Saturday, September 28, 2013

Bringing the Jomon Era to Life

Jomon Era artifacts are easy to find but not always easy to appreciate. This photography brings them to life. Here is what The Japan Times online edition reports about Jomon Era artifact photographer Tadahiro Ogawa: Camera artist casts new light on Jomon millennia by Edan Corkill Staff Writer Sep 28, 2013 The Jomon Period of Japanese history is so shrouded in the mists of time that any bid to fathom its secrets stretches even the usual astonishing bounds of prehistoric archeology. Yet as amateurs and experts alike have continued unearthing and studying 2,000- to 10,000-year-old examples of Jomon pottery and stone tools for more than a century, the pieces of the puzzle are gradually coming together. It is only six years ago, for instance, that the discovery of unusually large beans — or the holes where they had been encased in the clay of Jomon Period pots — provided concrete evidence that people living in these islands so very long ago had been able to domesticate certain plant species. Such new understandings, of course, normally come courtesy of archeology and science. But there has been another endeavor that has helped bring into focus those mysterious times: photography. Indeed, for the last 30 years Tadahiro Ogawa is one who has dedicated himself to photographing Jomon Period artifacts — and to date he has around 30,000 of them in his picture archive. In fact the Tokyo resident has photographed at pretty much every one of the more than 500 museums nationwide that stocks objects from the Jomon Period — which is conventionally dated at from around 12,000 B.C. to 300 B.C. And due to his policy of granting free use of his photographs to the institutions with which he collaborates, Ogawa’s work has become ubiquitous in the field, adorning the covers of countless books, posters, bags and academic studies — and, in one case at least, even a local phone book. Judging from the evidence to hand, it seems that few of those museums are fastidious about crediting their unpaid photographer, but it is nevertheless easy to identify his handiwork. For starters, Ogawa’s photographs of ancient Jomon clay objects depict vivid and dramatic topographies of shade, shadow, highlights and depth. Where archeological documentation of such finds tends to prioritize even, flat lighting, Ogawa manages to capture in his shots such texture and physicality that it’s as if they are there in the room with you — objects you could reach out and touch and feel. Effortlessly, his images transport you back to a time when such objects were an everyday presence — when they were real rather than being revered antiquities.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Earthquakes=Space Music?

Apparently the waves that travel through the Earth and cause the ground to roll and buildings to rattle are not the only ones produced by earthquakes: Megaquake felt in space AFP-JIJI Mar 12, 2013 WASHINGTON – A European Space Agency satellite circling the Earth was able to detect the massive 2011 quake that ravaged Japan, resulting in the loss of some 19,000 lives and causing massive destruction, a new study said Sunday. “The atmospheric infrasounds following the great Tohoku earthquake . . . induced variations of air density and vertical acceleration of the GOCE platform,” said a report published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The Gravity Ocean Circulation Explorer is the European Space Agency super-sensitive satellite that acts like an orbital seismologist. Scientists argue that earthquakes not only create seismic waves that travel through Earth’s interior, but large tremors also cause the surface of the planet to vibrate like a drum. This produces sound waves that travel upward through the atmosphere.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Carved in Stone The above link is to an artifact left by Native Americans in Rhode Island, USA. There is a similar (probable) artifact etched into a cliff on Yonaguni, an island in Okinawa. The Native American one looks like a cougar in profile; the Yonaguni one looks like an outline of a sea eagle.