It is becoming a bit of a tradition that my adult kids buy me a photobook for Christmas and my birthday (also in December). This year’s loveliness is Koike’s No More, No Less, and Albarran Cabrera’s Remembering the Future. There seems to be some problem with distribution for the latter, so I have not received it as yet, but the former arrived yesterday.
Those who have followed my work may recall that I have waxed lyrical about Kensuke Koike’s work in my last assignment. He comes from Japan, and his concept is to alter old images without either removing anything or adding anything during the process. This means he essentially restructures the images and the book consists of 30 altered and rephotographed portraits. For it, Koike paired up with Thomas Sauvin (who has also appeared in this blog before) and took the unusual step of asking three different publishers to print his book without reference to the others, so there are three completely different versions of it. I have got the one published by Jiazazhi Press, which is based in China, and incidentally to this, has a catalogue of very interesting looking photobooks to explore aside from this one.
The book is an object of beauty in its own right. The orange slipcover contains a complex origami of printed semi-translucent paper pockets, each of which holds a single rephotographed image. The pattern Koike uses for each is printed on the front of the pocket, and the images themselves are double sided, with the back of each showing the cutting lines that were used, and sometimes parts of the image, reversed. The front patterns are reproduced in red and blue lines in the same tradition that is used for paper sculptures, but so far I have not managed to work out the meaning of the different depths of colour that are used. It’s all hand bound together with red thread, and the result is effectively a series of individual pieces as one has to pull out the loose photo from each pocket to see it.
The original images were part of a collection by an unnamed professor at Shanghai University who was learning how to use portrait lights. Thus they are all ‘found images’ with the portraits themselves being a vehicle for the exploration of ‘freedom and constraint’ according to the cover.
It’s a lovely book and I would dearly like to know how the other two publishers interpreted the brief. I also want to get back to my cutting machine, but must finish the current assignment first.