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Visions of Japan
ABC De Signe
1991
 
This publication is one part of a three-volume set that commemorated an exhibition of the same name at London’s Victoria & Albert museum in 1991. It comprises a rich, abstract, full-colour scrapbook of ephemeral photographic content by photographer Kijuro Yayagi, juxtaposing snapshots, textures, double-exposures and cut-outs, that is bound as a sprawling concertina and finished with a printed board cover at each end. The volume has no pagination or text, apart from an accompanying one-colour sheet of image captions plus a modest label inside each cover imparting the enigmatic aphorism, ‘familiarity = unfamiliarity’. The photographs capture that infamous Japanese penchant for both the cultured and the kitsch, and perhaps this is what is referred to by this label.

The two sides of the piece’s linear composition exude the almost filmic movement in the images themselves, artfully transporting the reader through two interweaving journeys encompassing the sights, sounds and smells of contemporary Japan, flickering as if seen from the window of a speeding Shinkansen (or bullet train). Its clever use of material celebrates the country’s illustrious history in paper making and engineering, plus it can be read from either direction, which might allude to the right-to-left tradition of Japanese writing and publishing. Whichever way you look at it, the book’s effortless design and form perfectly befits its content. Printed site-seeing for the armchair tourist at its finest.
 
7 December 2018
Visions of Japan, spine detail.
Visions of Japan, spread detail.
Visions of Japan, front and rear cover.
Visions of Japan, spread detail.
Visions of Japan, spread detail.
Visions of Japan, spread detail.
Visions of Japan, spread detail.
Visions of Japan, caption sheet detail.
Visions of Japan, spread detail.
Visions of Japan, spread detail.
Visions of Japan, front or rear cover.
Visions of Japan, spread detail.
Visions of Japan, cover detail.
Visions of Japan, spread detail.
Visions of Japan, spread detail.
Visions of Japan, caption sheet detail.
Visions of Japan, spread detail.
Visions of Japan, spread detail.
Visions of Japan, cover detail.
Visions of Japan, spread detail.
A weekly appraisal of a notable object from Carter Studio