Text: Alec Coiro
All Images Courtesy of Taka Ishii Gallery
The last time we covered Nobuyoshi Araki was Kei Benger’s review of “Love on the Left Eye,” an examination of a series of images that both explore Araki’s experience with a degenerative eye disease and attempt to recreate the disease’s effects for the viewer.
Currently, we’re looking at a book created out of images from two movies Araki made in 2005: Blue Period and Last Summer. The movies are both based on the Arakinema concept Araki pioneered, the origin of which is described in the books introduction, “In 1986 at Cinema Rise in Tokyo, Nobuyoshi Araki staged a live performance entitled Tokyo Monogatar (Tokyo Story) involving projections of his photographs set to music. Using two slide projectors, Araki and his assistants, Nobuhiko Ansai and Shiro Tamiya, created a sequence of overlapping images which faded into each other, accompanied by a musical soundtrack. Tokyo Monogatari became the ﬁrst in a series of live performances entitled Arakinema which he staged until the mid-2000s at art institutions around the world.”
Blue Period and Last Summer are two of 30 movies that were made using this technique between 1991 and 2010. The both share Araki’s signature focus on nudes in a style that sits on a shifting spectrum between erotic and pornographic. Blue Period is distinguished by the way he processed the images to give them a faded blue tint. Last Summer is given its own treatment in the form of kaleidoscopic staining. In both cases the alteration of the images is suggestive of the way reality warps as our minds transform it into memory. Although in a quote for the book, Araki claims that Last Summer’s focus is not on memory but rather on the future. “The two ﬁlms should be seen as a set since Blue Period is about the past and Last Summer is about the future. By removing color using a chemical solution Blue Period is about an act of subtraction, whereas adding color to the images in Last Summer is about an act of addition.”
Images are from the original slide so that color looks really vivid and clear. - Miwa Susuda
The book itself was summoned into existence through the efforts of Session Press, Dashwood Books, color specialist Sebastiaan Hanekroot and designer Geoff Han, who created this artifact with the intent of being as faithful as possible to the original Arakinema performances upon which the movies were based. For this article we were able to talk with Miwa Susuda, who represented the the Dashwood press corner of the effort. Susuda was careful to make it clear that the images in the book are not merely scans from DVD screens. Rather, “Images are from the original slide so that color looks really vivid and clear. It was challenging to get the original scans since they (Araki’s assistant) didn’t clearly sort them out in their file room, and it took us at least 3-4 months to just find out which images are really available and what format Araki prefers to use for his book. Fortunately, the work paid off, and Susuda is proud to say that “Araki saw our publication last month and hre really loves it.” Hopefully you will is a well.
The images collected here are our favorites among favorites. The book was published on December 1st, so the full experience is available to you now. In addition, we hear from the Museum of Sex that they will screen both Blue Period and Last Summer, and there will be special section created in Museum of Sex retail store for Araki.