Thursday, January 1, 2009

Tetsu by Yukikazu Ito

Tetsu is a small book of photographs by Yukikazu Ito that presents a single subject, electrical towers in Japan. Shot in black and white and printed in high contrast, Ito searches out the variety of structure in these somewhat dated symbols of technology and power.

Unlike many projects that take a single subject as their starting point, these are not strict Becher-like typologies but instead there is something more majestic rather than clinical about how Ito describes them. In his brief afterword he writes about them with the curiosity of a small child, "One day after shooting about 100 towers, one of them seemed to be a man who was made of iron. So, I named him "Tetsu" who was a man of few words..."

Ito describes his "Tetsu" photographically from many vantage points. From a distance some barely register within the landscape while others loom over buildings like a destructive force, their wires ensnaring everything within their reach.

Although the images are interesting enough on their own, it is their presentation in this book which I find really enticing. Printed on a "cheap" newsprint type stock, the images with their tack sharp grain and matte appearance look beautiful. The paper reduces the images to the lowest common denominator of tone and almost completely renders the darkest areas with no shadow detail. The result is a sooty or ashen feel to the images like coal dust is heavy in the air. Staple bound at three points on the left edge, the whole presentation has a simple home-made feel. The title is printed on the exposed page edges on the spine.

I know little about this book in terms of how many were produced. The copy here is stamped with an 078 on the back cover. The ISBN is: 4-9902835-1-1 and it was designed by Atushi Ogi. Tetsu was published by WALL in 2006 and is now sadly out of print. Have an extra copy? Lets trade.

Special thank you to Charlie Rhyne for the loan.