Flashing up the Ethos and Discourse: A Critical Distance on the Works of Seiji Kurata

Toyoko Sato

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearch


Seiji Kurata is a Japanese photographer who emerged in the 1970s. With his medium format camera and strobe flash, Kurata crafted the street photo genre of Japan. The subjects of his works have been people, both anonymous and celebrity, as well as sceneries from urban construction sites. Although he studied in the Daido Moriyama Workshop in his beginning photographic career, Kurata even by then, it is said, already had his own style, which impresses observers with his expressive fierceness and compelling psychological grip. These fierceness and grip are connected to something, which I call positioned estrangement. Kurata works this out in a stance against the world of photographic humanitarianism.
Seeing his works as photographic ethnographies, my questions go to the meaning of the positioned estrangement: how can the balance between the photographer (Kurata) and the photographed (his subjects) be understood? Is the photographed actually his subject or object? How is the power of his photographs contested by viewers? Through a critical visual discourse analysis, I attempt to shed light on the aesthetic strategies and manifested ethos of Seiji Kurata’s positioned estrangement.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event2nd International Conference Photography and Academic Research: Images in the Post-truth Era - Birkbeck College, University of London, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Sept 20188 Sept 2018
Conference number: 2


Conference2nd International Conference Photography and Academic Research
LocationBirkbeck College, University of London
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
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