Daido Moriyama - Journey for Something
I have had this one listed as a place holder for sometime now. Its daunting to even think about writing about the book for a few reasons. 1. Its a massive collection of some of the most famous works from Daido Moriyama. Such a prolific worker, so such a large volume.
2. I idolise his work in many ways, so I am a little hesitant to write about what I think is the most complete collection of his finest photos.
3. I take photos of some of the images in the books that I review, and honestly... as I cant show you every page I feel like this review will be a little unfinished. The book should be enjoyed in its entirety.
To combat the fact that I cant show you all the images here I will provide you with this link. It will allow you to browse the book in its entirety in PDF format. Its does it little justice as far as I am concerned, but with a book of this expense its a good way of making a final decision to bite the bullet and make the purchase.
I wont go into much detail about who Daido is, or why he has such an influence on me. I have done so already when I reviewed one of his other lessor known books Mirage. What I will say is some reasons why I reviewed Mirage first are the exact same reasons why I have been holding off on this one. If you know just a little about Moriyama, then you will notice some of the images that are in Journey for Something. The book is a curated collection of what many would argue are his best. His most iconic. His defining images.
Some argue that Diado is an amazing artists, but a terrible editor. I both agree and disagree with this line of thought. Firstly, I do think there are some images he shows that are not to my liking. Some push the boundaries just a little too far. However, Moriyama would likely argue this is a matter of my perception, and although this is what I think, the image to him is something worth showing in a book.
There is no other artist that has been as prolific in releasing books to my knowledge. Unlike others though, Daido says that his work is about single images. Their layout within the pages of a book do not follow a formal sequence or flow. I dont know if Journey for Something is a great example of this. It may be due to it being curated by a third party. I am certain Daido would have had input to the final product, but the sequence and flow of the images in this book feel more structured when compared to his other editions.
The wonderful thing about a lot of Moriyamas books and their layout is the inconsistent and often random feeling of image sizes. Journey for Something is a little more consistent in some respects, with images either taking up a single or a double page. In many of his other editions there is really little to no consistency to image size. This changing randomness to something that many others would leave constant keeps the viewer interested and guessing as pages are turned.
The other interesting thing with his sequencing, that is definitely a construct of Journey for Something, is the placement of single images over double pages. Sometimes these go as far as placing what would be considered the main subject of the image with the page cutting through. One thing that strikes me as a reader with Journey for Something is the importance provided to certain images in this manner. The images that come up through the book and have been awarded a double page really stand out.
The finish on this book also removed from some of the other publications Daido has released over the years. There is something to be said for some of the lesser quality prints his made. They tend to address his roots a little. The roots of self publication even, where he set up a small shop front in Shinjuku, brought in a photocopier and allowed people to come and sequence their own copies of his images. He then printed the images on the copier and each person left with a unique copy of his work.
So much these days in the world of photography is about pixel peeping and lens sharpness. This is what I am drawn to Moriyama for. Its the anti sharpness. Its the lack of a requirement in some instances to even have detail in the images. The images are raw and naked. They exist in their own right, and unlike so many other photographers of the time, his work is not there in an attempt to tell the story of the subject. The work has to be there to tell a story though. The really interesting thing for me is that if its not the story of the subject, then all thats left is the story of Daido himself.
That ability to place yourself in the image and still keep things interesting is something special. I am of the opinion that any good photo needs to have at least some of the artist in it. Without outpouring something about yourself in art there really is a deadness. A lack of emotion. This is true for all artistic genres, not only photography.
The difference with Daido is as stated already, there isnt even an attempt in some of his work to make it about anything. They are random. He is random. The images that he makes are a stream of his own making. A stream of his own consciousness. There are other artists that do this from a fine art perspective. There are not many that do it from a street perspective. The thing here is that Moriyama's take on street is different. His work is almost a genre of its own really.
Its perhaps an apt name for the monograph of some os his greatest work. In all his work he takes us on a journey. The hard thing to determine is to where and why. It might not even really matter for that fact. It might be the jouney is more about yourself. It might be that through the work of Daido Moriyama the reader is able to chose their own adventure. If you only want to buy one Moriyama book, this is the one to get. If youre like me, you'll tell yourself that you'll just buy one... It doesnt work. He is addictive and should be consumed in large doses!