From the narrow alleyways of the Golden Gai to the flashing ads and jumbotrons of the Shibuya street crossings to the skyscrapers of Shinjuku and the cartoon billboards of the Akiba, Tokyo is an intensely visual and mesmerizing city. In the most innovative account of Tokyo’s urban sensations since Roland Barthes’ Empire of Signs, Stephen Barber in Tokyo Vertigo probes the many ways in which Tokyo projects and hides itself, focusing upon its filmic, photographic, and media cultures as well as its extraordinary urban history of destruction and reconfiguration.
Dividing his analysis into three parts, Barber first interrogates the disparate urban zones of Tokyo, from the districts of Shinjuku and Shibuya to the desolate peripheries where the megalopolis falls apart. He then examines Tokyo’s sexual and media cultures, through which the city’s compulsive fascinations and obsessions exert their power. Finally, he looks at the ways in which European culture collides with Tokyo’s urban formations, often generating unprecedented hybrid images and texts.
An anti-guidebook that intimately reveals the visual culture of this city in constant flux, Tokyo Vertigo includes original photographs by Romain Slocombe and a range of photographic art-works from the 1950s to the 2010s that exemplify the intensity and spectacle of the city.