I visited the Tate Modern on 12 August primarily to see the Andy Warhol exhibition. The work that most appealed to me is shown below – in particular, the red Lenin. I love the saturated colours and the use of negative space.
I’ve not seen the work of the Japanese photographer Naoya Hatakeyama before. At the Tate, the work was shown in a dimly lit room, but despite the relative darkness the lights in the photos were so bright that I thought they were being backlit. They weren’t.
Hatakeyama describes his approach to the series Maquettes/Light:
The night view of Tokyo is especially shimmering. One can often find nightlights regularly lining an exterior passageway that connects the individual units of an apartment building. The appearance of regularly lined fluorescent lights is characteristic of Tokyo’s skyline at night. I started taking pictures of this kind of light with a small camera around 1995. I got on a motorcycle every night and went out here and there and gathered the lights of the apartment and other buildings.
The photographs were taken using a small camera, placed on a tripod. When framing a subject, Hatakeyama paid particular attention to its verticality. He adjusted the settings on his camera, exposing his black and white film to light for two to ten seconds. For each image the chosen exposure was just enough to reveal a division between a building and the night sky.
Hatakeyama experimented with the display of the photographs. He first produced them as gelatin silver prints. Feeling something was missing, he made black and white transparencies from the same films. He assembled the original paper prints on these transparencies and placed them on light-boxes.
Layering both paper prints and transparencies emphasised the dark areas of shadow in his images while still allowing light to shine through the highlighted parts. The resulting works on light-boxes feature sharp contrasts, the darkest areas of his images double in density and the brightest points appear more brilliant. Hatakeyama titled the work Maquettes/Light. He felt his images of buildings at night, lit and scaled down, resemble architectural models.
I’ve not seen this before. Basically the only commentary for the Hatakeyama exhibition was a technical description of how he produces this work. As such it rather detracts from the artistic appreciation of the work focusing the viewer’s attention on technique and process rather than the artistic value.