We are really grateful to Nipnic, because we can now see the photographs we blogged about as “the pictures we can’t see.” They are by Akira Gomi, a Japanese photographer, who has apparently done similar series with Japanese, Chinese, and American women, and with Japanese men. You can see a large selection of the American women’s photographs here. Unsurprisingly, the women’s photographs can be found on the web, while the photographs of men seem to be much more elusive.
The photographs show a limited range of young women whose individuality shows, despite the dehumanizing context of the pictures. Gomi uses a repetitive set of poses which simplifies, minimizes differences, and create a false similarity. The women probably represent no more than a ten-year age range and while some could not be models, virtually all of them would be considered conventionally attractive. The repetition gives the feeling of a medical textbook or an artists’ reference, and in fact, the photographs are shown on the web as resources for artists. These photographs are more interesting as a structured project than as individual images: Muybridge without motion.
While portraits of nudes often reveal more about the person than clothed portraits, Gomi’s work is exactly the opposite, because the women’s bodies are all depersonalized by the rigidity of the poses. Thus, their clothed bodies (which may or may not be their own street clothes) appear to tell us more about them than the nudes.
Where Laurie’s portraits are about people’s personal body language and what’s written on their bodies, Gomi’s work is about variations on a theme.