On the occasion of Tsutomu YAMAGATA's third solo exhibition "SURVEILLANCE", held from February 8 to March 2, at Zen Foto Gallery in Tokyo, Zen Foto Gallery's Mark Pearson has written an article outlining his views on Yamagata's work and his new photobook "SURVEILLANCE."

In “Surveillance”, just published by Zen Foto, he has invited young women to place a trail camera in their apartments. While they are alone at home the trail camera shoots them automatically, releasing its silent shutter and invisible infra-red flash in their dark or dimly lit rooms. The women know that they are being photographed, but not when, and the photographer is not present until he takes the camera from the women at a later date and downloads the images back at his studio.

At first sight, there are some questions that naturally arise. This seems like a surreptitious form of photographing young women at unguarded moments at home, often in various stages of undress and undertaking all sorts of private activity. Is it akin to drilling a hole in a wall to take candid photographs in a womens’ changing room or shower, or photographing up skirts from underneath a street grille?


According to Yamagata, on seeing the results, several women saw themselves anew and asked “is it really me?” The trail camera is low resolution and the resulting images smooth out the colours of the body, making them stylised (and beautiful) forms. The mechanism used for “are, bure, boke” aimed to prevent the literal representation of a scene. The blurred, out of focus, imperfectly exposed images somehow move us, probably because they thereby reveal something of reality that had been concealed or make us see things that would otherwise have been veiled. Yamagata has achieved something analogous; an image that has both removed us from reality while bringing us to a closer understanding of that reality.

the full article (link to Zen Foto Gallery blog)

More books from Tsutomu YAMAGATA: