Digitisation During Lockdown ロックダウン時のデジタル化

Staying home as required during the pandemic has given me the time to sort and digitize, one by one, the 300+ photographs I found five years ago in a flea market. Purchasing or borrowing a flatbed scanner would have been an option, but instead I peered over each photograph in a bent over position with my DSLR, pressing the shutter to capture an immovable past, its decisive moment come and gone many decades ago, and its artefact, yellowed with time. Or is it? Immovable, that is.

During the tedious task of post processing digitised images: straightening, cropping, and taking out colour casts, I thought about the daily COVID-19 related news bulletins – not that there were any non COVID-19 related news on the bulletin at the time – the closing of borders, the emergency measures dictating what to do or not do by decree of government, the fear, racism and blame. I wondered how I would make sense of the way in which I had lived before the pandemic. Like many people, I travelled, and worked across borders. The subject matter of my work had been about exactly that – people who have crossed borders, specifically about the Japanese experience in Australia. When national borders and nation states necessarily protected us and our loved ones, I was left to wonder what exactly my optimistic perspective as a global citizen meant.

These photographs have somehow travelled to Australia. I travelled to Australia from Tokyo nearly 40 years ago. I made Sydney my home. Last year I made plans to spend one year in Japan to be near my family, to take photographs of the country of my birth. These plans are now in limbo. There is a sense of melancholy in my current undertaking.

Perhaps melancholy is what old photographs, by definition, instil in us. I look for the punctum in every photograph, of which I think I find many. I think, but there is no need. Time past is the punctum, and (should I even mention it) that they were once discarded? Weren’t they? Or perhaps they are simply lost – for now. All of this makes the subject matter of this project, bruising.

But unlike Roland Barthes’ mother, there are people in the photographs who are still alive today. Photographed as children in the early 1960s, many would be my age or slightly older. And there is plenty of optimism in these photographs. Some of the photographs of the children remind me of Nobuyoshi Araki’s early series Sachin, whose eyes reflect Japan’s post war hope for the new; the photographs of the young women workers at Kyoto Daiei Film Studio are full of promise, being part of the creative force that gave birth to Japanese post war films, like Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon.

In this time of lockdown, I am at home in Sydney, quietly digitising and being encouraged by the optimism present in these photographs.

Camera Lucida (La chambre claire) by Roland Barthes, first published in 1980 ロラン・バルト『明るい部屋─写真についての覚書』英文出版1980







Sachin by Nobuyoshi Araki, first published in 1964 『さっちん』荒木経惟1964

Mayu Kanamori April 2020

*芸術学用語:プンクトゥム   https://bit.ly/3b4L5iz



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