Gomi Akira

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Gomi Akira 五味 彬 (1953.6.5- ) Tokyo.

Graduated Nihon Univ., Dept. of Photography in 1977. Lived in France and studied with Laurence Sackman and Michel Benton. Returned to Japan in 1983.

Established a company in 1993 called Digitalogue which produces multimedia photography works. Became a leading Japanese photographer in digital photography.

Best-selling photo book "Yellows 2.0 Tokyo 1993" is a catalog of 100 Japanese female bodies. Almost an anthropological or medical study of modern-day Japanese women. Similar books on American women and Chinese women were also published.

Last LooseSocks (CD-ROM)

Reviewed on: July 25, 1999 Last modified: 2005-04-03 Numerous portraits of 101 Japanese high school girls.

間もなく卒業する101人の女子高生のポートレート集。そろそろルースソックスを捨てる時期。

Published: Aug. 3, 1998 Publisher: Digitalogue ISBN: 1234 Price in Japan: ¥7,140 Qualities: Hybrid CD which runs on both Windows 95/98 and Power Macintosh. Color photos all in color. Disc is in cardboard box. Size: -- Language: Japanese and some instructions in English

As usual, Digitalogue produces some the slickest and most elegant CD-ROMs in Japan. Last LooseSocks is no exception. It is a pleasure to view and navigate this CD-ROM.

The title refers to the girls' last year in high school--the last year when they wear these "loose socks" which have been part of their standard fashion and unofficial uniform (along with a miniskirt) since the mid-1990s. (The official school uniform does not include miniskirts and loose socks so these girls change socks or hike up the skirt when school's out.)

Loose socks are the foremost symbol (even a status symbol) of Japanese high school girls. They look like leg warmers with the characteristic bunching of material above the ankles. These socks are almost always white, and the favored brand is Smith, priced at 1,800 yen per pair. They are costly socks, and most high school girls can afford to have only a few pairs. Many of them keep wearing them even when there are holes in them. And some girls wear the same pair for a few days in a row.

Loose socks may look good on these girls, but apparently they are not so healthy for the feet. For one thing, the bunched-up material obstructs ventilation of the feet, causing athlete's foot or abnormal skin conditions. It also results in smelly feet (about two or three times as smelly as the feet of male company workers). How do I know? A recent TV program used an odor detector to measure the smell of high school girls' feet and compared it with ordinary company workers' feet. That really took out the glamour of these loose socks.

This CD-ROM shows a collection of mainly studio portraits of 101 high school girls. Besides their school uniform, they also wear pajamas, swimsuit/bikini (sometimes), and casual dress. The studio portraits are full-length shots, but you can zoom up (by 300%) on any part of the picture. The girls are posed individually or in pairs or small groups. There are also Print Club photo stickers and graffiti photos (see a sample here) on display. You can view the photos by looking at an index and selecting a girl or you can be lazy and just view an automatic slide show (whose sequence changes each time). It is easy and elegant to navigate through the CD-ROM. It takes only about 5 min. to learn how to do it.

The girls themselves are quite varied. Some are dark-skinned and foxy-looking, while others might be light-skinned and bookwormish. A few girls even wear blue contact lenses, making their eyes look blue.

Each girl also has a fact sheet (handwritten by the girl) stating her first name, birthdate, measurements (sometimes left blank), favorite celebrities, favorite designer brands, favorite magazines, their dreams, and sometimes a scrollable photo of their handbag's contents (a cell phone is a common possession). All the girls were born around 1980 (give or take 1 or 2 years) and photographed in 1998. Unfortunately, nothing is in English.

The CD-ROM also comes with a screen saver which can be easily installed on Windows or Power Macintosh computers. When the screen saver kicks in, the screen turns white and an automatic slide show of full-length portraits starts. It's a great CD-ROM, but I wish they made it less expensive. After all, it should be cheap enough for high school girls to buy it. (Reviewed by Philbert Ono)


Written by Philbert Ono

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