This INDIVIDUAL PAPER session consists of Individual Presentations. SCROLL DOWN to each paper listed to view the individual presentations. Open the presentation and click the VIEW PRESENTATION button located in the footer of the PAPER presentation pop-up.
In Session: Art & Politics of the Social Body in Japan
Society and the Graph: The New Photography Movement, Proletarian Photography, and Photography Theory in 1930s Japan
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
3:00pm – 4:30pm EDT
Harvard University, United States
The New Photography Movement swept through Japan from 1929 to 1933, dramatically expanding photographic subject matter and techniques while introducing an editorial and critical fixation on photographic realism. Accordingly, photographers of the New Photography Movement took a fresh interest in social themes, imagery of the masses, and industrial and urban scenery. I argue that graph montage, Horino Masao’s groundbreaking 1931 method of photographic layout and editing, emerged from this dual focus on realism and society in the New Photography Movement-- and, crucially, in sympathy with the proletarian arts movement. I trace how Horino Masao, a leader within the New Photography Movement, distanced himself from machine aesthetics to develop the cinematic idiom of graph montage as a means to “describe the characteristics of ‘Tokyo’ from the position of new realism,” and thus created a landmark method for the photographic representation of society. I further demonstrate how graph montage developed in close conversation with leaders of the Proletarian photography (or, Purofoto) movement. As a result of this ongoing dialogue, and the open critique of Horino's work, the Proletarian goal of using photography to capture contemporary inequality as a tool of social education became a driving force behind the development of graph montage. In this presentation, I will highlight key episodes in Horino Masao’s development of graph montage, concurrent texts and works by proletarian photographers, and a brief moment of convergence between the photographic avant-garde and the Proletarian arts movement that manifested through the shared theory of "contradiction" in photographic montage.