Japanese photographer-of-the-moment Daisuke Yokota takes book-making to a new level with performance element
One of the brightest photography talents to emerge from Japan in the last few years, Daisuke Yokota is steadily making a name for himself in contemporary photography circles.
The photographer, who was born in Saitama, Japan, in 1983, is becoming known for his innovative live photography book-making performances, which offer an insight into his working process – a “performative print-making style that has its roots in the 1970s Mono-ha arts movement”.
Yokota, who was featured in BJP as one of our Ones to Watch at the start of the year, takes his images with a compact digital camera, and then re-photographs the printed images using medium format film. He then prints them again, making use of leaked light, overheated developer, and singeing the negatives. The prints are sometimes re-photographed up to 10 times, adding more distortion each time.
Part of the reason for this approach is “to portray memory; what we remember, as well as what we don’t”, he told BJP in January. “I can visualise invisibleness, or things I don’t remember through those changes. And to visualise them, I have removed any details on a picture; for example, words on signboards or information to specify the location. All I remember about the picture is ‘I was there with someone once’. In that sense, the background became the subject, and showing the spatiality in the location was very important for me.”
For his latest book-making performance, Yokota will be in London on 2o May, taking part in an event with independent publisher Goliga, with whom he collaborated on a similar performance, Untitled, at Unseen Photo Fair in Amsterdam last year. In Untitled, Yokota splashed acid onto screenprints already treated with brass, turning this process into a live performance.
“Last year I had the opportunity to do a small project with Daisuke, and once I got to know his work and his working process, I invited him to make an edition of 10 images for the Goliga imprint,” says publisher Ivan Vartanian, who organised the London event and also worked with Yokota at Unseen. “That edition, Untitled, is an extension of Yokota’s general working process, in which he photographs and scans his own images. We wanted to maintain a direct experience of his process so we had Yokota apply acid to the photographs that are printed on a layer of brass. Each image, as a result, is unique, even though it is a reproduction. The event is an opportunity to show that process to the audience so they can see the artist at work.”
Vartanian and Yokota plan to extend the performance in London by adding a “zine-making aspect”, which involves photographing Untitled in the space, and using a laser printer to produce a zine.