A MAP OF THE EAST By Leo Rubinfien (Thames and Hudson, $288) PHOTOGRAPHER Leo Rubinfien became so lost in his quest to package his 100,000 pictures of the Far East that he entitled the resulting book A Map of the East . In his own introduction to this soft-cover volume containing 107 colour photos, Mr Rubinfien, who moved to Japan at the age of nine and lived there for many years, appears rudderless in his struggle with the monumental task of trying to organise the pictures he took over an eight-year period starting in 1979. In the search to find a cohesive direction for his pictures, he takes such a convoluted route that if laid out for a motorist it would look more like a plate of spaghetti. Assessed individually, the photos are an excellent documentation of life in the East and some have appeared in one-man exhibitions at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Seibu Art Forum in Tokyo. They take the viewer up the side streets, through the valleys and past the lives of people in the Philippines, Bali, India, Burma, Hongkong, Vietnam and Thailand. They show how cultural sensitivity and an eye for composition and light can combine to portray the common threads that join the diverse Asian populations. Assessed as a whole, they are a confusing collection of wonderful photos that only needed better organisation. For people familiar with the Asian landscape and its inhabitants, the pictures present an amusing guessing game. Because the photographs are left without classification or attached captions, it's up to the viewer to either work out their origin or turn to the picture directory at the back of the book. A photo of war-era apartment buildings in Hongkong's Mid-Levels faces a page with a cigarette advertisement found in Calcutta's Central Market while the interior of a Chinese temple in Bangkok is paired with a street scene showing businessmen in Tokyo. A Map of the East, offers an assortment of high-quality photographs. But scissors and glue might prove useful so you can organise the pictures for yourself into a collection with a real sense of direction.