As already described here and here, the emerging COVID-19 pandemic left my wife and me stranded in her hometown Yukuhashi from March to July 2020 — right after the birth of our son. During that time, I carried a camera wherever I went, resulting in the capture of a large number of scenes of the local landscape, stones, rivers, houses, people, economy, politics, COVID-19, popular mythology and religion … my perspective on Japan “from pebbles to boulders,” so to speak.
Back in Hamburg, work was begun to edit the photos into bookshape. Being a side-project to my research, it took until September of this year to see the publication of the finished book. While 38 cartridges of film were carefully exposed and developed by hand in Yukuhashi, only 96 of the resulting photos were selected and arranged for this book, the layout being handled by Shoko Tanaka.
The book is printed to order by Norderstedt’s finest “Books on Demand” printer-publisher. It can be ordered (in Europe) through any purveyor of books of your choice, i.e. your local brick and mortar bookstore (suggested!), Book on Demand’s own webstore or various online bookshops.
From Pebbles to Boulders : 96 Photos of Small-Town Japan
Veröffentlichung eines Fotozines und Ausstellung im nachladen, (Hamburg, Sternstraße 17) im Dezember 2020.
Wie geht es uns denn heute? Schaut mal wieder rein in den nachladen und findet es heraus, denn seit dieser Woche gibt es dort mein Fotozine (Design von Tim Reuscher, mit Text von meinem Bruder Frank) und eine Corona-feste Ausstellungsinstallation im Fenster. Beide zeigen Fotos die draußen in Hamburg zwischen 2018 und 2020 entstanden sind.
Einzelne Drucke können im nachladen erstanden werden, das Heft sowohl dort als auch im Onlinestore.
On June 30 we finally left Yukuhashi for Hamburg, arriving back in our usual dwelling on July 1. Little bleary, worse for wear and tear, but happy to be back. We had left Europe as two and came back as three to a place that had changed as well, arriving one and a half months later than we had originally planned.
Coincidentally, our flight with JAL was the first one by that airline between Japan and Europe since the Covid-19 outbreak. Things seem to slowly creep back to some measure of normal, and we too are trying to fit back into our usual lifes. But like the river you cannot step in twice, things are not quite the same anymore, making us accept new roles to fill from now on.
One role that I nevertheless intend to continue to play on this stage will of course be the humble photographer. In Yukuhashi, I exposed and developed 38 cartridges of Fujifilm Neopan Across 100 II, with the last two rolls of film developed on the morning of our flight back to Hamburg. Whenever I will find the time for it in the next few weeks I will work on editing a small spread of pictures showing what we saw in Yukuashi between March and June. Other projects — more on those later — are forthcoming as well.
On February 28, I arrived in Yukuhashi, the hometown of my wife, where she wanted to give birth to our first child. As intended, this happened not long after my arrival and since then both her and the baby are doing fine.
We planned to return to Hamburg in the middle of May, but now it looks like our return has been postponed indefinitely, due to the recent worldwide unpleasantness related to the Coronavirus. This leaves us stranded in Yukuhashi, a small (dare I say rural?) town on the southwestern shore of the Japanese Inland Sea, in the vicinity of the metropolitan area of Kitakyushu. Even though the baby naturally takes up most of our energy (which we gladly give to him), still plenty of opportunities to record the peculiarities of local life with my camera present themselves almost on a daily basis.
Since as usual my tool of choice is a 35mm film camera, it will take some time for anyone to see the photos taken here. They are forthcoming though.
Meanwhile in Hamburg: Various issues of my photo magazine “reflex” are now available through the online store of the Nachladen, as are many other publications by local artists from Hamburg. Please check it out.
Exhibition shown at the nachladen (Sternstraße 17), December 7th, 2019 to January 4th, 2020.
On display were 12 b&w risograph prints of Christmas trees after Christmas. At the exhibition’s opening around six o’clock, my brother Frank read from a text he wrote for the catalogue accompanying our exhibition.
Reflex 05 is here, with photos from (mostly) Hamburg, Strande and Kiel. And its not just here, now its also there:
I decided to make the new issues of reflex available to the general public in the “nachladen“, Hamburg’s hot spot for self-published magazines and art printing. Drop by if you are in the area and have a look, they have heaps of nice prints and magazines by local artists well worth a visit.
issues 01 to 04 are finally finished. Each issue contains 36 of my photos taken
during one quarter year, printed using electro photographical printing.
It’s been a long time coming: In March of 2018 I wrote that I would concentrate on printing my photos, instead of just publishing them on my homepage. Afterwards it seemed like no progress happened in this regard for well over one year. What can I say? The PhD thesis continues to occupy the largest part of my attention and from last summer onward, curating the exhibition “Negative/Scans” kept me busy as well. As a result, the stream of photos published on the homepage became a mere trickle, while no printed photos appeared.
I continued shooting though, as well as developing films and making proof sheets of the films. When some time was available, I experimented with different ways to print my photos.
The question of printing process
reason why the silver bullet – traditional enlargements, chemical development –
could not be used: Our apartment lacks the space necessary to set up a darkroom
able to handle print development. Turning the bathroom into a darkroom by putting
an enlarger onto the toilet seat and some development trays in the shower is
nice for some fooling around, but not for producing a reasonable quantity of prints.
The throughput rate would be far too low. While I do hope to be able to set up
a real darkroom again in the future, for now I will continue to use a hybrid
workflow, meaning I take my photos on film, scan them and use the computer to
prepare them for printing.
question of the throughput – or maybe better output – rate, there were further
requirements which the printing process would have to meet:
– The prints need to be reasonably archivable
(they should not degrade before I do, print durability should be in excess of
– The prints should cost as little as possible
(a drugstore print of the size 13x18cm costs around 0,40€. Nice for a few quick
prints, but too much when having to print a lot)
– Print quality (resolution, tonality, luster)
should still be as high as possible
experiments with on-demand digital photobook printing, which proved to not be
right for me due to reasons of cost and lack of control over the process, I
tried to print the photos myself using an inkjet printer. That one did a good
job preserving the tonality of the negatives, but I do not print every day (or
even week) and the danger of inks drying out in the printer is looming too
large. (The printer wasting ink on purpose to flush out its printing heads is
also unacceptable for financial reasons.)
I then stumbled upon “xerography” or electro photographical printing. The prints meet common archival standards and are not very costly in production. Their only downside is that tonality is not too good (resolution is reasonable though). Even if electro photographical printing sounds exotic to you, you probably have already encountered the process: It is the same one used in the humble photocopier. Following some deliberations, I figured since exhibition prints would be done through a different process anyway, xerography is the way to go for producing this little ongoing catalog of my work.
The editorial workflow for “reflex”
After the question of printing process was settled, another decision had to be made on how to edit my photos. Sometimes I work on limited projects, which turn into little portfolios of photos almost by themselves (compare the Greek wedding), but what about the photos I take day-to-day without any connecting thread? These form the bulk of photos I shoot, by a wide margin.
I decided to select 36 out of all the photos I take every quarter year (Jan.-Mar., Apr.-Jun., Jul.-Sept., Oct.-Dec.), purely based on the criterion of which photos I like. These will be printed, presented and archived together. What results over time will be a kind of photographic reflection of the world around me, in the shape of a photographic journal. The focus is smack on the pictures, usually printed one per page with as little captions provided as possible.
Shoko helps me to embed the 36 photos selected into a simple layout using the
software InDesign. After printing the pages, I stitch them together between two
sheets of packaging paper, resulting in a durable booklet of 21cmx21cm. On the
front of this, the most important information about the content is given, as
well as the issue’s number.