For his fourth photobook, Yoshinori Mizutani captured wild cormorants living in the city of Tokyo. While the series is a spiritual follow-up to his previous work "Tokyo Parrots", in which Mizutani focused on wild parrots roaming Tokyo’s Setagaya ward, "Hanon" bears little resemblance to the colourful parrot images. Originally shot in colour, the high-contrast monochrome prints transform the air above Tokyo into a two-dimensional abstraction in which flocks of cormorants occupy overhead power lines to form musical notes in the sky.
"My previous series, Tokyo Parrots (2013), has grown out of my interest in large flocks of wild parakeets which had become established and spread in Tokyo’s Setagaya ward. Ever since then, I have been fascinated by birds that persist and proliferate in urbanised environments. HANON is my second series inspired by explosive population growth of birds in cities. The number of cormorants in Japan has increased rapidly and this has been causing serious destruction to the environment in cities including Tokyo. With this work, I tried to highlight the issue of invasive birds in cities and to show images of urban landscape that is made surreal by their presence.
I happened to visit the Tama River and saw cormorants. Long before starting to work on this series, I had been quite interested in cormorant predation which had been frequently reported on television and in newspapers. So it was only natural for me to be completely intrigued by them. The spectacle of hundreds of birds lined up on overhead wires against the Tokyo sky seemed to me like a page from a book of Hanon exercises — as if the black birds themselves were music notes, making their music up above my head.
The sight of large flocks of cormorants in a city was incongruous and out of place. It appeared to be a kind of grim warning to modern society."
— from the artist’s statement