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DURING the mid-1990s, Naoya Hatakeyama wandered the Tokyo streets at night, observing the patterns of lights in and around the city.
When spotting perplexing or alluring forms he would photograph each with a reduced exposure time, to eliminate insignificant detail and allow the light alone to reveal the semi abstract motifs within the image.
“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 only the lights of the buildings,” he said once, describing his modus operandi.
Simple it may sound but this is far from snapping willy-nilly.
Hatakeyama always had with him, and used, a tripod and his sense of composition just mesmerises as does his impressive ability to look, see, study and allow himself be immersed totally in the view before him.
This trademark situationist approach is about seeking to rediscover anew forsaken elements of the city by wandering with no intended purpose, day or night — but with eyes wide-open — and redefining it to oneself through such psychogeographic experience.
As Guy Debord or the “flaneur” Charles Baudelaire would have it: it’s all about taking ownership of it to end the alienation it induces in its ordinary inhabitants.
From the shimmering filigree patterns of stairwells and walkways in the night, to dynamic diagonal shapes in apartment buildings, to illuminated enigmatic empty advertising hoardings, Hatakeyama stunningly unveils the night’s overlooked wonders one after another.
By doing so he is, at the same time, encouraging attentive observation and educating in the nursing of an awareness of the aesthetic fulfilment that contemplation of imperceptible and liberating beauty in our surroundings could bring.
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