The Polaroid Book: selections from the Polaroid Collections of Photography is, as one might guess, a selection of Old, formerly existing Polaroid’s collection of prints. Sadly, New, currently-existing Polaroid (fka “Polaroid Originals,” fka the “Impossible Project”) no longer owns most of the collection: a quick Google at the time I unboxed the book shows it was largely/partly sold off, with some portion going to the Impossible Project, and so this little book is a document of something that no longer exists. Equally sadly, I believe the book is also out of print.Continue reading “‘The Polaroid Book’ – Steve Crist, ed.”
As a child of the 1980s, and one long steeped in the (very mainstream) counterculture of the late 1980s and early 1990s, I have a large and abiding soft spot for skateboarding and skateboard culture, and I have this soft spot despite not really ever having the coordination to skate at all….
YOD, the book from Um Yeah Arts, seems like it could be the name of a skate crew out of California, much like DSC is a skate crew out in Dallas…. It’s not, but it sure seems possible. Looking at the list of skaters (in the publisher’s blurb), I suspect I met some of them during my time hanging around with DSC. I certainly spent a bit of time with some fine members of MSK and SWR and MF, and who likely knew some of the people in the film and book, not that it matters.
The book appeared some time before, and served, I think, as a round of funding for a skate film called, appropriately enough, Ye Olde Destruction.*
I’m not sure I ever watched a skate film before; if I had it’s been a long time, and I expected more of a documentary. What I found, though, is a collection of skate videos made at various spots in California—swimming pools in abandoned neighborhoods; curb spots behind mini malls; actual skate parks; etc.—with running soundtrack from shoegaze-ish, noise rock duo No Age. The group travels about in 1970s Cadillacs, which they often park haphazardly on one side of a hip ramp, and then use as rails to grind and whatnot. The film even opens with a scene of the group skating the main car out in an abandoned neighborhood. One member pops up onto the hood, loses his footing—maybe on purpose—and rams his board through the windshield.
The book seems to be mostly stills from the film, and Campbell credits Brian Gaberman, Arto Saari, Jai Tanju, French Fred with some pictures. Running commentary appears throughout, scribbled over top of the images. and it would be more legible and more interesting—as a photobook—without the largely illegible notes scrawled across them. The notes are helpful, I guess, in that they note the tricks performed and who performed them, the photographer—if not Campbell himself—maybe locations, etc. I appreciate it as an example of combining text with image, and can see maybe doing something similarish, maybe, but in this particular case, I find it quite distracting.
Overall, Ye Olde Destruction rates a solid 4 stars.
At time of writing, copies of YOD remain available direct from Um Yeah Arts. IF you’re interested in skating as I am, maybe watch and enjoy the film first, and if you’re still interested, then pick up the book. It’s good, and the scribbled text contributes some to the whole “destruction” business, so maybe it’s more necessary than I want it to be. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the hour I spent watching the film, and the two or three hours I spent flipping through the book. I’m not sure how often I’ll return to it, but it’ll fit nicely into the library for sure.
*The book includes a link to a private VIMEO where one can view the film, and which the book requests to “Please keep the link to yourself, Thanks,” though at time of writing anyone can watch the film, so….
Works collects the best of Hiromix’s commercial work from 1995-2000, and it’s the latest and last Hiromix book in my collection. 😢
There may be other Hiromix books… I don’t know and I’m not going to go hunting as I’m (mostly) out of my impulse-photobook-buying phase, all praise and thanks be to God.
I’ll say right up front that it goes completely against my nature to review this particular Hiromix book last. I eat my spinach before I have my desert. Always. It’s a compulsion that I can’t seem to break; it means I eat loads of spinach and have far less desert than many others.
If I had my druthers, I’d be pitting the Steidl book or Girls Blue against Daido Moriyama’s excellent “Woman of the Night” series. (If you’ve been following along, I’ve been going Moriyama, Hiromix, Moriyama, Hiromix for a few months now.) It’s not that Works is bad… not at all. It’s just that it’s my least favorite of Hiromix’s excellent run of books, beginning with Girls Blue (1996) and continuing through Hikari (1997), Japanese Beauty (1997), Hiromix (Steidl, 1998), and… Ooo… I spoke too soon. smh. Hiromix Paris (1998) is on its way to me from Japan, God willing. Anyway. Works is the last in the run, and the belly band proclaims to be “HIROMIX’s the best selection for 5 years!” which I suspect is a slightly inaccurate translation, given that it seems to be a “best of” collection of her commercial portraiture.
The belly band provides a seemingly breathless list of participants, and there are brief bios of each, in Japanese, at the back of the book. I pointed the Google Translate app at the belly band and it spat out the following, about which I make no claims to accuracy, though I did recognize a few of the people straight away.
A handful of Hiromix’s more typical city scenes and random land- of sky-scapes are scattered throughout, and the book might’ve benefited from more of these to suggest something of a narrative, a night out or party or something. That said, many of the portraits are obvious, studio-type things that wouldn’t really play nice with such a (false) narrative…. Gah. Looking again, I’ve confused Works with some portions of Japanese Beauty, I think. There are studio images: in particular, a couple of images of shoes, and some of kids in strange costumes. But the majority seem to be just hanging out sorts of pictures; Hiromix with her friends again, but this time with Aphex Twin, Marilyn Manson, and the Beastie Boys alongside a bunch of probably eye-wateringly famous Japanese. And, really, Works can be read as a sort of extended night out, one that runs fairly continuously from late 1995 through 1999.
Hiromix scatters a few selfies throughout, at least one per year, plus a nice winking while brushing teeth at the end, just after dedicating the book to Takashi Homma and Nobuyoshi Araki. The back-matter of the book also includes an set of thoughts from Hiromix in Japanese, and of which the Google Translate app hasn’t made any sense; a list of participants and profession (sometimes), location, Agency, and notes on where the image appeared; and this sort of ouroboros depicting, I guess, Hiromix’s thoughts on photography and its purposes:
All in all, after flipping through Works again, I revise my earlier claim. The book probably really can stand adjacent to Moriyama’s “Woman…,” though the latter probably still outshines it. After all, for my money—and it was a substantial and repentance-requiring expense—the 5 books in the series make up a sort of summation of Moriyama’s work and certainly the best and most comprehensive overview I’ve seen.
Works is similar in that it features Hiromix’s inimitable style and her subject matter, put overtop of a bunch of famous people, many of which appear to be having a grand old time. And where the Moriyama series will run you better than $400, decent copies of Works run about $80 (albeit without the belly band), and it’s money well spent, really, unlike, perhaps, the Moriyama book since it’s arguable that all his pictures look the same…. I kid. Moriyama definitely has a style, and one that I sorta got really tired of, and then found my way back to. But Hiromix also has a style, and one with which I’ve been completely enamored for close to 20 years now.
Works isn’t Hiromix’s best, certainly. For that, see the Steidl book, which, at the time of writing, can be had for not much more than can Works. But work in Steidl stops in 1998, and Works has work through 1999 and includes a few of her super iconic pictures, one of which—the ice cream cone one—I had never actually seen before (and which doesn’t tickle my fancy to the extent it did for that Japanese reviewer back in 1995 or 96). All that to say: Works is a good one, and worth your time if you have any interest in varieties of portraiture or ways of presenting retrospective-type books. It’s going to sit proudly with the others on my shelves, for sure.
In late 2020 or early 2021, Akio Nagasawa announced a new, 4 volume series of silk-screened canvas-bound photobooks from Daido Moriyama. I immediately preordered the first, and kept an eye out for the other three. Ends up, there were 5 total and there’s a surprise sort of ending, sort of. Taken individually, I don’t have much to say about any individual volume; collectively, though, I think they may be the best thing Moriyama has released.
Head’s up: three of the 5 volumes contain a few NSFW photographs. Apologies: you’ll need to click through to watch the unboxings….
Each book contains a brief postscript from Moriyama in Japanese and English, all of which follos the same (or a very similar) format: “There was a woman called [Name] in [Location]. She was a person who loved [Thing(s)]. It’s already [unit of time] since [I saw her, she disappeared from, etc.]. Even now, I still think of her sometimes. This is a profile of her as she appears in my memory.” At first, this may not seem to mean much, but, trust me, the text is pivotal to the work.
Shinobu hung around in Shinjuku’s red light quarter and loved flowers. At time of publication, Moriyama hadn’t seen her in a decade. Guess what? The images show mostly (what I guess is) Shinjuku and flowers, with various close-ups of hands and feet, ear, shoulder, etc. of a woman (or women: it’s hard to tell), and mid- and full–length faceless portraits of the woman in various states of undress. As with all volumes in the series, I didn’t get it the first time, or the third, but it grew on me.
Hiroko loved ENKA (whatever that is) in Osaka’s Minami district. Moriyama hasn’t seen her in five years. Now. The Safari web browser auto-completes to https://enka.network, which has something to do with “Genshin Impact player cards,” whatever those are, and probably isn’t the ENKA that Hiroko loved…. Wikipedia gives ENKA as a recent style of Japanese music that has some traditional elements, and maybe the mix of images—flowers, again, but fewer this time; city scenes of mostly what appear to be bars and clubs, and of people on their way to bars and clubs; and more explicit, if still faceless portraits of a woman (or women)—backs up this reading.
Naomi loved cars. Moriyama often took her out for drives in and around the Nishiki area in Nagoya a few years ago. Now. One might expect images of cars and driving, but one would be wrong. There are, by my count, 5 pictures of cars. Perhaps another five were made from a car. Overall, though, there are many more images of flowers, including a garishly-colored gatefold that makes my stomach churn. There might be more images of advertising than in other volumes, but I didn’t count.
I expected Yukari to be the last book in the series. After all, original press claimed four volumes, and the text seems to back this up. “The woman who called herself Shinobu in Shinjuku, Hiroko in Minami, and Naomi in Nishiki, went by the name of Yukari in the Nakasu district of Fukuoka.” Aha. It’s all been a ruse!
““Someday, I’m gonna live in New York” – that’s what she always said.” So Moriyama missed her for a couple of years, then went into his archive and found a few rolls of half frame shots—I’m guessing—made in the City. Many pages show two sequential-seeming pictures in a nearly 4×3 aspect ratio that looks for all the world like half frame. Two obviously-sequential shots show Moriyama in a hotel room, taking miror selfies with an unidentifiable (by me) older camera that might be the Olympus Pen W he reportedly used in the early 1970s. Some of the pictures may have been made that long ago, based on the theater marquees in various images; others are far more recent, based on the Victoria’s Secret and other signage in Times Square and elsewhere, and I’m sure Moriyama—and or his editor(s)—mixed images from Moriyama’s long career for Yukari and other volumes. In fact, I believe a few images appear in multiple volumes. I noticed a couple during the flip-through portions of the unboxing videos, and think I saw more during my multiple trips through the different books.
Momoe was sort of a shock when it appeared. I expected four volumes, and found myself a bit peeved that I was going to have to buy another one….
She called herself Shinobu in Shinjuku, Hiroko in Minami, Naomi in Nishiki, Yukari in Nakasu.Moriyama, Daido. Momoe. Akio Nagasawa, Tokyo, 2021. https://www.akionagasawa.com/en/shop/books/akionagasawa/momoe/ 3 April, 2023.
Rumor has it that she is now living quietly in Ishikari where she was born, under the name she was given by her parents.
Momoe. I still think of her every once in a while.
Surprise, surprise, the pictures in Momoe depict smaller towns and some countryside. There’s even a picture of a horse. The woman appears fewer times, and in far less explicit poses than in some earlier volumes, and there are no color images at all. I suspect a few of the pictures came from the Tales of Tono period, but don’t really know, and I don’t see a huge amount to date things. If I was able to read the Japanese text, I’d probably know more, and if I cared more, I’d point Google Translate at a few pictures… Alas.
Taken individually, the different volumes are sorta typical Moriyama affairs, what with their mix of flowers, street scenes, advertising, cats and dogs, shoes, etc., prominent throughout. Taken together, though, I think the series something special. Maybe it’s just that I spent $500 to acquire it all new and want to justify it? Well, I spent that money over the course of 2021 and it’s now 2023, so that money is long gone and had I not wasted it on Moriyama books, I would’ve wasted it some other way, and may Allah forgive me and guide me to better. Really, I think this series marks a high point in Moriyama’s career; that it serves as a sort of magnum opus.
The narrative, such as it is, is less heavy-handed than some of his other works. The imagery is more varied—looking at the 5 books together—than a normal Moriyama book might be, though, and as I’ve said before, if you’ve seen a handful of Moriyama images, you’ve pretty much seen them all: there’s not much new in these pages, but the way the work comes together is quite special, I think.
Recommended, but the whole set is wildly expensive and honestly probably not worth it.
If you want just one, I’d go for Yukari or Momoe due to the variety and pace of the images. Yukari is zippy and heater-skelter, much like the City itself; Momoe is sorta more pastoral and slower, but with a sort of static energy, like a city-dweller coming home, or that sense of impatiently marking time that I sometimes feel in smaller towns. The others sorta blend together for me, and I think they’re meant to.
If I have one complaint, it’s the numerous gatefolds in each volume. The paper is thin and the binding is floppy, and together, I find viewing the gatefolds a difficult and nerve-wracking affair. Beyond that, I’m not the biggest fan of the whole silkscreened canvas cover business. I think it works for the content, I just don’t like the feel of it in the hands.
Given that each volume is limited to 350 copies, I’m sorta shocked that all five remain available (at time of writing). I have #185 of Shinobu, #105 of Hiroko, #130 of Naomi, #164 of Yukari, and #102 of Momoe. Given I bought the last of these some 17 months ago, that doesn’t mean much; the fact that any remain should light a fire under you, if you have the funds and the interest. The “Woman of the Night” series may be a bit hopelessly patriarchal and most definitely stuck in the Twentieth Century, but it’s the most comprehensive expression of Moriyama’s work that I know of, and it may indeed actually be worth your time.
Raised by Wolves is probably the Jim Goldberg book/project, the one by which all others are judged and by which all others fall. I don’t really know… I’d like to see some of his other work, maybe catch an exhibition somewhere, but everything is out of print and exhibitions never seems to come to North Texas (or not that I notice anyway). Anyway. Raised by Wolves (hereafter “RBW“) is the one you (or I, anyway) always hear about. It’s long out of print and, given its fame and scarcity, copies sell for wild prices. As a sort of partial remedy, Goldberg conceived of and produced the Raised by Wolves (Bootleg). Used copies of the Bootleg go for more than the original printing for some reason, and even though copies from the second printing (of which my copy is an example) remain available direct from Goldberg for a comparatively reasonable amount, at time of writing, anyway.
I honestly don’t know quite why I bought a copy of the Bootleg. After all, I own a really beat up, former library copy of the first edition and so why would I “need” one? I think I jumped on it because of the “…numerous surprises…” the publisher blurb claims were “inserted by the artist” and who knows. In any case, when I originally unboxed and flipped through the Bootleg, I was rather underwhelmed.
The full publisher’s blurb reads as follows:
Often considered Goldberg’s seminal project, Raised by Wolves combines ten years of original photographs, text, and other illustrative elements (home movie stills, snapshots, drawings, diary entries, and images of discarded belongings) to document the lives of runaway teenagers in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The book quickly became a classic in the photobook canon and, thus, the original is essentially unavailable.
In the spirit of Tweeky Dave, Goldberg is releasing a xerox style bootleg version of the book with numerous surprises inserted by the artist. At 9×12 inches, the same size as the original, the re-issue features 320 color and black and white pages, perfect bound, with a color softcover.
If you don’t already own a copy of RbW, and if you really want to see the work in full, the blurb won’t matter and you’ll probably buy the Bootleg without a second thought, if you have the hundred bucks (plus shipping) on hand. If you’re on the fence, though, read the blurb more carefully than I did before pulling the trigger.
I saw “Xerox…bootleg” and “numerous surprises” and jumped. When I received the book, I found that surprises numbered exactly 2: one 4×6 print made from an image of Tweaky Dave on a television and one 4×6 print of Beth (aka Echo), clean and playing Nintendo at her Mom’s house. “2” is not “numerous,” but whatever. I also found that “Xerox style” does not mean “xeroxed,” and that the (probably pristine digital) scans have been treated by some sort of grain or reticulation filter that really looks sorta hasty and poorly done. The eggshell paper exacerbates this and really calls out the fakery. If the paper had been more matte, like ordinary printer paper, or, better, ordinary copier paper, it might read more like a photocopy and sorta work better in general, and who knows.
Now. If I’d never seen (and didn’t own) a copy of the first edition, I probably wouldn’t mind the Bootleg. The (faked) photocopy look might not be so distracting, and the addition of a couple of prints, scotch-taped in at appropriate points, would be more exciting. And given that a couple of years have passed between the unboxing and flip-through and this review, I find that I don’t feel as negative now as I remember feeling back when I first saw it, and as I felt every time I saw the book, lying with its original printing cousin on the floor next to my flip-through station for the past 18 or 19 months.
Insofar as my office/library/studio/playroom is in deep need of a general cleanup (and thorough remodel), I figured it was time to get these books back onto the shelf, and the only way to do that is to review the Bootleg, so here we are.
Overall, I guess it’s good that RbW is available in some way, and while I don’t wholly dislike the book, really, the faked xeroxing gets very distracting very quickly, and wholly detracts from the appreciation and study of the book. The reticulation filter that’s been slapped onto everything simply doesn’t work. (Your mileage may, of course, vary, and my opinions are my own.) That said, I agree with Goldberg that Tweaky Dave would probably approve of it, more or less. If the Bootleg is supposed to look like a bootlegged zine version of the original, it fails on a basic technological level. But if it’s supposed to look like a cheap fake, sorta hurriedly produced to make a quick buck and score some tweak, then, well, maybe it sorta works, though the addition of the
numerous minimal surprises nearly pushes it into artist’s book, limited-edition territory.
On that point, I wonder if other copies include other prints, more prints, hand drawings or something. Maybe there are a handful of variations? Maybe each one is unique? Maybe the first printing of the Bootleg had a different set (or actually had “numerous”) prints/surprises? If you have a copy of the Bootleg (or if Goldberg reads this as he did my review of the original) maybe leave a comment and let me and other readers know.
Given that the Bootleg edition is the only way (at present) to get a fresh copy of RbW, I wholeheartedly recommend it, though if you’re patient (like I was a few years ago) and regularly search bookfinder, you might find a first edition, original copy for less than the Bootleg, and even a beat-up x-library copy will look clearer and read more legibly than will the Bootleg.
Japanese Beauty is Hiromix’s 1997 collection of work with a group of young Japanese models of the time. If you’re lucky enough to find a copy with the belly band, don’t get excited by the “21” on it… this is not an advisory, age limit sort of thing. Nope. Hiromix photographed 21 models for the project. Apologies if you got your hopes up…
The 21 models include Miwako Ichikawa, Mikako Ichikawa, Koyuki, Ayumi Tanabe, ARATA, Megumi Furuya, Nobuko Tanaka, Akari Shimizu, Manabu, Nanae Takahashi, FHIFAN, Shiho Ochiai, Yayoi, Yu Fujimoto, Hidetoshi Homma, Yoko Sekikawa, Himemi Tokuda, Kana, Anji, KIRI, and Takao Tsuno. Some or all of these were maybe at one point regularly featured in fashion and Teen Beat sorts of advertisements and magazines.
At first, I thought the book featured Hiromix’s work from these magazines, like maybe these were images she made for Japanese Tiger Beat or Big! or whatever. But after aiming the Google Translate app at some of the text—the whole book is in Japanese—I realized Japanese Beauty was something else, and, really, it’s something rather interesting and masterful, I think.
Take yourself back, if you can, to the mid 1990s, and imagine opening up a copy of Teen Vogue. I turned 12 in 1990 (and, therefore, 22 in 2000) and I can only imagine, since I never bought or looked at a copy of any of the numerous teen magazines of the day. In the early part of the decade, I was on Mad; in the latter part of the decade I moved on to a more adult sort of magazine, and may Allah forgive my youthful ignorance. Anyway. If the teen magazines were anything like the adult magazines I “read,” I imagine there were profiles of models and actors and musicians and all, with images and some brief comments around the subject’s favorite color, hobbies, etc. And that’s what Hiromix gives us in Japanese Beauty, 21 times, without the advertisements and articles, and also (sadly?) without the centerfolds.
Each group of pictures opens with the model’s (or, in a few cases, models’) name and ends with a set of statements: memories of photoshoots, favorite perfumes and foods, and etc. (if the Google Translate app can be believed). Each model appears in one setting: outdoors or indoors; mostly clothed and always sufficiently covered; in head-and-shoulders and/or full body poses; in single images per page or two-page spreads. The photos are all well done, with Hiromix’s usual mastery of color and offhanded framing. One image in particular has perhaps the best use of lens flare I’ve ever seen. It shows an incredible knowledge of the camera (or some incredible luck).
The image on the left is just amazing, and the spread there works so well. Hiromix certainly knew her tools, and I wonder if she continued using the Big Mini throughout. The flare and distortions look like an inexpensive, wide-angle, plastic-lensed camera anyway.
Now. Given that Hiromix worked with professional models for essentially the first time (for a photobook, anyway,) the images are quite different than those in Girls Blue and the Steidl book; the diaristic aspect is entirely absent: there are no photographs of food or city streets at night or interiors. This fact alone puts Japanese Beauty low on my ranking of Hiromix books. That said, it’s still excellent and I’m thrilled and privileged to have it in my collection.
Japanese Beauty is only available used and prices are reasonable. It’s not Hiromix’s best work, imo: for that, see the Steidl book (or Girls Blue), but it’s really pretty good and worth checking out.