the incidental (chance) and the inevitable (fate)
One step out of the house his journey is already begun, says the photographer. Curtains of darkness and swirls of light waft quietly down, everything pulses alive and trembling. The outside world pretends quite incidentally to open door after shut door before the photographer's eyes. The 1970s. Unable to distance himself from his photos, Daido Moriyama kept taking photos incessantly, even as he ventured forth through what must have been the depths of profound confusion, nonchalantly stockpiling 35mm and half-size color images faster than could ever be shown. When people seek to overcome misfortune, they attempt to recast a meaning to the suffering that knocked upon their door. As if all the seemingly accidental occurrences concealed some catalyst to circumvent further calamity and spring them to the next step. Just fateful chance? Perhaps. The world is full of all kinds of happenstance if we pay attention, and when the incidental (chance) turns to the inevitable (fate) then some driving positive force kicks in. If for instance someone wanders the streets with camera in hand the chances are good he's l meet up with people doing their business by the roadside or a wild dog glaring white-eyed in the distance or a black cat stealing across a graveyard or a little girl running barefoot through the nightclub district in a pale dress. (Granted, that was the look of the times, but still ...) We can only think the photographer himself was a magnet attracting coincidences, snapping away just as soon his hand could lift the viewfinder to take them in. And with each click of the shutter, he strafed by the world outside at peak intensity. Is Moriyama's world the same everyday place as ours? Are our chance encounters so very dissolute? Whatever, seen in his photos, the moments all shine equally bright like a necklace of matched pearls. Whatever Moriyama himself pulled into frame or not, viewers can seek, consume, digest and make yet other illusions from the photographer's shadow in the images that passed through his body.
When I began casting about for a fourth MMM title, it was none other than Moriyama himself who suggested we do a book of his unpublished color positives from the 1970s. And in typical fashion, he just handed the designer file pages of actual film strips. Bondage pics he shot one time only at S&M novelist Oniroku Dan's request to make enough money to travel to Europe, since collected in the volume Kagero. Nudes for running in Japanese Playboy back then. Snapshots of glinting neon nighttowns, backside figures walking in train stations seen only once and never again, the thrust-chin sidelong disdainful glance of a woman, scenes drawn to Moriyama's unwavering compass needle.
He drank it all in, with that tough gut of his. And not just fragmentary moments, but forty whole years worth. After several decades film takes on mildewy discolorations until we're peering at scenes through a blur of frosted glass. As if the crisp coating of reality had worn away over time, misting into hazy mirages of memory.