Psychogeographies – A Japanese connection

Ohh some new names and an old one...Anders Petersen, Jacob Aue Sobol and Daido ‘Stray Dog’ Moriyama.

The former apparently, have been influenced by the latter, to produce photographs in a continuous stream of consciousness (usually translated as B/S :oX) that is before I go look, so I won’t pre-judge… Moriyama is cited as being a co-founder of the magazine Provoke… what they don’t tell you is he joined for the second issue and it only lasted for three…lies, damn lies n statistics…

So, linked by are, bure, and bokeh…or translated as rough, blurred and out of focus, these three photographers operate at the ‘limit of expression and coherence.’

Moriyama I know through having visited the Klein/Moriyama exhibition in 2013…it will be intriguing to see if my opinion has changed and what work the other two photographers have been producing…


Read Miranda Gavin’s review of Anders Petersen’s French Kiss and Jacob Aue Sobol’s I,Tokyo for Hotshoe Magazine.

Read ‘Bye, Bye Photography’ (AG Magazine#38) and research the work of Daido Moriyama.

Write a short reflective commentary about the connections between the three photographers styles.

Start thinking about the critical review… nooooooo brain is still on finishing this and assignment two…

Anders Petersen – French Kiss

As per usual a bit of research into the work before you read the review is always handy.

I like surreal, I like things that break the rules, that make me think, but I still have difficulty in computing this style of imagery. I can read as many reviews as possible telling me that ‘a plate of glistening oysters becomes an abrupt and luscious punctuation, generating notions of procreation and sustenance, particularly when placed between a close embrace and a solemn, unclothed portrait’ or ‘Yet, perhaps for that very reason the book rarely feels as untethered … a substantial series defined, not by the photographer, but by risk, openness and the energy of his subjects, by the depth and relationships, and by the uncertain prospect of reaching a steady tomorrow,’ and it still wont compute. My brain says…You what? What was it Solomon-Godeau said about ‘swooning aestheticism’?

I much prefer some of his other work such as Soho and du mich auch.

Miranda Gavin writes ‘it is impossible to separate the man from his work. It is as if the camera were a prosthetic eye, which has been hot-wired to his fertile imagination.’ I think I could suggest another part of his anatomy, but then life would be boring if we all liked the same thing. I return to the word of the day …scopophilia…I don’t wonder how he found his models, I want to know why he thinks I, or anyone else would want to look at a woman yanking her knickers to the side and flashing me her pubes, those who know me will assure you I am no prude! It doesn’t shock me; in looking at his previous work it’s not unexpected or unfamiliar, it just more of the same; naked bodies in grainy B&W gyrating and gurning at the camera.

Sontag (2008. p,12-13) quotes Arbus as saying ‘I always thought photography as a naughty thing to do – that was one of my favourite things about it…’ Sontag then speculates that professional photographers seek out the ‘disreputable, taboo,marginal’ and we become gradually immune to them with ‘naughty subjects …harder to find’. Are photographers having ‘sexual fantasies behind the camera’. Is that the motivation? Or is it simply ‘Photographs only shock when they show something novel. Unfortunately, the ante keeps getting raised’. (2008, p.19)

Jacob Aue Sobol –  I,Tokyo

and his work Sabine

You can tell the difference between these bodies of work, there is a closeness, an intimacy in Sabine and a distance/isolation in I, Toyko. Once again we have the odd naked body thrown in for good measure. With Sabine I can understand why, in the others not so much so. You get a sense of space and place, although maybe not exactly what place. It is very difficult to draw a line between these two photographers but on reflection I think I prefer Sobol. He seems less voyeuristic.

Moriyama, I covered in the link above but found a YouTube Video of Bye Bye Photography

Badger’s review was favourable, highlighting the usual nihilism, avant-garde aspect of his imagery, the constant stream of consciousness. There is plenty of are, bure, and bokeh. So in comparing these three bodies of work, nopes I can’t see much difference. They are abstract, random, blurry, grainy, contrasty, a mix of quirky and banal, break all the rules, their only narrative is there is no narrative…well done them for making money out of it.

Although, on reflection, that all sounds a bit harsh. They intentionally set out to be different, thought provoking, to reveal a mixture of attractiveness and repulsiveness and an inner thought process. Sobol’s work in particular was likened to a free form poem and that I can understand, no rhyme or rhythm, no pattern but still a sense of purpose. All three photographers are trying to suggest a feeling, the concept of a place in time both physically and emotionally. Which ties in well with assignment two where we are asked to consider working on conceptual and abstract themes to convey a feeling.

Moriyama’s work is said to be ‘saturated with the melancholic beauty of life at its most ordinary. His photographs epitomize wabi-sabi, the Japanese aesthetic of finding beauty in imperfection..’ and with some I can see that, as Sontag put it ‘Nobody exclaims, “Isn’t that ugly! I must take a photograph of it.”In reality they mean: “I find that ugly thing…beautiful.”  (2008, p.85)

His style can be manic: ‘Comparing himself to a machine gun, Moriyama fires off his camera in rapid bursts of instinctive shooting.’  I do like his fly on the window image and his urban shots. I also don’t mind most of the eroticism..some of the really abstract and totally blown leave me cold.

In places they are quite visceral and continuing on my literary theme reminded me of Lord of the Flies. This was a book I had to read several times before I could appreciate the brilliance of the writing and the true reflection of the nature of man, I still don’t like the story, it makes me feel uncomfortable. Maybe this is the issue I have with this type of work? Not that it makes me feel uncomfortable, it doesn’t. Maybe I just don’t understand it yet. However, I do know I don’t appreciate the perceived misogyny and scopophilia, which the images don’t seem to be commenting against but rather perpetuating.

And this was timely…RIP John…





Here, S. (2012) Start here. Available at: (Accessed: 2 January 2017).

Here, S. (no date) Start here. Available at: (Accessed: 2 January 2017).

Moriyama, D. (2015) Biography: Documentary/street photographer Daido Moriyama. Available at: (Accessed: 3 January 2017).

Press, E. of P., Jeffrey, I. and Ian, J. (2005) Photography book: Mini edition. London: Phaidon Press.

Provoke (magazine) (2016) in Wikipedia. Available at: (Accessed: 2 January 2017).

Sobol, J.A. and LensCulture (no date) I, Tokyo – photographs by Jacob Aue Sobol. Available at: (Accessed: 2 January 2017).

SocietyI, C. (2016) I, Tokyo • Jacob Aue Sobol • magnum photos. Available at: (Accessed: 2 January 2017).

Sontag, S. (2008) On photography. London: Penguin Classics.


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