Friday, 19 March 2010

Yokosuka - 1971 - My Chosen Image

The name of the photographer: Daido Moriyama

The date the image was made:1971

Nationality of the photographer: Japanese
Gender of the photographer: Male

The form in which the image was published: Silver Gelatin Print

The photographers agenda: Moriyama attempts to show another side of Japan. One that a lot of foreigners don't know about. Like how Henri Cartier-Bresson made us think about the decisive moment in which to take an image, Daido Moriyama makes us question the subject of our image.

Where the image was made: A city south west of Tokyo called Yokosuka.

How the image was made and any significance attached to the equipment choice: Possibly using a Ricoh GR1. There is much discussion on the web as to what camera Moriyama uses and this is the camera that the majority of people agree on. Moriyama uses a very high ASA film, usually 1600 whether it is day or night. He will deliberately underexpose the image and then overdevelop it in the darkroom. In doing this he creates images with unnatural qualities such as exaggerated shadows and a high contrast.

The social and political environment in which it was constructed: At this time, certain areas of Japan were very rundown whereas other parts were very industrialised. Also during this time, universities became a lot more friendly towards students. Employers treated their workers with more respect as if they were equal. This had a good influence on family relationships and social welfare.


When looking at this image, your eyes are immediately drawn to the person because of the leading lines. Although the subject is facing away from the camera you can tell she is female due to the dress and her slender limbs. Her position suggests that she is running which considering her whereabouts looks very painful. It’s quite hard to see exactly what she is running on. It looks like sand which wouldn’t be impossible because Yokosuka is a city right by the sea. Amongst the sand is what appears to be seaweed, corrugated iron and various pieces of rubbish have been scattered all over the place. You are given a very small portion of the surroundings so it is hard to decipher exactly where she is.

Through the image ‘Yokosuka’ Moriyama has shown another side of Japan. He has attempted to show that his culture wasn’t always as ‘high-tech’ as it seems to be today. We tend to picture Japan as being this ever developing country. One that is rich and full of possibilities. We aren't used to seeing images like this. The subject is running on a platform made entirely of rubbish and is surrounded by what look like large metal storage containers. When you think of Japan the words ‘ Tokyo, geisha and sushi’ all come to mind, not a filthy rundown area like the one in my chosen image. Simply glancing at this image wouldn’t be enough to tell its location. Which reinstates Moriyama attempting to show another side of Japan. It's as if the subject has been stripped of her identity because she could quite easily be from another part of the world.

On another note, the photograph looks like it was taken at night due to the high contrasting shadows in the distance. If this is so then it is awfully strange how a woman would be out in nothing but a short white dress. She's not even wearing shoes. What purpose does she have there? If she were in fact homeless then she’d be covered up a lot more, dirty and dishevelled so maybe she is actually a prostitute. You can’t see anyone else in the image but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t. This would explain what she is wearing and why she is running away.

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