I will just state very quickly that some of the images in this post are NSFW. Sakiko's book was a surprise for me when it arrived in the mail a while back. I found the book on Japan Exposures and thanks to the really great sample images of the books on their site was able to get a good grasp of the fact that I would like the book. I wasnt mistaken...
Thanks also to their great samples, I also have a very long wishlist waiting for some savings as well.
I was also lucky enough to snag a signed copy. There is something a little special about knowing that at some point in time my copy of the book was held by the artist themselves. I dont buy these things as investments, so any increase in value is neither here nor there for me. Its the sentiment thats involved with the artists leaving their mark on the pages, not only with the wonderful photos, but also with a sign that is as unique to them as the images themselves.
I dont know what it was exactly that drew me to the book. Its takes a lot for a book to stand out amongst the many great titles that the guys have on their site. There was something very simple about the subject matter. Something a little disjointed in some way as well. Something that really made me want to see how someone had taken such a diverse subject matter to combine them into a cohesive and fluent volume.
The quality of the book is super high as well. The textured hardcover and the image on the front are really well presented. There are apparently three different copies of the book available. There is a NUDE version, A ROOM version and the FLOWER version that I have. At the moment the FLOWER cover is the one that Japan exposures have stock of.
The print quality of the pages suits the image style. The print is matte and the paper quality is really high. Textured paper and great print quality, how can you go wrong right?
A majority of the images are in black and white. The fact that even before opening the pages of the book we are aware that there are three subjects being explored within should tell us something about the sequencing of the book. On first viewing it seems a little haphazard. The attempt by Sakiko to bring the three subjects together in the one book is a ambitious one. My initial thought was that there would be a struggle for one or more of the title themes to rise to the top.
It does feel to a certain degree that the nudes in the book are the images that have won that battle. However, I will be careful in making that statement as the nudes are always going to be the images that draw the eye more than the others. The book is of course much more than a simple investigation of Nude, A Room, and some Flowers.
Sakiko takes on a journey of sorts within the pages. Some of the images sort of have a snapshot kind of feel to them. Its very interesting for the eye to drift through the pages as not only be treated to a diverse range of subject matter, but also a range of moods as well.
A majority of the images have a kind of serious feel to them. The contrasty tones and sometimes off focus seems to add to this in many ways. Drawing the mind into making some assumptions of what might be behind the deep blacks and sometimes soft focused subject matter.
Often the book takes a slight divergence from the subjects stated in the title. These moment although lovely, do feel like they are a little removed from some of the other subject matter. I get the impression from the book that Sakiko wasnt as concerned as some with the sequence of the images. The book does make interesting reading due to that.
Its almost as if at times you are jolted back to life by certain images. Their placement being just a little out of place. The artist does this in a number of ways. The first is through the unexpected subject matter. The second is through subtle use of colour in an otherwise monotone book.
These splashes of colour between the black and white images just tickle the sense and wake the eyes a little. Its an interesting technique and one that I dont think is used often. I am a little undecided if I like it or not, but this might just be as I dont know if its something I have found in another book that I own. I feel that it works here with NUDE/A ROOM/FLOWERS due to the variety of subject matter. The variety of tones from black and white to colour seem to work well within these pages.
What was evident in the viewing is that the nudes seems to follow the trend of black and white. There are colour images in the book that portray the other subjects of A Room and also Flowers, but the nudes are almost exclusively black and white. The few that dont follow this trend seem to be more about the Room rather than the Nude. Less of a classic nude as such, and more situational.
I do like this decision. There is something about skin tones in black and white that does something for an image. I dont quite know how to say this, but it seems to remove any doubt in the mind that the image is in fact artistic. The black and white making a final statement that there is not an ounce of smut or dirtyness to the image. It makes the image all about the subject.
I personally find the use of male subjects in some of the nudes intriguing in some ways. It goes a little against the grain of artistic nudes, at least from the images that I have a memory of viewing. I dont think that this is due to the fact that I would naturally seek out images of female forms, but I just think that from a Western perspective images in both a photographic and painted medium are more prevalent.
Whatever the reason for this, I find the slight divergence from the norm, at least for my norms anyway, quite pleasing. The nudes in the book have a sensual type of respect for the subject. As I stated earlier, they are the clear stand outs for me in the book, with the rest of the images seeming to act to transition the viewer from one section of the book to the other.
The images that are taken outside of the subject matter do seems to have a strong story to tell. Their mood is very somber. The use of light and shade is very heavy in a lot of them. In many cases the actual subject in some of these images is hard to decipher. They almost have that journeyman type feeling that you get with quite a few Japanese photographers. At least a few come to mind.
That ability to take the viewer on the path that was traveled to make the photographs. Even though the mood of the images is a little dark, they are calming, and their presence in the book doesnt feel out of place. Its almost as if you are being walked by Sakiko from one room to the next through the pages of the book.
I am exceptionally happy with the book, and as I have stated publicly in the past, I have a feeling that a bit of an obsession with Japanese photographers is starting to brew.
You are still able to grab copies of the book from Japan Exposures. It really is an interesting read. I dont know if it will be for everyone, but its uniqueness is something that keeps me coming back for subsequent viewing and as a source of constant inspiration..