Interview: Chris Engman, Freedom, possibility and a desire for purity

Chris Engman, The Meeting, 2004. Chris Engman's series Landscapes is based on the vast open spaces of Washington State outside of Seattle, where Engman lives. The title of the series, just like the images themselves, suggests one thing, while revealing many others. He has a show on at the Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle until Christmas Eve 2010. This interview with Engman was done for the Talent Issue (#24) of Foam magazine which came out in September 2010.

Marc Feustel: What attracted you to the landscapes of eastern Washington that you use for your photographs?

Chris Engman: When I set out to make a photograph I begin with an idea. I write about it, turn it over in my mind, and gradually the requirements for a site take shape. I then go out and drive, sometimes for a long time, until I find that site. The idea is not a response to the landscape; in my work the land­scape is a response to the idea. Once I’ve found and used a site I become attached to it, and there are some that I frequently revisit. They go from being spaces where I am free to let my imagination wander to being places with a personal history and familiarity. I have dreams about buy­ing up all that land and doing nothing with it so that it will be left alone.

MF: You refer to these landscapes as resembling ‘an unformed dream or empty canvas waiting to be acted upon.’ What made you want to intervene in these landscapes?

CE: They fulfilled the requirements for the illustration of my ideas. When I refer to these spaces as an empty canvas I mean that they are relatively free from distracting associations, so that the work can just be the work. Undeveloped land, ocean views, deserts, the associations they have are ones that are appropriate to the work: freedom, possibility and a desire for purity.

MFThe Japanese photographer Naoya Hatakeyama has suggested that ‘nature is already so distant from us that you might say it has become a fantasy’. Is this an idea that resonates with you?

CE: I don’t personally feel more distant from nature than I want to be. My work affords me a lot of opportunities to be in nature and for adventure and misadventure. Being and working in extreme places connects me to nature by confirming the power it has over me. I don’t really imagine that there is such a strict division between man and nature. We are a part of nature, when we harm it we harm ourselves.

Chris Engman, Equivalence, 2009.

MFCan you describe how you go about constructing your images? The process seems quite elaborate.

CE: Every image presents unique challenges. In the case of Equivalence, to begin with I found a suitable piece of private land and got permission to use it. I built a frame and photographed it. Back in Seattle I made fifteen large prints altogether measuring 4.5 meters wide and over 3.5 meters high. The prints had to be skewed digitally to account for the fact that the frame was not parallel to the film plane. I returned to eastern Washington and placed the prints back onto the same frame. In the final photograph you wouldn’t know by looking at it that the prints were ever skewed be­ cause the camera, replaced to its original location, skews them again back into ‘correct’ perspective. The piece is titled after the series of clouds by Alfred Stieglitz, in which he suggests that his images of clouds can represent inner states and emotions. My version asserts that photographs are not objective and can only ever tell partial truths, and beauty and emotion are constructs of the mind. For me this doesn’t lessen photography, beauty or emotion but makes them all the more interesting.

MFManipulation in photography is not new, but digital technology has extended the range of possibilities and the line between straight and manipulated photographs is increasingly blurry. Do you think people’s perceptions of what a photograph is are changing as a result?

CE: One question I get a lot is are they manipulated? The answer is supposed to be no, they are ‘real.’ This is a false dichotomy. All forms of representation are manipulation. But the question gets asked, and at the root of it is a desire for authenticity. What needs to be better understood is that sometimes even heavily manipulated images are truthful and sometimes straight photographs tell lies, so there should be a different set of criteria for authenticity. My own photographs are in many ways closer to what is meant by straight than not. That is, the majority of the digital manipulation that I do could have, at least theoretically, been done in a darkroom. However, I have no qualms about crossing that line when necessary. In The Haul, for example, street signs and text on the buildings have been removed so that the place would have a more generic quality. One thing I will not do is pretend I did something that I did not do. Many photographers are finding ways to make their work be less work, while I have gone in the opposite direction. My photographs are laboured, and they don’t take short cuts. In that sense I am like a sculptor or installation artist who uses photography as a tool.

Chris Engman, The Haul, 2006.

MFI am curious to know about your influences and in particular your relationship to landscape photography. Your work occupies quite a unique space and it seems to integrate many different photographic and artistic traditions.

CE: I think a lot about Robert Smithson’s work relating to time and place. The Earthworks artists often have more in common with my process and practice than do landscape photographers. I enjoy the work of Michael Heizer and Walter De Maria, Georges Rousse and Robert Irwin. The re-photographic work of Mark Klett has been an influence recently. Fiction by writers such as Milan Kundera, Salman Rushdie, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Faulkner and Hemingway often directly spurs ideas for particular photographs. Also the writings of the neurologist Oliver Sacks are an influence.

MFAs opposed to many contemporary landscape photographers your photographs don’t seem to have a direct message about the relationship between man and nature. Do you consider that there is a political aspect to your work?

CE: I am a political person but my work is not directly political. A lot of contemporary landscape photography is concerned with human exploitation of the landscape, usually with a pessimistic or nostalgic undertone. Although I am of course concerned about exploitation, the subject of my work concerns abstract ideas relating to perception and the human condition. On the other hand a few of my works do contain some subtle social criticism. One way to read The Haul, for example, is as a questioning of consumerism and the ideas about success that drive us to always want more and do more and never be content. The piece expresses a desire to travel through life with a lighter load.

MFWhat are you working on at the moment?

CE: The piece I’m working on is a diptych called Dust to Dust. My plan is to find or make a large pile of sand or dirt and photograph it. For the second part of the diptych I will employ land-moving equipment to rotate the pile ninety degrees clockwise. The mountain of dirt will be reformed in its original shape, the shadows will be repeated with careful timing and camera placement. In this way the pile of dirt will appear to remain stationary while the landscape itself will appear to have moved. The piece is a meditation on impermanence and the fact that not only existence but even the features of the physical world are temporal and will come to an end.

Chris Engman, The Disappearance, 2006.

Interview: Joan Fontcuberta, Landscapes without memory

 Joan Fontcuberta, Orogenesis Pollock, 2002. I first came across Joan Fontcuberta's Orogenesis series when I picked up a copy of the Landscapes without memory book in Arles last year. The series is deceptive; these aren't photographs but computer-generated images created by software renderers that are designed to produce 3D images based on cartographical data. Fontcuberta decided to explore the possibilities of the technology by feeding it misinformation: instead of giving it a map to read, he fed it the visual data contained in famous paintings or pictures of different parts of his anatomy. The results are these "landscapes without memory."

The thing I like the most about Fontcuberta is his ability to explore philosophical questions on the nature and contemporary practice of photography while remaining engaging and frequently hilarious. I did this interview with him for the Landscapes without memory exhibition which has just opened at Foam in Amsterdam (until 27 February 2011).

Marc Feustel: How did you first encounter photography and what was it that attracted you to the medium in particular?

Joan Fontcuberta: It was in high school. Our art history teacher was a photo amateur and set up a darkroom for his pupils. The magic of photo processing immediately fascinated me. My father ran an advertising agency and I was also very curious about the world of models, photographers, filmmakers and so on. During the holidays I spent time watching and learning at the agency. Later on I joined the creative department of the agency and worked there for three years. At the same time I was studying at university: sociology, communications, semiotics… With that background what used to be an exciting passion became a more serious thing: a way to understand my physical and cultural environment.

MF: You have said that photography should not only be taught in fine art schools from an aesthetic perspective but in the context of philosophy as a tool for critical thought. In your view, is this critical thought something that is lacking in contemporary photography?

JF: I have noticed a perverse phenomenon in contemporary art: artists abdicate their discourse to critics and curators. Their work then just becomes an illustration of someone else’s discourse. Maybe that is the price they have to pay to achieve some form of recognition in the art scene or market. Luckily there are exceptions. Presently I am very curious about ‘found’ and ‘trash’ photography and could mention the names of Joachim Schmid, Penelope Umbrico and Erik Kessels. There are many other intelligent, radical voices in other approaches as well… I am optimistic. Regarding critical thought, Marcel Proust said: “Le véritable voyage de découverte ne consiste pas à chercher de nouveaux paysages, mais à avoir de nouveaux yeux.” (“The true voyage of discovery does not consist of searching for new landscapes, but of having a new pair of eyes.”

Joan Fontcuberta, Orogenesis Derain, 2004.

MF: The images in Landscapes without memory are created by using three-dimensional imaging software designed to render landscapes based on maps. Can you explain a little about the process for making these images and how you discovered the software that you used to make them?

JF: I used several 3D renderers (if you search Google you will find dozens of them). I discovered them in the Banff Center for the Arts, in Canada, in 1994, where I was invited to lead an art residency on the concept of “The Transient Image”: an international gathering of visual artists exploring the mutations of technological image making. There I learned about virtual reality technologies and became fascinated by the possibilities they offer to build illusionary spaces. It was an ironic paradox that a center located in a national park in the Rocky Mountains, surrounded by such magnificent virginal nature, went to that much effort creating virtual models of invented nature. In any case, all this software functions on the same principle: cartographic data is translated into a 3D relief. However, I deceived the computer and instead of inputting a map, I input a masterpiece of landscape painting or photography. The software is constrained to output a landscape, whatever the input. It must produce an image within a vocabulary of limited terms: mountains, volcanos, valleys, rivers, oceans… And this is the point: a landscape is recycled into another landscape. This subversion unveils another gesture: we make computers to produce hallucinations, we push technology to let its own unconscious emerge.

MF: Since the New Topographics, landscape photography has occupied a growing space in the world of fine art photography. But contemporary landscape photography seldom depicts the beauty of 'natural' landscapes, like the work of Ansel Adams for example. Is there still a place for photography that celebrates the beauty of the natural landscape?

JF: This is a debate about beauty within aesthetic categories. Of course there is a place to celebrate the beauty of the natural landscape—as currently happens in postcards and calendar plates. The question is which kind of beauty are we interested in? Should art just provide visual pleasure or should it rub our eyes with sandpaper to disturb our conscious and provoke a reaction? The philosopher Eugenio Trías believes that the sublime substituted beauty, and that the sinister has then substituted the sublime. This notion of sinister derives from Freud’s “Umheimlich” and refers to a sense of distortion and oddity. I wonder if we are now experiencing a mutation towards a new, hybrid category. I have in mind a sentence by Picasso: “The ugly may be good; the beautiful will never be”. He meant that something considered beautiful conforms to a standard taste, whereas something considered as ugly may confront our present sensibility and bring out a new one.

Joan Fontcuberta, Orogenesis Turner, 2003.

MF: Contemporary landscape photography often focuses on the tension between man and nature. However what we are seeing in this series appears to be ‘pure’ nature, with no trace of man whatsoever, and yet these images are entirely artificial, a man-made fantasization of nature. How did you develop the approach to this series?

JF: Many of my projects deal with landscape, or how landscape should be understood today. For instance, in Securitas I borrow keys from people and project them onto photographic paper. The result is a horizontal line simulating a mountain ridge. It is a minimalist idea which epitomizes the essence of landscape as related to safety and property. Thus landscape can be defined by ideological and political approaches, rather than aesthetic ones based on a resemblance to nature.

Now let’s go back to the roots of landscape as an autonomous genre. Until the seventeenth century, natural space was just a subordinate background for portraits or historical scenes. The birth of landscape inverted the established visual order of things, giving priority to that which had been traditionally considered merely as escenography. Landscape painting has only been recognized quite recently, when artists achieved the right to contemplate nature without the justification of human anecdotes. To contemplate nature without, let’s say, being seen. In my Orogenesis landscapes nobody looks at us, they are brand new and consequently exempt of human experience. On the other hand, they constitute a sort of postmodern statement: they illustrate that the representation of nature no longer depends on the direct experience of reality, but on the interpretation of previous images, on representations that already exist. Reality does not precede our experience, but instead it results from intellectual construction.

An additional concern in Orogenesis is artificiality and more precisely artificial nature. Let’s ask ourselves the question: could a natural nature exist? The answer is no, or at least, not anymore: man’s presence makes nature artificial. Until the sixth day, Creation was natural, but at the seventh it turned into an artifice.

MF: With the proliferation of digital technology, more still photographs are being made than ever before, despite advances in other media like video. Do you think that people would still be as attached to photography if it were no longer perceived as a document of reality?

JF: Yes, certainly. Photography is dissolving into the magma of images. It is losing its historical specificity, but is beginning to fulfil other functions. I just published a book titled Through the Looking Glass about cell phone photos and their circulation through the Internet and online social networks. Teenagers are not interested in photographs as documents but as trophies. When Martians finally invade the Earth, green lizard-shaped aliens will emerge from their spacecrafts. They will fire at us with laser guns but we won’t hide nor protect ourselves. We’ll take our cell phones and we’ll photograph them to prove that we saw them, to prove that we were there when they arrived.

Joan Fontcuberta, Orogenesis Weston, 2004.

MF: Interestingly all the images in Orogenesis depict incredibly dramatic, over-the-top landscapes. Is the software capable of depicting an unremarkable landscape, like an empty field or a barren wasteland?

JF: Sure. However if you keep the default settings the software is endowed with an unconscious model oriented towards spectacular landscapes, something that should make us reflect on its inherent ideology. There is a glorification of the mountains as symbols of spiritual achievement and purification. I exaggerate that feeling because the resulting wild and imposing landscapes must be read as a parody. Somehow that excessive sense of drama leads to a sense of kitsch, or is reminiscent of the ahistorical landscapes of computer games through which players travel in search of predetermined adventures.

MF: Can you explain a little about the significance of the title ‘Landscapes without memory’ and the absence of memory in these landscapes?

JF: There has been a common strategy in contemporary art focusing on landscape as depictions of territories where a tragic event occurred in the past. The place is presented metonymically as a remnant of the event itself, it wouldn’t interest us without the history behind it. So usually landscapes exist because they hold those layers of memory. However, Orogenesis displays landscapes beyond the influence of time, frozen in an uncertain geological age, without any trace of culture or civilization. There is no echo in them, no voices or shouting that have vanished into the continuity of life and oblivion. There is nothing to commemorate there, nothing to remember. A kind of ‘degree zero’ terrain. Thus, they are landscapes without memory—well, with the exception of the memory of art.

MF: Humour is less obviously present in this series, but in general it appears to be an important aspect of your work. What role does it play in your photographic practice?

JF: Let’s go back to classics: “Castigat ridendo mores” (“One corrects customs by laughing at them”): that was the Latin motto for comedy. I belong to a Mediterranean hedonist sensibility—which might be the contrary of a Calvinist one. There is an illustrative folk saying: “Good girls go to Heaven; bad girls go to everywhere”. Humour is not only an ingredient to enjoy life, on the same level as good weather, wine, sex and fiesta as the cliché goes. A great deal of contemporary art is too solemn and boring. In my work humour is like a filter trying to put forward serious proposals but in an appealing and exciting manner. Laughter is a revolutionary impulse, the great antidote to the poisons of the spirit. As Nietzsche said: “We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh”.

Apologies and explanations

Once again, dear readers, I have to apologise for my blogging silence. But this time I have a pretty foolproof excuse (see image above).

In fairness I can't blame my recent wedding entirely for the lack of posting as there is another happy event that has kept me busy for the other half of the summer: FOAM magazine's annual Talent issue. I was asked to do all the Q&As with the fifteen contributing photographers, which was an excellent experience as there are never enough opportunities to sit down with photographers and ask them a bunch of questions about their work and a lot of the work featured in this issue I would most likely never have discovered otherwise. With photo-blogs I find that we too often just gravitate towards things that we take an instant liking to and too often end up overlooking interesting work that doesn't immediately resonate with us, so being presented with a really broad cross-section of work from all different fields and styles and trying to engage with all of it is an experience that I highly recommend. As a bonus, I'm not the only blogger to feature in the issue, as I understand that Mrs Deane has also contributed a text... two virtual salmon swimming upstream into the world of the printed page. The magazine is going to be released this week so keep an eye out for it at your local photobook store. And more to the point, keep an eye out here as eyecurious gets cranked back into action.

Interview: Eikoh Hosoe's Butterfly Dream

The exhibition, Eikoh Hosoe: Theatre of Memory has just closed at the Japanese Cultural Institute in Cologne. I did an interview with Hosoe during the opening weekend and a video extract has been posted on

Update: Just a few minutes after posting this, I found out that Kazuo Ohno has just passed away at the age of 103. The New York Times has an obituary here.

Interview: Hiroh Kikai, A man in the cosmos

Hiroh Kikai, An older man with a penetrating gaze, 2001

I first met Hiroh Kikai in 2007 after discovering his portraits taken over several decades in Askausa, Tokyo, in his stunning book Persona. A collection of these photographs entitled Asakusa Portraits has since been published by Steidl. On a trip to Japan in May 2008, I managed to sit down with Kikai for an interview in Shibuya, Tokyo. The interview was conducted in Japanese and the following extract from the interview is a translation.

Marc Feustel: You have had an atypical experience as a photographer. For many years you had to juggle photography with earning a living. Do you think this had a significant impact on your approach to photography and the subjects that you chose to photograph?

Hiroh Kikai: Well, in the beginning I did not intend to pursue a creative career, let alone a career in photography. For me photography was simply a more attractive hobby than literature or painting. But as it turned out, I had some talent, and after having photographed for some time, I began to really enjoy myself. Photography was not only enjoyable, but it was also absolutely modern. Everyone could participate, it was magical! And it has to be said that this new form of expression fascinated people: photographers had a halo of prestige and conveyed an image of strength.

In addition to being at the cutting edge of technology, photography was the most expressive medium of communication: everyone wanted to become a photographer. I began to photograph not because I thought I could make a living from it, but because I was irresistibly drawn to the medium. Also I did not see myself working for a photographic publication. You have to remember that at the time editors paid their staff a pittance while expecting a colossal amount of work from them. On little more than 300,000 Yen for a monthly salary, you could not expect to go very far. I decided to follow my own path, and kept away from these circles. You know what they say: little by little, a bird builds its own nest. I was determined to not waste my talent and for me, joining one of these photography publications would have been the best way to waste my time and energy: I prefer to be free to do as I choose. So I started off by taking several manual labour jobs: truck driver, dock worker… and I was able to survive on half of my salary.

I was aware of the fact that I lacked photographic experience. I was still immersed in my philosophy studies at the time, and I began to think about the following concept: the essential thing was not the camera but the act of looking. You had to look again and again until you could feel the essence of everything that was around you. The concept was good, but I needed some way of putting it into practice. At first I thought about taking a job on a tuna fishing boat. The sea seemed like it would be photogenic. This was the 1970s, conceptual art was the trend, and even if there was no specific subject, any old picture could suddenly be held up as a work of genius. I quickly understood that this was a bit lightweight as an artistic approach. But beyond any of this, it seemed important to me to have a change of scenery and to see new things if I wanted to evolve. I decided to take the tuna fishing job and I got on board.

MF: Your biography states that you “had a happy childhood, from the age of 11 or so preferring to play alone in the nature that surrounded the village”. When I look at your career it seems that you have continued along this path as a photographer.

HK: It is true that I am a bit of a loose cannon amongst contemporary photographers and I have always preferred working alone. People may think this is driven by nostalgia or by misanthropy: in our society people that choose to work in this way are often the victims of prejudice. It is therefore a difficult way of life, but I think it can be a hugely valuable one. I feel that today we devote more and more time and energy to superficial things. I am referring to the way that people live, particularly in contemporary Japan: saturated with information, with an ever-growing list of things that we need and do not have. All of this acts like a screen, blocking out the true nature of things from our atrophied gaze. In what sense are we still living fully? I wonder, amidst this profound confusion, how we can know what is real and what is fake? What is it that will make us judge someone as superior?

I don’t think it is nostalgia, but it is true that I have felt, and continue to feel, that there is something lacking, a metaphysical void in our society and what it should be aiming for. When I took photographs in India, I did not want to convey some eternal vision of “Mother India”, but simply the way of life of some people that I met over there; for me these photographs radiate intensity because they show a way of life devoid of all artifice, a way of life concerned with the fundamental things. I felt the same thing in Turkey.

A tattoo artist and his son, 2003

MF: You have said that “Writing is a task that [you]’ve never enjoyed”. This surprised me as your captions seem to be very important components of your Asakusa portraits.

Philosophy begins with the art of using words and language. At least, this is what my professor taught me, so therefore I am familiar with the act of writing, or at least of articulating ideas in an intelligible fashion. However the idea of writing has always more or less paralysed me. With this kind of complex, I would never have expected to be able to come out with anything at all, but against all odds, I wrote the texts for my books India and Gassan. I suppose that being immersed in the world of my childhood must have inspired me.

To answer your question, these captions and these photographs are exactly the same thing. At least, they come from the same approach. For me they are intrinsically linked and both create an intense expressiveness. Photography and writing are part of the same battle for me: both involve making something intelligible which is not necessarily so. Both of them formalise an obvious fact that is not always visible, acing like a magnifying glass or, if you prefer a musical metaphor, transposing the ordinary from a minor to a major key. In the case of this process of transformation and formalisation, even that which we considered as trivial or unimportant becomes vital and likely to encourage reflection. When one constantly questions reality, and that is what a photographer does, one becomes aware that everything is linked: immobility and movement, positive and negative, the important and the futile… these apparently opposite notions in fact complete each other, in a process that is brought out by the act of capturing an image. Writing is based on the same principle, as are all forms of expression that in a general sense attempt to capture reality and to transcend its chaos. One then becomes aware of the link that exists between objects and concepts that everything seems to oppose but which in fact only exist because their opposite does. My approach as a photographer is based on these considerations; if there is something that I have learned from all of those years as a student of philosophy, it is this.

MF: You have spoken about the role of time in your photographs. For me all of your photographs have a very peculiar sense of time, even those that bear the hallmarks of modern society such as your Tokyo Labyrinth series: it is hard to say whether we are looking at the past, the present, the future or some mixture of the three.

HK: Of course I aim for the formal aspect of my work to capture reality as closely as possible, which means that I aspire to a resolutely modern—but all-encompassing—form, in the sense that it takes account of both the past and the present. I do not think particularly of capturing the “present moment” or the “essence of the Japanese soul” when I take my photographs. What outweighs all of these considerations is the act of photographing the human. Indeed, when I am shooting in Asakusa, I don't think about any of this at all. If Asakusa was suddenly swept away, I would just be a man in the cosmos photographing other men in the cosmos… in truth I attach very little importance to topography. Once again I prefer to adopt an all-encompassing vision: the place where I am located is simply an extension of my own roof and I am here for one thing only: to create. Of course, if we limit ourselves to a strictly formal point of view, New York for example is an ideal backdrop for street photography, but form cannot replace substance. If I do not have a person that emanates some kind of life force or experience in front of my lens, the alchemy will not work and in the end all that will remain is a slick image with no soul. Topographic considerations are for architectural photography. Finally, as for the choice of Asakusa, once again, it is not the place that matters (in fact I started shooting there because it was not far from my home), it is the people. It is not the fact that these people are Japanese but the fact that their face and their body tells a story, whether they are Japanese, French, English or martian… the most important thing is that when I arrive I can say to myself “Ah, there are lots of people today, I should be able to find something good.”

Tokyo Labyrinth

MF: There is undeniably a very universal quality to your work. What does the idea of being a “Japanese photographer” mean to you? Do you consider yourself as a Japanese photographer with the cultural heritage that that entails or do you consider yourself simply as a photographer?

HK: To be completely honest with you, I must admit that I never look at the work of other photographers. I am always concerned that I will be destabilised by the fact that some of them are much better than I am. If a photographer cannot look at this work objectively, then he is not a true photographer. A photographer must constantly put himself into perspective because photography is not an innate language. It is not because I spend 24 hours running through the streets looking for photogenic models to pose for my camera that I will get good results.

I remember a time when Andrzej Wajda came to my studio to see some of my photographs. He asked me: “Are these people all Japanese?”, and then would say “they almost look like Westerners here!”. But for me, they were first and foremost human beings. And if he saw a resemblance between Japanese and Polish people, and more generally Europeans, it is because today, beyond our respective grievances, stories and wounds, globalisation—and the homogenisation of our societies that it leads to—means that we all fundamentally have the same conditions of existence. For this reason, when I shoot a portrait it is of no interest to me to say that this person is in a certain location. Perhaps my approach is wrong. Perhaps some people need this kind of information to appreciate a photograph and to be able to relate to this stranger suspended on this glossy paper. What can I say to this? Nothing really. Particularly given that it is this process of relating that makes a good photograph. On one hand we have the image, on the other the viewer. If the viewer relates to the image, feels integrated into what he is looking at, then a dialogue is established between the 2 parties and, in some way, the photographer is also taking part in this silent conversation. This is the case for the photographs that I took in India as well as my portraits taken in Asakusa. For a split second, the photographer recedes into the background and becomes a pure silhouette, in perfect osmosis with his subject. The gaze of the viewer comes afterwards, and determines decisively the beauty and the success of a photograph. If there is interaction then the image works. It is alive. You can observe the same thing in theatre. I should add that this notion of “seeing” is far less obvious than it seems. Looking is within everyone’s grasp. Seeing is difficult. There is a difference between being passively stuffed with images, as is the case today, and being active in the process of apprehending an image. We look with our eyes, our heart and our reason. Seeing, truly seeing, is all of these things.

Kitashinagawa, Shinagawa, Tokyo, 1986