Now this is a hard book to find. And if you do find it, you’ll realise that its not available for less than 250$ anywhere (trust me, I’ve spent hours on this part). Looking at Bruce Gilden’s work online, it’s difficult to really absorb it, small screen size images don’t do justice. But as soon as you see this book, it justifies every bit of money it demands.
Beautifully hardbound in bright red , the very first thing to hit you is its graphic element. It’s loud and shouts out to you, “WHAT”! The fabric cover is embossed with a figure of a lion (or a dragon maybe) in the front without a name. Look closely and you’ll notice that the spine secretly introduces you to the title “GO by Bruce Gilden”. Is it subtle modesty on behalf of the photographer? Not really, soon you’ll grasp the fact that its because he can’t really be bothered.
Opening this book is a delight. You really don’t know what to expect and when you do get in, it’s a rollercoaster ride, not high up in the air but down in the tunnels and dark dungeons. Images are printed full bleed on each page, high contrast, without hesitation or apology. The images themselves are infinitely bold, surreal, like being inside a slasher grindhouse movie. And if that was not enough, they are placed alongside Japanese anime, playing on the excessive graphic nature of the work.
If we look at the subject matter, the book mostly revolves around the dark underbelly crime-culture of Japan. Pictures of Yakuza, people on the street, prostitutes and common thugs. The layout is something that really shows how Bruce plays with the pictures. The way he connects images is simple, profound and lets mind wander dangerously into self created stories.
Bruce’s work is very highly inspired by noir but it’s not moody like Dennis Stock. Instead its grotesque, like a gun fired point blank in your face. Bang Bang!
Amusing, intriguing and “in your face”, GO is a book which I desperately want. This is not just a project by Bruce, it’s him caged in a book with fiery eyes, staring out at you. If you have seen Bruce’s work before, you’ll love it even more after this book and if you haven’t, you’ll love it anyway. So start saving money cause this book needs to be in your library.
If you liked the work, then you should have a look at his portfolio on his personal website. Bruce’s work is really controversial and for most people its like chalk and cheese, you either love him or hate him. Eric Kim did a article about him too, have a look at it here.