"Narrating with Photographs: A Sociology of Tokyo"

An Attempt of Observational Method using Photographs
<<hCollective Photographic Observationh as a New Visual Research Method>>

The Collected Works of our Project

2010i17 piecesj
2009i58 piecesj
2008i22 piecesj
2007i22 piecesj
2006i23 piecesj
2005i23 piecesj
2004i21 piecesj
2003i30 piecesj
2002i30 piecesj
2001i30 piecesj
1999i30 piecesj
1998i31 piecesj
1997i30 piecesj
1996i30 piecesj
1995i35 piecesj
1994i30 piecesj

A photograph is "a space in which unconsciousness is woven", "a bundle of fable primitives", and sometime becomes "a window through which one looks into the society" (Refer to the photographic performance argument, and the photographic media argument by W.Benjamin, R.Barthes, P.Bourdieu, J.Baudrillard, H.S.Becker, K.Iizawa, K.Nisimura, etc.). Based on these characteristics which photographs have, an attempt that one gazes and analyzes the society on the basis of photographic performance as a variant of observation is being conducted.
@@@@A drama that is compressed in an instance. Through a sheet of photograph, Tokyo ever changing complicatedly is read and interpreted with the "sociological eye." That is the project named "Narrating with Photographs: A Sociology of Tokyo" at which "The Community for Observation of Tokyo People" (Goto's Seminar, Dept. of Sociology, Nihon Univ.) has worked since 1994.@
Members create a group of works (= qualitative collective data on which multidimensional reality in Tokyo is impressed) though the process composed of the following steps: putting a scene that indicates symbolically Tokyo (to generalize more, it can be spread as far as contemporary cities / contemporary societies) and Tokyoites (urban city dwellers / moderns) in a single sheet of photograph; putting up a suitable title on it; and adding a short explanation with sociological description (in about 300-400 Japanese characters). In the field of seminar, the members interpret again the group of works in a collective manner (through the work of a group) and finish it into a new group of works with a title and an explanation being elaborated ("a sociology of Tokyo as an omnibus") on the point of view that how vividly each sheet of photograph that have been mirrored from the point of site of each member (gaze = recognition of reality / recognition of Tokyo) can describe the various aspects of Tokyo and Tokyoites and how much the sociological knowledge can be woven therein. In the midst of this process, field works such as interviews at the field etc. are performed in parallel, where through the width, the depth, and positivity in its interpretation are secured.
@@@The interaction through the gaze and dialogue sharpens keenly "the sense of wonder" (R.L.Carson) toward Tokyo and Tokyoites and enhances "the sociological imagination" (C.W.Mills) and its power of expression. Moreover, it urges the "visualization and knowledgization" of the processes and structures of the society which are hidden behind the various events and hence hard to see and also which have not been grasped fully until that time through the process of sniffing out and reading the reality and spinning out a thread of common words. The attempt designated as "the method of collective photographic observation" has potentially the possibility of extending the extension of the Social Research.

Noriaki GOTO
Professor of Sociology
College of Humanities & Sciences, Nihon University
3-25-40 Sakurajosui, Setagaya-ku
Tokyo 156-8550 JAPAN
E-mail: ngotoh*chs.nihon-u.ac.jp (*=@)

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