Photobook Review: Photograph - Yuji Hamada

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Photobook Review: Photograph - Yuji Hamada

Review by Rohan Hutchinson

The majority of Yuji Hamada’s work is photographic documentation of experimental light forms and how these forms connect the natural and built environments, either in a conceptual or physical manifestation. 

This is seen most accurately in his series titled Primal Mountain where Hamada exaggerated constructed elements of mountain ranges through the use of light. This is also evident in his collaborative work made with Tamami Iinuma for the project Sender/receive where the duo used a camera obscura to capture architecture details in reverse. Rather than using light to focus on the landscape outside of the building the duo took light internally and exposed elements of the interiors construction. These details are then revealed throughout the pages of the broadsheet publication using UV ink and a black light torch that is included with the book purchase in an edition of 30 – more complex re-combinations of light. 


As you turn the pages of Hamada’s 2014 publication titled photograph at first and second glance the works seem to expose a connection between the natural and built environments, one can see a kind of harmony that coexists within these two opposite elements. Yet after turning the pages further and getting deeper within the book a sense of beauty and contemplation becomes evident through the use of light and a sense of discovery amongst the vernacular. This is enhanced by earlier Hamada experimentation that lead him to construct a homemade smoke machine that is powered from his car. This contraption enabled him to enhance and manipulate the depicted sunlight in his photographs and highlight details of the seemingly banal urban places. 

The publication is designed in a humble fashion and is a photobook that is more concerned about the correct use of paper stock to connect the images and their intention than trying to stand out through fancy design. And as such, it is beautifully produced on an uncoated stock that compliments the subtleness of the film grain.

Although, the slipcase is somewhat annoying when combined with the large flimsy format of the publication and the uncoated cover is easily marked. In all, this is a photobook made for book lovers, those that are not concerned with keeping their publications in perfect condition and encourages frequent visits. 

Photograph was published by Lemon Books in an edition of 700 with four varied cover images and won the 2014 First Photobook Award at Paris Photo 2014. It is currently out of print. 

Yuji Hamada Website

Rohan Hutchinson is a photographic artist based in Melbourne. He holds a diploma of new media (Swinburne University) and bachelor of visual arts Latrobe University) both with a photographic major. His primary research has been into Japanese Architecture and design theories and he has participated in Artist in residences programs both in Japan and Canada. In addition to exhibiting Hutchinson has published several artist books both printed locally and in Japan and has had books published by the Velvet Cell (2017) and Perimeter editions (2018). 


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