"working on my faults and cracks..."

10.14.2008

den-den to nowhere

I've been in and around Japan for almost 5 years now, and if that cavernous black hole of time has taught me anything, it's that Japan is a consistently difficult place to photograph. While it may be set against some of the richest scenery and architecture the world has to offer, when you spend all your time navigating tricky viewfinder angles to crop out bothersome pedestrians, telltale concrete, obnoxious signage, or the ever-present crisscrossing electric lines, you start to wonder if the Japanese are even aware of what they've clearly spent the last 100 years systematically ruining:


At the same time however, I've decided that the "crop and avoid" photographic strategy effectively denies its subjects the honesty they so deserve. For example, without these power lines, you just have some lazy clouding, scattered across a Monday afternoon's fading daylight. All assumptions considered, this could just as easily be sunset over any European or North American city.
But with the power lines, you have the one thing that makes this photo more distinctly "Japanese" than any seaside, shrine, or mountain that could have appeared in its place.

The reality of it is sad; as any inevitable reality should be. But even reality, when taken at face value, can potentially produce a photograph that manages a subtle measure of zen--a distinct elegance at the end of a meandering, Japanese clusterfuck.

2 contributions to this piece:

Sarah said...

I took so many pictures of power lines when I was living in Kumamoto.

Down by Gifu station they've finally buried most of the power lines, and it's creepy the first time you realize "Hey, this is the only place in the city without visible power lines."


It would be bizzaro world if Japan buried all of it's lines though. Wouldn't be Japan anymore...

Dagbert said...

Yeah, I've been kind of obsessing on them lately for some reason. Funny that it's the one obstruction you don't notice until it's gone. Shouldn't it be the other way around?

 
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