Copyright Noriko Takazawa 2009 courtesy Farewell Books
Noriko Takazawa’s recent book (booklet), Sensation, published by Farwell, provides only the one word title to create a context to understand this body of photographs. Thinking that I knew the meaning of the word and what it might signify, I did a quick sanity check; Sensation, meaning “a physical feeling or perception from something that comes into contact with the body; something sensed.” Sensation could also mean “a widespread reaction of interest or excitement”. Okay, so that provides a couple of plausible connotations for this body of photographs.
The photographs as a collection are an enigma, a riddle constructed of clearly delineated photographs mixed with those that are very ambiguous, bordering on abstract. The photographs that have a recognizable subject matter are a combination of interior, exterior and reflective landscapes, all of them tightly framed. There images of a hanging curtains, the side of building beyond a fence, and a field of tall grass with a slightly obscured rectangular shape.
The photographs that contain reflections also have hints of someone centrally located within the frame, possibly the photographer. The most clearly delineated photograph is also located in the very center of this book, a somewhat pivotal location. It is a complex photograph with multiple reflections and layers, creating the impression of looking in while looking back. The complexity of this photograph is increased by the presence of the photographer located in various planes and locations with the frame, some discernible, some abstract. The person’s reflection in the center of the image is defined enough to establish that this is the photographer, but due to the quality of the printing/image, the features are not salient and clear.
It takes a moment to discern that the center-most reflection of the photographer is really a double reflection, with a ghostly outline around the more sharply defined figure. There is a suggestion of three-dimensional space and perhaps a little more elusive, an element of time. To me it represents the multilayer-ed aspects of the complexity of life, such as who we were, are now and might be. The mostly delineated photograph of the book also has some of the most abstract qualities.
The other more ambiguous images with the book have subject matter that is indeterminable, vague and mysterious. These images have mostly broad areas of middle gray tonality with intermittent areas of either darker or lighter values. There are hints of texture and a few details that fall in and out of focus. There appear to be cast shadows throughout the pages, but what is casting these shadows is unknown and contributes to the mystery.
I will acknowledge that these images are curious and seem vaguely related to the book’s title. I think of the senses as something that creates clearly perceived feelings, making enough of a connection as to be consciously recognized. I think these photographs create a very subtle connection with my senses, which are barely recognizable. Takazawa’s photographs are gray, flat, muted, indistinct, soft and not very substantial, more of a whisper of a touch, which I will admit is still a sensory reaction.
The textures in this series of photographs may bring back the memories of a past sensation. Made somewhat visible is the sense of hardness and rigidity of a wall, the softness of a curtain, the faint smell of summer grass, the uneven and bumpy pebbles and rocks on the ground. Looking at what appears to be a pillow with the latent impression of a head might bring back a feeling of being enveloped in the warmth of the covers while listening to the sounds of the night.
This book is be best thought of as a booklet or a zine, as the 24 pages are saddle stitched (stapled) with a soft cover (same cover stock as the interior pages), the pages are a medium weight, thus a bit fragile and susceptible to ear marking and fraying damage. The photographs are printed in Black and White by offset printing. The matte paper does not provide really deep blacks to the photographs, giving the images a low contrast and middle gray appearance.
The only information about the book is the book’s title; it does not have an introduction, artistic statement, captions or accompanying essay, very minimalist. The photographs are either full bleed across the spread or a three quarter bleed positioned on the top half of the page, with the adjacent photographs butting into to each other. In the spirit of this book, I can also say that the sensation of holding this flimsy booklet is one of lightness, and it does not feel very substantial.
Note: I am sorry, but after re-reading my initial published review, I found that it was insufficient, incomplete and generally lame. So I yanked it and now have published this second version, above. I hope that you will find it more appropriate.
Thank you for your patience, Douglas Stockdale