pyramids to Tokyo Bay. As you can see above it didn’t really work out. There is definitely a time of day, a focal length where it could have been made to work… but that never coincided with any of my attempts to have it happen! There are, of course, numerous others that will never see the light of day.

One day i’ll go back and get it right… shame it’s such a pain in the arse to get to!


In order to fulfill a request for a high quality scan (more ragged trousered philanthropy on my part…) i’ve been looking at an old (01.09) of negatives and wondering how to do a better job of scanning them.

They are obviously over exposed, and have always scanned with a huge amount of grain. It has always seemed to be that it’s easier to rescue underexposed negatives when scanning, the opposite when printing. With some experimentation i’ve managed to badger Silverfast into giving me what, to me at least, is an interesting result.

Enoshima_0006Enoshima_0003Enoshima_0004 Enoshima_0005

Really like the feel of them now. An uneasy nostalgia.

Another situation where i fought with myself over whether or not to crop. There is nothing (?!) that annoys me more than un-intentionally off horizons, and yet i can’t bring myself to make the cuts!

Enoshima, Japan. January 2009. Hasselblad 503cw, CFE 80mm, Ilford SFX 200 @200, with an R72 Infrared Filter. Developed in Rodinal.

Think i’d like to print one of the last two… decisions, decisions.

Japanese Lies

A book review via The Gude. I say ‘book review’ but it is really more of a heartfelt diatribe:

And yes, I did see the islands of Matsushima the second time around. The skies were clear. I listened to the guide explaining the splendid sights. The tourists around me didn’t seem to be paying much attention to what she said. Well, well, I thought, Japan has changed. Then I realized they were all Chinese.

Having read it i have no idea if the books being reviewed are any good, and will have to resort to buying them to find out. That said, i have a great deal of sympathy with the tone of said diatribe, and recommend reading it.

Do let me know if you’ve come across either of the books, and can make a case for them being purchased / avoided. In theory i’ve had my fill of westerners having a japanese navel gaze.

The End of the DPJ?

It is somewhat sad. A case where the promise of change has evaporated in the face of the white heat of bureaucratic intransigence. On the other hand, it was certainly one of the more likely outcomes. As usual i feel a fool for having been even remotely optimistic. Japanese politics is a cruel game…

Over at the Shisaku blog, there is some hand wringing, and it’s not hard to sympathize. In the end it realistically comes down to this:

“Why not hold an election then? If all the first-termers and lefties fry, so what? We will just take our place at the table as the Noda Faction of the LDP.”

A level of cynicism and disregard for public service that you almost have to admire… still, have to hope that the public at least see some sport in trying to break Abe again. One might reasonable suggest that there are tough times ahead for japanese progressives – it’s going to be a long slog through the wilderness while the rightwing popularism sweeps the nation back to the dawn of the Meiji era.

Edit: as an aside, i have some sympathy with the idea that Japan should attempt to become a more normal state (one of the popularist goals) but very little sympathy with the idea that imperialist throwbacks like Abe, Aso, Ishihara, Hashimoto, et al. are the means to achieve such a normalization.

All they want is a de facto remilitarization (via constitutional change) of Japan. This seems like suicide in a region dominated by a resurgent China. And as the voice of progressives is essentially inaudible over the blaring sirens of these blowhards, more radical options to achieve a regional power balance aren’t even discussed. Improved relations / cooperation with China and the Koreas are unquestionably the only way forward, but that is trumped by the right’s (unachievable) desire to return to empire, and need for the US to maintain a client state as counter-balance to China.

From Brokdorf to Fukushima

A long and interesting piece in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists on the nuclear phase out in Germany. Along with being a good summary of the what, when, where, who, and why, there is this:

What is remarkable about these early events is that the opposition to the Brokdorf and the Wyhl projects did not explicitly target nuclear power per se, or even focus on particular issues of nuclear power, such as reactor safety or waste disposal (Radkau, 1983: 458). Instead, the early opposition movement largely developed in response to the nontransparent and authoritarian style in which the federal government pursued its big-industry projects, exemplified by excessive use of police force.

Which should probably have parallels in Japan, not so much with excessive use of force, japanese police tactics are more subtle, and one might say insiduous, but the “nontransparent and authoritarian” part is spot on.

It is clear at this point that nuclear is not a cheap, risk free, ‘too cheap to meter’ supply of energy, and the discussion really needs to move on to why national governments are so enthralled with the interests that would like to pretend otherwise.

ps. arrived back from Japan last weekend, but my brain has only just turned up. It seems to be taking longer and longer for it to make the journey across Siberia…