Key to Unseen Amsterdam's ethos is its commitment to talent development, with programmes set up specifically to support emerging talent in the world of contemporary photography. In our second interview with this year’s Talent Development award winners, we chat with Hideyuki Ishibashi (JP, 1986), who was awarded the Meijburg Art Commission.
Looking back on your recent work, what narratives guided it and how was the creation process?
My two years at Le Fresnoy, the national contemporary art studio in northern France, were a catalyst for the development of my large-scale installation work. Working in the studio alongside multidisciplinary artists and technicians from various fields, I asked myself three questions relating to the intersection of modern technology, photography and media, and began carrying out experiments to explore the possibilities of photographic expression today. As a process of production I took advantage of the environment at Le Fresnoy and incorporated different perspectives through my interactions with artists and experts from other fields. The final form came together as a result of the collaboration with the programmer, constructor, and others.
What does the Meijburg Art Commission win mean to you and how will you approach the Commission and the creation of the work?
The Meijburg Art Commission is my first commission and public project. I see it as both a challenge and opportunity, marking a turning point for a new method of personal expression.
In order to grasp the transfiguration of the light and reflection of the Meijburg & Co office building, I chose to record the sun movement and the reflection of the light by myself while actually moving around inside and outside of the building. From these records, I use the collage technique to reproduce the daily light movement in the office. Those images will be printed on 30 transparent acrylic plates with a cyanotype and modern orotone process. Images constructed from a gelatin side and an acrylic plate side have different reflective properties and sharpness depending on the site. Ultimately this artwork will resonate with the reflections in the building, reflecting the images of each day, each visitor, and each employee as they become part of the reflection in this art piece.
How does modern technology and the way in which it manipulates the way we view art influence your work and how will this continue to play a role in the Meijburg Art Commission?
The value that we previously found in the photograph shifted with the rise of technology and rewritten to conform to the digital world (vivid colour, digital noise, ultra-sensitive). With ever-evolving technology, the relationship between photo and photographer has become increasingly superficial; the camera and the subject no longer needed to get ‘real-looking photos’. The revival of the old photography technique in recent years might be a reflection of our desire to see signs of age. Perhaps as photographic realism reached a peak, we began to find value in the imperfections of the classical technique and seeing traces of the creator. It is a complex relationship between the creator and the printed image, one which cannot be expressed in digital print. Nowadays where old and new expressions exist simultaneously, it is possible to mutate images by mixing these technologies. An image created by mixing classical and new technologies is timeless, existing in a kind of grey area that is neither old nor new. What I find interesting is the intersection of these two tonalities. Therefore I repeat the experiment by using different media, materials and found images and objects in my production.
For this commission, I decided to approach the question of time and space by combining two classical techniques, Cyanotype and Orotone, after synthesizing the shots taken of the inside and the outside of the office building at several different times over three days. In the final work, the reflection of the acrylic, tin, protection glass, time and light, and the angle the viewer stands in relation to the image changes the way you see the artwork. The image is there, but there is no image as a complete form.
What have you got planned in the future?
I am doing an artist residency in Bourget, a city near Paris, focusing on the photographic project celestographs by the Swedish playwright August Strindberg. In both the residency and Meijburg Art Commission I am thinking about ways of approaching his ‘imagination’ by combining old and new technologies and using glass as a material. In addition, I would like to propose a new installation and a photobook that trigger the viewer's imagination.
You can read more about the Meijburg Art Commission here.
Image: Limen (revolving lantern, seen unseen, time, what does it mean to be taken in a photography?, my childhood), 2017 © Hideyuki Ishibashi/IBASHO