“Conductors of the Moving World”
In 1972 a delegation of Japanese police officials from Yamanashi Prefecture traversed the United States to study traffic control. Eizo Ota was the guy that always had the newest camera, always snapping, the guy everyone considered the shutterbug. Some of Ota’s photographs are portraits of Americans (a cop, a waitress, various attractive women, random people in the airport). Others are landscapes, city scenes, intersections and vehicles. There are portraits of Ota, unsmiling, in a variety of locations. The best examples feature a recently acquired cowboy hat.
These photographs were not seen until January of last year, when Ota’s granddaughter allowed a good selection to be published on Michael George’s blog.
The internet has equal appetite for publishing the now, while voraciously mining the past. Of course most of these discoveries are never tangible; they are considered and then left behind to exist only in the browser.
Not this time. A sublime book called “Conductors of the Moving World" has been published featuring Eizo Ota’s photos and
Brad Zellar’s text inspired by the photos. A man named Hans Seeger has designed the perfect contemporary 2011-1972 travel album. Each copy features 17 color photographs hand tipped into the book. (You can see the folks at Little Brown Mushroom assembling copies in this video.) There are different photographs in each copy, so yours will not match the spreads you see here.
“Conductors of the Moving World” is a modern photographic poem to travel, the mystery of a foreign land, the mysteries of 1972, explored with text, quotes from the Watergate hearings and “the Godfather.” Eizo Ota was traveling with several purposes, for his job and his one chance to explore the United States.
Anyone that has travelled to another country knows the multi-layered motivations: business, pleasure, curiosity. Many of us have the desire to use the camera to bring back some kind of evidence. We’ve all gone out into the world as tourists, found our souvenirs, hopefully discover humor when we fail at pleasure. We return home, realizing that we were curious about the wrong things.
“Conductors of the Moving World” is an artifact of high vernacular, and one of the most satisfying small photography books. You can own a version for $55, proceeds will be donated to Japanese earthquake relief efforts.