New York Photo Review
NYPR Archives - 2010

Picture of the Week
Izima Kaoru
One Sun
Reviewer #1
Izima Kaoru, “Sentosa, Singapore” 2006

The photographs in ‘One Sun’ are about as pure a use of the medium possible. Working with a fish-eye lens and with film, Izima Kaoru places his camera in an area with a full view of the sky, opens the shutter at dawn, and closes it at sundown. All the rest of the work is done by the sun, the sky, passing clouds and a few tiny details along the edges. The movement of the sun is etched across the film, a perfectly straight line near the equator, a nearly perfect circle during summer in Norway, long arcs from places in-between. The line is broken when clouds move across the sky blocking the sun (the clouds themselves are too ephemeral to register) and the line swells and shrinks depending on the humidity. That’s it. A primal experience, and yet one that can only be visualized through the use of photography. The images are at once minimalist statements and totally believable, detailed scientific documents.

 by unidentified photographer.
Izima Kaoru, “Nordkapp, Norway #2” 2007

The images are come from a rather unexpected source. Izima Kaoru has spent a lifetime in the fashion/magazine world of Tokyo, and is best known as a photographer for a series of fashion-spreadable images of models and actresses posing as corpses, while wearing expensive designer outfits. (There are some hints along the edges of the ‘One Sun’ images that the actual locations are upscale resorts, but the sun shines on everyone.)

If there are any quibbles about the show, it is first in the presentation, which is a bit slick and trendy. Color images mounted on plexiglass with round plasic-looking frames seem a little silly for such majestic images. The other is with the color balance of the prints. Long exposures of film lead to what is called ‘reciprocity failure’– the component light-catch elements of the film lose their balance with each other. Also, there is no one correct color of the sky over 12 to 24 hours, it is constantly changing. The point is that the color that a photographer chooses to print in a situation like this is to a large extent arbitrary, and to my eyes the skies in all the prints (but not the images on the web) were just a bit too green (3 or 4 points of magenta I would say). A print from the corpse series behind the desk at the show suffered from this same shift. Not that any of this has deterred sales. These striking, sure-to-be iconic, prints were selling like $19,000 hot-cakes.

Izima Kaoru
One Sun

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