This is a photo book of a series of images that try to capture and seize light. Originally shot under the name “Pulsar” between 2005 and 2006, it was retitled “photograph” when published at P.G.I.(Photo Gallery International, Tokyo) in 2013.
Based on the fundamental thought “I want to paint light on photographic paper”, I photographed the light in places and spaces of everyday life in a way that makes it visible and tangible to the human eye.
In the process of creating the exhibition at PGI, and subsequently the book, I noticed the differences between the world-view embedded in the work made roughly ten years ago and my present-day thoughts regarding it, and so decided to use the simple word “photograph”, rather than “Paint Light”, to title the series.
One day in 2005, I saw a girl in the park. It was almost evening, and she seemed mesmerized by a patch of sunlight resting on her palm. She asked me, “Where did this light come from, and how?” I mulled over the question; the light had been emitted by the sun, before traveling an astronomical distance to reach that very place, but I refrained from telling her so. She seemed to be looking for a different kind of answer.
The distance that sunlight travels is crucial for our planet to flourish, and nurtures an environment in which we can survive. Light allows us to see and be seen, in turn realizing the presence of one another. Yet in our daily lives, neither light nor shadow capture our attention; they are simply too ubiquitous.
I often find myself pondering the light that shines unnoticed, whether it be somewhere on this planet, or in outer space. Seeing light sometimes gives me a peace of mind; other times, it leaves me awestruck. It was these moments that led to a desire to capture, through photography, the light that exists in our everyday lives.
I created a machine that produced smoke via a hosepipe, hence rendering the rays of light visible. The images were shot using a long exposure and occasionally I would walk into the scene while the film was being exposed, in order to discover the light for myself. In the end, the length of exposure erased any traces of my presence, and all that remained was the light.
- Yuji Hamada