AFTER RISAKU: photographs (2017)

Myself. Ichibe Apartment, 2017.

I am first and foremost a writer of fiction and poetry, and so photography, I would say, is a field in which I remain an amateur. But there are several things I can’t deny: that we live in a world that loves images, and that Instagram, for several years now, has been the way I understand how best to represent the life around me in a photograph.

Several stylistic tendencies have emerged over years of photo-taking: I have a fondness for the backs of people (facial expressions are too didactic for my taste), and I like to frame my subjects in situations where highlights and shadows are nicely balanced. Recent use of both a film (thanks Sophia!) and a digital (thanks Saif!) camera has also taught me much about how certain focus levels can create “bokeh” effects – this was especially pleasing in the way it created filmic moods, as well as how it allowed shapes to be blurred to the point of abstraction. But that’s all I can say, I think, about my foray into photography; it remains awfully limited in scope and execution, especially in contrast to the works of others whom many people around the world admire. That I am all too aware.

When Lomography contacted me for this “creative collaboration”, I saw it as an opportunity to further refine whatever sense of style I have. I’ve always been chasing this feeling of the sublime – it’s part of my life’s calling, I think, to want to recreate it for others – and in turn, Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (1817) is an image that I’ve been seeking to recreate over and over again. And I remember chancing upon Risaku Suzuki’s photography at a Tokyo Opera City showcase two years ago, and I was deeply moved by how he manipulated focus to evoke a sense of intimacy and scale, all in the same frame. Two photos here, both involving flowers, are a nod to his influence over this series.

It is my hope that, with these photos, people are allowed to feel the same sense of awe that overtook me when I returned to Japan for a two-week holiday in late February. Having been loaned the Lomo LC-A Minitar-1 Art Lens, I made a stylistic decision to fix my focus at the “INF” setting, allowing my subjects up close to be blurred against an otherwise sharp and defined background. Doing so helped me capture a sense of being dissolved into the wider world, and of being undone by the circumstantial environment that we find ourselves in; when a photograph demands that we become nothing but shape and colour.