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Mayu Kanamori felt her photography was an intrusion on live performance - until she found a way to incorporate her movement and shutter sounds. She performs with Embedded at CuriousWorks, Suite 402 11 Randle St Surry Hills on May 18.
What is involved in “live” photography?
Live photography is what happens when I am on stage with performers and I project the images I shoot simultaneously. It all started because I had been photographing Jim Denley playing music and Tess de Quincey dance. I became very conscious of the sound my shutter made and how my movements could disturb their performances. Yet when I photographed them without an audience, I was moving around taking photographs from different angels like I was dancing with Tess and shutter sounds were making music with Jim. I started experimenting with becoming part of the performance and the photographs I was taking became part of it too.
What do you hope to achieve?
I want to have a good time with my collaborators. I hope the audience enjoys themselves as well. And perhaps I might inspire other photographers to try something different with their medium. It’s great to experiment, break the rules and not be afraid.
Working in live photography has had positive effects on my normal day to day freelance photographic work. It has loosened me up a little - I think I have always been a bit uptight - wanting to make my shots look good instead of taking photographs for the sake of it. This exercise gave me another type of photographic language which allows me to be more spontaneous, less precious. I still make sure there are good useable photographs for the client but now I am able to switch to another way of photographing - an intuitive collaboration with whoever I photograph, the sharing of space and time.
Who else is involved on your performance on May 18?
I am shooting live on stage with spontaneous music by Embedded, who are some of Australia’s most prominent and respected contemporary spontaneous musicians: Sam Pettigrew (bass), Rishin Singh (trombone), Monica Brooks (accordion), Jim Denley (woodwinds).
How will it differ to other live events you've put on in the past?
My past live events have basically been documentary story telling. I have narrated true stories live on stage while showing my photographs. Sometimes with dancers and musicians present. Whether it was about an Aboriginal woman’s search for her Japanese father (The Heart of the Journey), the story of a Japanese tourist who was wrongly incarcerated for drug trafficking (CHIKA: A Documentary Performance) or the road story of artists visiting Japanese cemeteries around Australia (In Repose), they all had a linear story line.
This time there is no story line. However it is part of my ongoing exploration of the boundaries of documentary photography and the documentation process. Arguably the most honest of its kind as there are no edits. The photographer is present in person as a witness and is witnessed. Everyone can see that I didn’t say “smile!”
Every click of the shutter - whether the image is out of focus or if I make a mistake in exposure or composition - is displayed for all to see. It is also an understanding that a photographer’s presence is meant to affect the photographed and a photographer is mean to be affected by those we photograph. So is the audience. Everything and everyone affects each other.
PLATFORM 2 was similar to Live Photography with Embedded, except there were dancers. This time it is with musicians only, allowing me to concentrate less on movement and more on the musical collaboration with my camera sounds.