Joy Bao: Sensational Structure

Photo: Naoya Hatakeyama

 

Text by Joy Bao, Copyright 2020

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Sensational Structure

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Born in 1958, Naoya Hatakeyama is a Japanese photographer who works closely with both natural and city landscape. While his works are mostly documentary, Hatakeyama also develops a graphic style that shows his precise composition and formal elements. One of his most famous series, which is also included in Photography (London, Stone, Upton), is named “River Series” and records Tokyo’s river channels. The slim, vertical frame is divided by the concrete construction right in the middle, and presents two separated views of the building and its reflection. The river is a natural element, yet becomes a media that carries the manmade city view. However, the hierarchy between the actual view and its reflection is erased because of the clear separation in the middle of the frame that gives two portions equal size of space. The reflection is almost presented as an individual view, a more abstract and sensational reading of urban life. A similar contrasting reflection is presented in another series of work, “Underground”, shot in 1999. Focusing again on the water tunnel in Tokyo city, both the reality and its reflection are originally unknown for the viewers, as opposed to “River Series”. The incompleteness of the reflection highlights the construction of the tunnel, and with a central light that illuminates the dark underground space, the reflection creates a color scheme that is surprisingly similar to the galaxy.

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Photo: Naoya Hatakeyama

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Another series shot by Hatakeyama during the 90s, “Maquettes/Light”, turns completely to the sight of urban architecture and uses black and white photography to emphasize on the light and dark contrast in the city during night time. In the photo selected, the apartment building is stripped down to the graphic pattern of its structure, mainly the lights and fire escape on each floor. While the trace of people living disappears, the numerous individual illuminations add in warmth to the emotion aspect of the picture. Just as the previous two series, viewers can have a refreshing perspective of the structure of different sights that are familiar or unfamiliar, but at the same time keep an almost romantic reading for the works.

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Photo: Naoya Hatakeyama

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The more recent work shot in 2005 is from another series of his, “Blast”, in which Hatakeyama turns towards the documentation of a more violent event, the explosion of limestones. Unlike the previous three photos, the selected picture, just like other ones in the same series, depicted the explosive event and provide a vivid image of the middle of a certain motion. The selected photo particularly presents a gradation effect of colors with the dust created from the explosion. In a literal deconstruction of stable structure, the hazy dust becomes a contrasting element in terms of both texture and color, adding a mysterious layer to the powerful scene.

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Photo: Naoya Hatakeyama

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Similarly, in the most recent “Slow Glass” series, Hatakeyama also uses water drops on glass to add another layer to the pictures. The selected photography presents the bottom half of Tokyo tower in the night time behind the glass. Opposed to the earlier urban sights that contain a clear structure, here the viewers can only recognize a general shape of the tower as the lens focuses on the water drops. The harsh lines of architecture is softened, but it still remains recognizable from the signature red color and the shape. By eliminating a clear vision of structure, Hatakeyama partially masks the tower with an ambiguous yet gentle layer for the viewers.

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Photo: Naoya Hatakeyama

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Referenced Works:

Hatakeyama’s biography: https://www.sfmoma.org/artist/Naoya_Hatakeyama/

“Portfolio: Naoya Hatakeyama – Everything is Illuminated”: https://www.tate.org.uk/tate-etc/issue-46-summer-2019/naoya-hatakeyama-maquettes-light-everything-illuminated

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About The Author: Joy Bao is a senior enrolled at Bryn Mawr College. Class of 2020. To access additional articles by Joy Bao, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/summers-day/

 

This entry was posted in Art, Blog, Men, Popular Culture.

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