Photobook Review: Photocopy - Go Itami


Photobook Review: Photocopy - Go Itami

Review by Isabella Capezio

The crowd inched closer when Go Itami’s photocopy was announced as the next item for auction at the Tsuka Project fundraiser leading up to the exhibition in June at the Centre for Contemporary Photography. Potential buyers standing towards the back with stiff, unrevealing dispositions were piqued with the announcement, suddenly hurdling towards the book for one final critique of the object and its interesting and unusual mechanics.

Photocopy, published by Tokyo underground Art/Music/Publishing platform Rondade, is a representation of both the publisher and the artist’s experimental style. Particularly noteworthy is the format of the photobook, with each of the 1000 copies having its own, unique photo sequence. Laden with pop culture aesthetics, photocopy oscillates between forms associated with the photobook, while remaining as an art object. 68 images are plug bound in the top left corner creating a colour swatch of photographs taken in Itami’s home city of Tokyo. Photocopy demands attention when interacting with it; on a flat surface, using one hand, one image after another may be extracted from the thick pile, presenting more like an official legal document than a linear narrative work. 

The semi-gloss paper holding the weight of both intricate details and saturated colours appears durable enough to fold over itself on its bind, replicating the photographer’s attitude towards photographing; attentive, self-reflexive, and simplified. 

While the artist makes clear that the sequence of photos is inconsequential, previous photobooks have trained us to pay close attention to the edit as a means to illicit intentions of the photographer and the overarching narrative of the work. We can’t help but find similar shapes between a bubble hovering uncomfortably close to a woollen jumper and an abstracted gold foil off an eaten Christmas chocolate coin. A memory of the image we passed three pages back springs into the foreground when something similar or absurdly juxtaposed appears, a past which is fixed in the future. Images of architecture, people, still lives, obscured iconic photographs, and even his own past work meet you confidently as you flip the pages.

With very little mention of skies or horizon lines, Itami holds us within his cleverly composed scenes and angles that encourage two-dimensionality and allude to scope. This surface level leads us to a psychogeographical conceptualisation of the work; a result of an emphasised playfulness in its subject matter and presentation, where both memory and record are actively entangled. 

Through a similar process in the philosophical questioning of reproduction, repetition and interpretation I translated from English to Japanese and back again (multiple times to the point of misunderstanding) Itami’s statement explaining his book. Amongst the odd phrases and incoherent passages, “mutual interference” (this idea for Itami results in an image being formed) translated to “intentional interference” which neatly articulated Itami’s knowledge of photography's betrayal. The 1000 different ways you can read this photobook is, as Itami notes, “somewhere close to what you actually see.” Photocopy is self-referential, it exudes it’s “thingness.” The photograph and the photograph’s impression reveals a gap; one that Itami does not attempt to bridge, but instead, he waves happily from the other side. 


Go Itami's Website

Isabella Capezio is a Melbourne based photographer and University lecturer at Photography Studies College, and RMIT University. After completing her BA in Photography at RMIT she went on to co-found and direct Ruffian Gallery, a home to socially aware photographers in Melbourne’s West.
Isabella is the Australian education liaison for street art collective Dysturb. At present, Isabella is the coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Photobook Archive that promotes the photobook medium and its importance as a relevant and tangible form of visual art within the region. She has traveled widely within the Asia-Pacific to facilitate workshops and discussions. Isabella is interested in the role of photobooks, the importance of visual literacy and community building via photography.


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