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Spider's Strategy.
Photographs by Osamu Kanemura.
Osiris Co., Tokyo, 2001. 102 pp., 80 duotone illustrations, 11¼x9".
I know an American photographer who works in Japan, shooting interiors. I asked if she had tried any exteriors or cityscapes, and she almost visibly shuddered. When I saw the results of a few attempts at them, I saw her frustration: the control that she exerted on small spaces, and the relative composure of the interiors she shot, was practically lost in urban Japan. There is no such thing as unobstructed field of view, and power lines hang in dense clumps that shoot out on new trajectories at every street and alley. It’s a compositional nightmare. But it’s the substance of Kanemura’s work, reportedly taken while on newspaper routes across Tokyo: maximalist compositions whose vanishing points carom off apartment blocks, street poles, hoardings and bicycle handles. But Kanemura counterintuitively works with the density, often foregrounding a significant obstacle, anchoring the picture with an unlovely but inescapable feature. The book is printed quite dark, which accentuates the graphic claustrophobia; the only breaks in the book come in the form of two separate sheets printed with a metallic ink on one side. These breaks don’t seem to relate to anything, but they provide a welcome break for those who find the visual experience maddening. Kanemura may be attempting some kind of integration with this project; the unconscious response in the city, and perhaps with such work, is to keep moving and walk briskly in order to let the chaos blur into a fog of geometry. The “strategy” here is to get tangled up in it all. ALAN RAPP Read Publisher's Description.

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