It has been noted that Edward Hopper is the artist of the pandemic. This evening his “Office in a Small Town” floated past in the unending stream of images that make up the current ‘net experience.
It really does have a great sense of isolation / loneliness. For me there was some other flicker of recognition. A photograph that is oddly similar.
This was taken at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (都庁) building West Shinjuku in 2009. At that particular time the only Edward Hopper work that i would have known was “Nighthawk”.
Somehow many of the elements of “Office in a Small Town” have ended up repeated here. There must be something about the composition / proportions makes it “work”. However, it is strange for them to be so similar and yet so far apart in time, medium and feeling.
The photograph was originally “Untitled”, but now deserves a title… “Shiver and Shake”.
Been spending a lot of time working through old pictures for the next I Wrote This For You book. The image above (from the entry ‘The Untouchable City’), taken from top of Roppongi Hills, with 黄砂 (こうさ) on the glass, has really stayed with me!
Now i want to get it printed A2 and on a wall… maybe with the oddness in th bottom left cropped out.
‘Lone salaryman’ shots, with a film noir look are another part of the repertoire that i’ve picked up from Sean Wood. It’s good to have creative friends. All that said, i don’t think he’d have taken the shot this way… so while the theme might be “borrowed” the execution feels very me (for good or bad, i still can’t say…)
Sean and i have had an interesting time giving and taking inspiration. I’d like to think that it made both of us better photographers, but even if it didn’t i got a lot of enjoyment from shooting together, and even more from discussing the results over a beer!
This one is another from 2009 (still a good year) and was taken in Odaiba, probably around one of the big wedding hotels.
Another chance to lax wyrical about the joys of photography in Tokyo. I’ve probably said it all already, but it really was the great photographic city of my life (“so far”, he muttered hopelessly…) The density and craziness of the non-planned sprawl, the completely mind-numbing overload of signs, signals, noise, directions, distractions… it all adds up to a wonderland of alice like proportions.
Was apparently taken in September of 2009, in or around a place labelled ‘両国’ which is now unreadable to me, but looks suspiciously like the area where the sumo happens… just looked it up: Ryougoku, where the sumo happens. How about that.
A slightly off kilter Infrared 代々木 (Yoyogi) crossing shot from 2009. Rails on the busy lines (this is yamanote or saikyo-sen… maybe) are a lot more curved than you might imagine. If i can find this negative it’s one of the ones that would be nice to hang in the house. Düster!
Starting to think that 2009 was a very creative year. Quite where the time came from to shoot and develop all this film remains a mystery.
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!
This started back in 2007 with a digicam shot taken in Yoyogi (on the crossing near the NTT Docomo syringe tower). As noted in that post, it wasn’t something i’d thought of as square, but became that way due to the camera strap being in the top part of the frame. Oops.
Apparently it made quite the impression on me, and getting the reflection of the overhead cables in the rails became a minor obsession. The example above isn’t my favourite, which is probably why it languished unseen for five years. Even though the cables make an interesting pattern in the sky, and the reflection in the rail is clear, the shot is probably a little too wide, therefore lacking the density that would give it more impact. There are several other examples that work better.
Taken (literally!) on the Sangenjaya line (三軒茶屋線) on the way back from a pizza lunch at Tonino‘s in Shimotakaido (下高井戸). The pizza was good, cheese-less(!), but often accompanied by a few beers that needed walking off…
Another one of those shots where nothing is in focus, maybe there is camera shake, and it shouldn’t really work. Yet, somehow, it evokes a mood which i really like. So, er, “works for me!”
Going solely off the file name, it was taken in Hibiya, or between Hibiya and Yurakucho, in 2009. There is a little row off shack like izakayas, near where the railway line cuts across the main road at an angle… i could be describing just about anywhere in central Tokyo.