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With one child strapped on her back, a Japanese mother in Tokyo kneels down to bathe her older youngster in a wooden tub, September 21, 1945
Vintage wire photograph on paper

Creation Place: Asia
Technique: Photography
Credit Line: Gift of Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg, in honor of Kathleen Stewart Howe
Accession Number: P2020.1.112

Tokyo today is a far cry from the pre-war “Imperial City”. All over there is hunger, filth, and the constant struggle for survival among the people who never once entertained the thought of defeat. Despite the dirt and rubble strewn all over, this Japanese mother tries to keep her family clean. Personal cleanliness is a custom among the Japanese. With one child strapped on her back, she kneels down on the ground to bathe her older youngster in a wooden tub. September 21, 1945.

Wire photographs were originally transmitted over phonelines, then later, by satellite. They were first used in the early 1920s. Associated Press became a leader with this. After pigment touch-ups, etc., the print is put into a drum (like a drum scanner). The image gets converted into audio tones that are transmitted. The tones are received and beamed onto photo-sensitive paper. Wire photographs are copies without originals---they are hybrid, transmitted objects. (Britt Salvesen, Curator and Department Head, Photography Department, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, March 30-31, 2022)

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