Central to my photographic work is the exploration of culturalmemory. History repeatedly shows us how culture moves like an eternally flowing river. Although an element may seem to disappear, going unseen for generations, the energy contained in a cultural memory can find revival in future eras. Since antiquity, it has been the work of poets, musicians, artists and shamans sensitive to these cultural energies to revisit, to recite and to render them into stories, songs and images.
I am also exploring how memory is embedded in landscapes. Several years ago I had a conversation with the South African scientist and writer Lyall Watson about how the landscapes we all live in, and also the ones we journey through, are permeated with memories of the past. Memories of human activity, and memories of natural occurrences — remembrances that radiate from the rocks, trees and man-made structures. These memories, Watson and I agreed, actually can unwittingly influence our lives, connecting our present with the past and with the future. It is best that we be aware and work with them consciously.
I find a revival of old cultural energies in Japan today, a creative awakening among young people towards many traditional aspects of culture. The dynamic flow of this re-emergence is central to my portrait work. Nevertheless, in this contemporary era so much of cultural memory has gone underground, or seems to have been lost or destroyed. I am also seeking to address this cultural amnesia by digging deep into traditional Japanese cultural currents and retrieving emotive images from the subliminal darkness.
As a photographer, I have always been captivated by the challenge of recording on film the ambient mood of a place. To capture the non-visible on film may seem an impossible task, but through my encounter with the glass plate collodion photographic process I am, to my own aesthetic satisfaction, discovering techniques for achieving this. Adapting as well the techniques and materials of Japanese ceramic artists and classical painters, I have begun to successfully articulate wind, spirit, and memory in my imagery.