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Beta Exercise: The Theory and Practice of Osamu Kanemura

Osamu Kanemura, eds. Marco Mazzi and Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei

Published onNov 08, 2021
Beta Exercise: The Theory and Practice of Osamu Kanemura
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Beta Exercise: The Theory and Practice of Osamu Kanemura

Osamu Kanemura
Edited by Marco Mazzi and Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
Translated by Nicholas Marshall and Michiyo Miyake

  • ISBN: 978-1-947447-7-76

  • Paperback, 5×8 in., B/W, 230pp.

  • Publication date: January 23, 2019

  • Price: $22

  • BISAC: PHO005000, ART019030

  • Thema: AJCD, ABA

  • Categories: Photography, Art Theory

Beta Exercise: The Theory and Practice of Osamu Kanemura is the first bilingual (Japanese–English) book to provide an overview of the theoretical work of Japanese photographer and video artist Osamu Kanemura, a unique talent and voice in the world of avant-garde contemporary photography.

The opening essay “Life Is a Gift” meditates on the transformation of human life into an exchangeable commodity and the abstraction that entails. “Essay 01” develops Kanemura’s idea of photographic “technique” in an era when such techniques have become accessible to all, radically undermining the importance of human subjectivity in the process of capturing the photographic image: “We can say that modern technology constitutes photographic technique.” Instead, Kanemura argues, extra-technical elements such as concept and vision will have to compensate for the expression of individuality that technique is no longer able to convey.

Taking cues from Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Karlheinz Stockhausen, the essay “Dead-Stick Landing” develops Kanemura’s theory of the moving image as mechanical system, solely governed by an “on-off switch,” while “Essay 02” develops these ideas into a consideration of cinematic time and the experience of boredom in cinema as the result of a truthful “loyalty” expressed to machines, and not to stories.

The essays are accompanied by an extensive two-part interview with Italian photographer Marco Mazzi, touching upon topics ranging from the technical aspects of Kanemura’s equipment, the concept of non-editing, and the destruction of the frame to the similarity between Mao’s dialectics and the camera, the presence of the human figure as trace, and the politics of photographing Tokyo.

Osamu Kanemura was born in 1964 in Tokyo, Japan. In the 1980s, after performing as a punk-rock musician, he entered the film school “Image Forum” in Tokyo where he made several 16 mm experimental films. In 1990 he entered the Tokyo College of Photography, and before graduating in 1993, he was invited to the Photography Biennale in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Since then, he has held numerous solo exhibitions and has participated in various group shows in Japan and abroad. His photographs are found in public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, and the Yokohama Museum of Art. Besides his well-recognized black-and-white photographs of cityscapes, Kanemura also continues to work on videos and moving images.

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