Helmut Völter – The Movement of Clouds around Mount Fuji

2016 / 1st edition
Spector Books
34 x 24 cm, 376 pages
English
ISBN 978-3-944669-60-1

Only in the retrospect did it become clear to me that I was witness and actor in a transitional phase: disorderly crates, boxes, documents, and pictures – the materials of a forgotten scientific work with unclear status – are being turned into an organized and intelligible history. Abe’s research is returning to the public.

 

In the late 1920s, the Japanese physicist Masanao Abe built an observatory with a view of Mount Fuji. From it, over the course of fifteen years, he recorded the clouds that surrounded the mountain. He was interested in the scientific question of how the air currents around Fuji could be visualized by means of film and photography. Albeit unintentionally, Abe’s motifs fit into a long iconographic tradition: the mountain and the clouds. For decades his archive was left untouched in a Tokyo garden shed. Helmut Völter, who discovered Abe’s legacy while working on his book »Cloud Studies«, sifted through the images of the passionate cineaste who saw a combination of individual images, moving pictures and stereo recordings as the ideal form of scientific evidence.

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Negli ultimi anni 20 del 1900 il fisico giapponese Masanao Abe costruì un osservatorio con vista sul Monte Fuji. Da lì, per i quindici anni successivi, egli registrava le nuvole attorno a questa montagna. Era interessato allo quesito scientifico di come le correnti d’aria intorno a Fuji potessero essere visualizzate attraverso la pellicola e la fotografia. Seppure involontariamente, i soggetti di Abe si inseriscono in una lunga tradizione iconografica: la montagna e le nuvole. Per decenni il suo archivio è rimasto intatto in un casetta da giardino di Tokyo. Helmut Völter, che scoprì il lascito di Abe durante le sue ricerche per il suo libro Cloud Studies, ha setacciato le immagini dell’appassionato cineasta, che reperì nella combinazione di immagini singole, immagini in movimento e registrazioni stereo la forma ideale di prova scientifica.