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Masayuki YOSHINAGA: Chokkan
Written by Takeshi HIRATA   
Published: June 01 2009

     In the exhibition entitled “Masayuki YOSHINAGA: Chokkan”, which was held at CASHI in Asakusabashi, Tokyo, we could enjoy looking at a set of photographs which had been selected from photos contained in a photo collection named “ZOKU”, issued by Little More in 2003. What did Yoshinaga aim to convey to us by showing these photos again, six years after they had been issued?
     To answer this question, let me introduce a blurred photo showing a group of bikers riding through the streets. Such a blurred photo could be taken only at point-blank range by someone who was running parallel to the bikers. Thus, Yoshinaga can be said to have been running side by side with these young people, the motorcycle gang. The blur of this photo represents a “distance” between Yoshinaga and the young “bikers” who live in this actual world rather than that between him and the so-called “bikers” who live in the world of imagination.

"Shinshu-rengo, Aozora-shukai - 1025" (2001); Type C-print, 1200x1500mm, ed.3
© Masayuki YOSHINAGA / courtesy of CASHI

     There is a movie titled “Sailor Suit and Machine Gun” (1981), which was directed by Shinji Soumai. In this movie, there is a scene where a yakuza member, named Hiko (Shinpei Hayashiya), rents a bike and drives it down a street in Shinjuku at midnight, with a yakuza boss (Hiroko Yakushimaru) sitting on the back. In this scene, the camera tracks the bike from the front with a long shot. This scene successfully depicts the emotional unbalance of high-school students who become members of the yakuza, by creating a blurred image probably because of the speed of the moving bike and the darkness of the night, and the use of handheld cameras. As the bike moves away, the sound effects are gradually lost and other bikes, which have been running alongside it, move off one after another and leave the screen, until finally there is only the one bike on which Yakushimaru and Hayashiya are riding, as if they are the only two people in the world of this movie. This scene evokes for us the anxiety of youth towards the future by simply directing cameras fixedly onto the midnight street.

     It can be said that this scene makes the movie a masterpiece in terms of overcoming the technical difficulties of shooting (a long shot using a handheld camera is usually used in documentary films) through depicting a story in which young people living in Tokyo encounter yakuza members, which would not normally happen, utilizing a long shot throughout the movie, while depicting the culture of the yakuza by using cliché in a comic style.

     What was depicted in the movie, “Sailor Suit and Machine Gun”? Here we saw the difference between this actual world and the yakuza world, and we had a different viewpoint on the culture between these two worlds. As the title suggests, this movie tells the story of an encounter between people who live in the world of “Sailor Suit” and those who belong to the world of “Machine Gun”. And also, the title of this exhibition, “CHOKKAN”, implies two meanings, namely, “chokkan(直感)”, which means the instinct, and “chokkan(直管)”, which represents a bike without a silencer. Therefore, it can be said that “CHOKKAN” collectively means “roar”, which is the sound of a bike without a silencer, ridden by a motorcycle gang. Indeed, Yoshinaga’s photographs can be said to represent the roars we hear from bikes without silencers, “CHOKKAN”. He tells us, through the title of this exhibition, of a world in which different cultures mix.

     In terms of looking at and listening to the differences in culture directly this photo cannot be said to be of “a group of bikers” but of our real world. It is important for us to look fully at different culture areas, without having either objection or hostility towards them. This is exactly what Yoshinaga tells viewers by showing his pictures again in this exhibition.
(Translated by Nozomi Nakayama)

Last Updated on October 09 2016

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