This, the most recent book from Daido Moriyama, is a well curated and edited sequence of 250+ images spanning Moriyama's work from the early 1960s through present day. The book was originally available for pre-order on Amazon under the title "Provoke: Daido Moriyama". The release date was shifted from original estimates and when the book shipped the title was changed to "Daido Moriyama: The World through My Eyes". It is a thick well designed book beautifully printed on good stock. The images are well reproduced showing excellent contrast and detail. The book starts with a short interview of Moriyama, followed by an introductory essay laying the ground for the images, and then after the work itself, ends with a brief biography.
If you collect Moriyama's work, this book will be a good addition to your collection. There is a vast quantity of images presented here. While the book shares images that have appeared in other books by Moriyama, the sequencing and context of images in this book is fresh and hypnotic. It is important that to note that although photography has become popularly known for the iconic individual image, work like Moriyama's is really best seen and understood in context of other images. His images thrive on sequence and derive fresh meaning from new sequencing.
For those unfamiliar with Moriyama's work, I would recommend doing an initial Internet search of images to familiarize yourself with his images. If you know his work already, then you know it is remarkable, contrasty, grainy, rough, blurred and intensely moving. Some of the work is grounded in the decisive moment, while other images float in a timeless unfocused way over the ordinary. Many of the images are grounded in the specifics of japanese culture over the last 50 years, as such they may seem to western eyes inherently exotic. But to me what is really impressive is how Moriyama is able to take the most ordinary content and find a way extract a kind of revelation, a transcendence, that goes so far beyond the actual content of the image: photograph of a cow, a dog, or a group of cats is so much more than would be expected.
These are not images that rely on traditional formalism or storytelling. The images require a rough kind of darkroom work to achieve the graininess and tonality that makes them work, and which allows them communicate what Moriyama intends. Black shadows and blown out highlights create a kind of luminance but one that is very different from the refined work of Weston or Penn. While there is a contiguous style, or active aesthetic, which holds all the work together, that aesthetic is not one of the "pretty". In fact I would argue that what holds the work together is a way of working and an ethic that governs the making of images. The ethic is of the artist being true to a way of seeing that passes reciprocally through himself, the camera, and the subject.
The instrumentality that emerged in the west during the renaissance and enlightenment formed a dichotomy of subject and object which has pervaded western art and thinking for centuries and which resulted in "the gaze". I think what is ultimately so compelling about Moriyama's work is that his ethic defeats (or at least works against) the gaze and the instrumentality of the medium of photography. This is work that allows the artist to connect his inner-self to the world around him. Moriyama has talked about photographing with is body. Where a photographer and observer like Arbus used to camera to look out starkly at the world, Moriyama is able to use the camera to blend his consciousness with the world around him in an honest and naked way. This then effectively breaks down the subject and object dichotomy creating a state of oneness and totality representing the artist and the world of which he is an inextricable part.