With “JP-34 Hiroshima,” Japanese photographer Taiji Matsue proves the potential inherent in a seemingly tame genre such as aerial photography. Having previously photographed the prefectures of Aomori, Akita and Sapporo from above, Matsue’s photographs of Hiroshima explore the structures of the city as well as its horrible past.
Shot from a helicopter, Matsue’s incredibly detailed images invite us to marvel at the city’s intricacies as well as the grander structure that defines it – and which only becomes into view from some distance. By including photographs taken of a city model in the Peace Memorial Museum (mimicking the helicopter’s perspective), Matsue leaves no doubt that the past – while barely visible in his photographs – still has its place in the city today.
“Closely viewing the photographs of cemeteries in cities, we see scattered points of fine reddish lights scattered around the gravestones. When we realize that they are lanterns lit one by one to mourn the departed, we touch the wounds of history from an unexpected distance.” (from “Surveying Position: Taiji Matsue’s Photographs to the Present” by Shino Kuraishi in “Taiji Matsue Handbook” (also available on shashasha))