This Japanese artist’s painstaking process is the perfect antidote to smartphone photo culture
The Japanese artist whose work is an antidote to smartphone culture
In our image-steeped modern world, where anyone with a smartphone to hand can shoot a picture in a matter of seconds, Japanese photographer Daisuke Yokota’s assiduous artistic approach to the medium couldn’t be more at odds with its everyday usage. Over the course of hours, days, weeks, Yokota creates unique photographic prints and photobooks through a painstaking process of photographing, printing and rephotographing, dipping into a whole palate of often unusual digital and analogue processes to startlingly original effect. There’s been a buzz building around Yokota’s work for a couple of years now. In 2015 he won the first John Kobal residency award for an emerging artist at Photo London. Last year, in addition to clocking up group shows and art fairs in New York, Hong Kong and Dubai, he scooped the prestigious Foam Paul Huf Award. His photobooks such as Linger and Vertigo have become collectors’ items. Yet despite these recent successes, Yokota remains modest. “It has been a wonderful year,” he says. “But I don’t see this as something I deserved: it is more like an encouragement to think about future work. I feel I will be judged [on what I] achieve afterwards.” Still, his future certainly looks promising. Tate London’s Curator of Photography and Paul Huf judge Simon Baker has described him as “one of the most innovative and experimental young photographers working in the world today,” and it’s not hard to see why.
Yokota begins by taking a digital shot on a compact camera. After printing the image out on an inkjet, he re-photographs it on a medium format camera using rare or discontinued types of film, which he sources online. Then he prints it again and re-photographs it again. And again – at least four or five times, up to 10 or more.
Installation view from the exhibition ‘Matter’, 2016