Japan Week: Nobutsugu Sugiyama : Cosplay Showcase
Today ends Japan Week and we extend a big thank you to Guest Editor Yochi Nagata for sharing the work of contemporary Japanese photographers…
Nobutsugu Sugiyama examines Cosplay culture in Japan. Nobutsugu has been active as a freelance photographer since his student days at Nihon University College of Art. He was based in Sydney for five years from 1986, and his work has encompassed advertising, magazines, photo collections and photo exhibitions, focused primarily on people and fashion. A critic appearing on television and in magazines, he am also a consummate lecturer, and a member of the Japan Advertising Photographers’Association.
A portrait is a record of an individual, and so in taking one, photographers will usually wish to delve into their subject’s inner self as well. They might choose a white background to lend the person sharper relief, or they might set the photo inside a room that indicates something about where that person is coming from.
Not so Nobutsugu Sugiyama, whose insistence is rather on doing purposely away with all suggestions of internality. His subjects are “cosplayers,” people who dress up as characters from the two-dimensional worlds of manga and anime. Cosplayers are ever looking to outdo one another in more closely “becoming” their character. And for exactly that reason, they remain forever obsessed with their characters’ outer looks and textures.
Indeed, it’s possible externality is what lies at the true heart of the photogénie that photography has always been so intent on pursuing.
In an added twist, Sugiyama takes each portrait from eight different angles to give a composite image that can be viewed while being rotated on an iOS/Android device. The three-dimensionality of the figures seems to only highlight their intrinsic flimsiness, rejecting all our best efforts to read into their depths.
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