Geoffry D. Hinton
Shizuoka: A Photographic Point-of-View
Part 3
All texts and photographs copyrights owned by Geoffry Dean Hinton
     It is some thirty years ago now that I first became involved, however peripherally, with photography. My second job was working and training to be a commercial artist at the Auckland Star, one of New Zealand Newspapers Limited's publications. (It has since folded.) This was in the early seventies. I  was employed in the Sales-Promotions Dept. and tasked with, among other things, producing travelling displays covering 100 years of news, as the "Star" was then just 100 years old. All archival material was reproduced photographically. It was in fact, for an eighteen-year old, not too demanding, but an educational experience. The photography section consisted of two: The Englishman, Wilf Tunney, who generously and patiently taught me his craft and his assistant, the stunningly charming Christine Stranger. 
     In the early twenties Chrissy was the first woman I'd met who was already an accomplished photographer. She was also the perfect instructor -- speaking little but demonstrating by example.  
Chrissy was also in the perfect situation - she had two wonderful models to work with her sister, Vicki, and her cousin, Michelle. What a trio! Together they did everything: from making their own pink crushed velvet hot-pants to spooky Halloween-like party costumes to flatting together. God knows how they put up with me. By the time Chrissy left for London she had one of the most impressive photographic portfolios I've ever seen. later, she went to Spain and there, regrettably, we lost contact. I'm sure, though, in the seventies, Chrissy was a real success.
     In Auckland I also met the sculptor Adrian Hall who was then a visiting lecturer at Auckland University's Elam School of Fine Art. Intellectually, Adrian was a revelation and very generous with his time. I also first came in contact with Leon Narby's light sculptures and early films. Films were something else, as Auckland had a budding Film Festival. Adrian was creating these model narratives which he could then photograph, among other things. It was he and Leon who encouraged me to attend art school. 
Leon had secured a teaching position at the University of Canterbury, Ilam School of Art. I and my girlfriend, the journalist Sue Pizarro, followed suit and moved south. Leon didn't stay long at Ilam, just long enough to establish an Alternative Cinema and Scratch Orchestra, before joining TVNZ as a news cameraman. Now he is regarded as one of the finest cinemaphotographers in New Zealand. I still hold the impression of his sculpture, though. 
     Laurence Shustak then appeared on the scene. Shustak made his name in his native New York with a portfolio of gritty photos of factory scenes, and also as the photographer of Alan Kaprow's "happenings". He set up a new photography section within the art school and had a definite impact on students' attitudes towards his specialisation. As I was majoring in envirnmental sculpture photography was a mandatory subject.
     The ex-Ilam alumni Boyd Webb was somewhere in the background, too. Webb was residing in London and making his name with elaborate narrative constructions which he captured in spectacular colour photographs. He returned to Christchurch at this time for an exhibition at the McDougal Art Gallery with his photographs and a quirky performance piece, both predating the work of Gilbert and George. 
     Upon graduation I returned to Auckland and a crippled New Zealand economy. So much had changed in such a short period of time. A succession of jobs followed: art teacher, cocktail barman (at the hotel where Gauguin had stayed and there framed was his letter saying how much he detested the place), radio programme producer, film scoring and newspaper proofreader and so on. However, a lot of time was also spent learning to write while attempting to produce photographic images to accompany text. 
It is impossible to describe that entire period, the mid-seventies through to the early eighties. Auckland was in creative ferment with new bands appearing every few weeks, photographers and writers popping up everywhere, too. The future cultural direction of Auckland was formed in that period.
          Chris Hignett had also moved to Auckland upon graduating from Ilam. Chris spent several years studying Renaissance altar pieces and the constructing collaged narratives which he then photographed in polaroid before transferring the images onto transparencies. Amazingly detailed and crafted, technically perfect work. His exhibition before departing for Sydney was a high point of the time. There was also a counter movement, however. A nihilism had set in, due to the precarious econmic situation and photographers began producing anti-narratives and anti-aesthetic work, in both still, film and early video. This work gained a strong following as it coincided with the emergence of punk attitudes.This was also a period of extensive world travel. my girlfriend, Sue Griffin a.k.a. "Ko" and I had the chance to silmuteanously sublet an apartment in London (in a high-rise near Portobello Road -- ugly place, dead amn on the street, however a carefree summer catching up with many NZ friends) and in Paris a studio (wandering the streets at all hours, old cinemas, old photographer studios and tango dance-halls dating from the 30's -- cf Bertolucci). we were commuting between London and Paris. A lot of photos were taken with a 2 1/4 square Rolleicord. We tried to make a broadsheet "The New Scientist" -- it was a joke as it was anti-science, anti-method, chance material. A lot of photos with Surrealist-like text. Somehow those negs disappeared, although I have recently discovered one or two.
     Back in Auckland Sue went on to form a feminist-inspired dance-theater and made a new career for herself. 
     I had a studio in the city from then, too, and did a lot of work of an experimental nature, before the opportunity to work in Japan arrived. 
     In Japan there has been a very range of collaborations involving photography, film, video and multi-media including experimental works, TV documentaries, slide presentations for stage performances and developing photography projects for design students. 
     Japan must have one of the most visually-oriented populations of any nation. Technically, astonishingly achieved, too. Perhaps, though, Japan is too schooled in its visual comprehension as images are either perfect copies of that which went before, certain famous photographers such as Cartier-Bresson (the perfect moment and the anecdote) or schools of method (the German team of Brend and Hilla Bechner, the architectural photographers).
In terms of "classic" technique I refer to the New Zealander Brian Blake who did much work in China and Asia during the 1950's. Another tendency of Japanese photographers is to fluctuate between a fascination with the odd and bizarre or the perversely cute. These extremes are found in a wide range of circumstances. There also is, in general, movement between extreme artifice to a "realism", a surrogate humanism, to the intensely personal experience which often turns to be constructed away. There is then a certain limited range of expectations from photographic images but it is a range which also sees experience as being quantified. 
     For myself I do believe that the personal view-point holds value, although I am not particularly interested in what is a "good" photograph. An ad hoc chance approach interests me still, however, the present work does contain an element of methodology (as explained in the introductory notes). I've always been intrigued by the distance the Italian film-maker Michelangelo Antonioni travelled, from Swinging London of "Blow Up" (1966) to the Exitensialist aura of "The Passenger" (1975).
     The photographer in "Blow Up" (David Hemmings) is fed up with the role he plays publicly and finds time to escape to a park. There he tries to photograph the wind in the trees, or the lengthening shadows of the dying day, that is, the ephemeral rather than the material. With "The Passenger"(Jack Nicholson) it is the cinematographer's camera which focuses upon the minutia of existence. Apart fron the almost non-drama of these films there is also little method, a theme is merely implied, but there is an appreciation -- and apprehension -- of that which surrounds one -- and all. 
     Lastly I wish to thank this web-site's founder and editor, Robert-Gilles Martineau for inviting me to put up this text with photographs.