NIPPON GEKIJO SHASHINCHO (Japan Theater Photo Album)
Moriyama Daido (born 1938, Ikeda City) began photographing Japan in the 1960s, capturing the intense social and creative ferment throughout the country in the decades following World War II. After moving to Tokyo in 1961, Moriyama immediately became part of the center of Japanese photographic activity, actively publishing his work and joining the short-lived yet influential Provoke group (1968–70). Roaming the cities and highways of Japan, he captured gritty images in his signature high-contrast, grainy, and blurry style. Moriyama’s technique of shooting in movement and from dynamic perspectives resulted in powerful portraits of a modernizing country.
His tendency to photograph from a lower perspective, as if the camera were a part of his body, is evident in the oblique view of an endless expanse of detritus in Yumenoshima, a former landfill in Tokyo Bay. Office workers become featureless components in the artificial glare of fluorescent lights and synthetic surfaces in NIPPON GEKIJO SHASHINCHO (Japan Theater Photo Album). In KARIUDO (Hunter), sharp gashes of light partially obscure the facial features of two officers sitting casually in a coffee shop while a waitress stares blankly across the counter. Similarly, the limp profile of a woman and the jagged cityscape that rakes through the skies of Tokyo convey the feeling of anonymity, disorientation, and the pressures of a growing metropolis.
Radical experimentation with photography led Moriyama to a personal and creative crisis by the end of the 1970s. Cherry Blossoms exemplifies his return to the fundamental aspects of the medium. Through light and composition, he heightens the overwhelming materiality and ephemerality of an iconic element of the traditional Japanese landscape.