Earth, Milky Way: punctum books, 2019. 230 pages, illus. ISBN-13: 978-1-947447-7-76. DOI: 10.21983/P3.0241.1.00. OPEN-ACCESS e-book and $22.00 in print: paperbound/5 X 8 in.

Beta Exercise: The Theory and Practice of Osamu Kanemura

Some photographers take pictures of cities that show no humans and the fact that none appear is somehow meaningful. But I have no interest in this kind of expression—the meaning that a desolate city suggests. I have no interest in photos that imply something. The possibility of the photograph that doesn’t imply anything, cut off from any implication or meaning. The photograph that has nothing hidden behind and shows nothing but the things captured. The photograph that does not seek meaning; rather, is disconnected from meaning—I consider the photograph to be something cut off from the world. Reality and the photograph are parallel. These parallel lines do not meet.


Beta Exercise: The Theory and Practice of Osamu Kanemura is the first bilingual (Japanese-English) book to provide an overview of the theoretical work of Japanese photographer and video artist Osamu Kanemura, a unique talent and voice in the world of avant-garde contemporary photography.

The opening essay “Life Is a Gift” meditates on the transformation of human life into an exchangeable commodity and the abstraction that entails. “Essay 01” develops Kanemura’s idea of photographic “technique” in an era when such techniques have become accessible to all, radically undermining the importance of human subjectivity in the process of capturing the photographic image: “We can say that modern technology constitutes photographic technique.” Instead, Kanemura argues, extra-technical elements such as concept and vision will have to compensate for the expression of individuality that technique is no longer able to convey.

Taking cues from Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Karlheinz Stockhausen, the essay “Dead-Stick Landing” develops Kanemura’s theory of the moving image as mechanical system, solely governed by an “on-off switch,” while “Essay 02” develops these ideas into a consideration of cinematic time and the experience of boredom in cinema as the result of a truthful “loyalty” expressed to machines, and not to stories.

The essays are accompanied by an extensive two-part interview with Italian photographer Marco Mazzi, touching upon topics ranging from the technical aspects of Kanemura’s equipment, the concept of non-editing, and the destruction of the frame to the similarity between Mao’s dialectics and the camera, the presence of the human figure as trace, and the politics of photographing Tokyo.

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