Daisuke Yokota interviewed by Olivier Pin-Fat
The relation between humans and their surrounding environments is not a separable entity.

Olivier Pin-Fat:
I’m interested in your concepts behind and use of image repetition in your work. Especially between the 2 series 'FOG' (colour) and 'BACKYARD' (black and white). Why do you do this, what does it mean for you and what are trying to express with it?

Daisuke Yokota: We recollect a single experience from the past again and again. But I don't think these recollected memories are always the same. Memories are always brought out in relation to a present condition, and through this repeatable recollection of memories I believe a memory becomes influenced by - and therefore - a product of what is happening to us now.
Although the physical experience of time is singular, I believe time at a conscious level can multiply every time one recollects a memory and the different experiences of times generated by these actions pass in parallel to a physical time.
By recreating those multiplying memories via a series of recollecting actions, I use them as important data that tell me about my contemporary self and its surrounding world.
My work Back Yard shows a big change in myself. Photographs used in the series Fog were taken around my home. I thought I could show this change through reshaping these same materials and by rewriting my current impressions over them - rather than taking new images of the same place.
This change is not a change in appearance, but a change that my impression imposes on surrounding worlds. This change also reflects a altered impression of the visual effect of the photograph itself.
It's interesting you talk of memory and the shifts, mutations and changes in how it is manifest in relation to what you call your 'contemporary self'. Would you, broadly speaking, describe your work as 'psychological' then?
This is not something I am aware of before I create my works, but I believe possibly my psychological state naturally comes out in my photographs as a result. I always have a vague fear or anxiety inside me, although that is not the way I’d describe my works themselves. I think ‘recollection of memories’ is the basic drive of my creations and this may be a result of this negative nature, or malaise within myself.
'INTERCEPTION' seems even more striking and extreme in its mode of expression than your other works, ('FOSSIL' for example). Suddenly we are far away from the medium of photography itself, and more in the realms of 3 dimensional graphic animation and non-photographic abstraction. Why?
Most of the things we see in daily life are easily recognizable. This is because people know what exists around them even before they conceive it to be a premise constructed from their experiences or memories. This implies a connection between the inner (memories) of oneself and the outside world. When people are in this state, what is important is to try to direct consciousness not so much to the outside - by looking or observing something - but more towards the internal by recollecting or making assumptions about something.
When I was creating Interception, I asked myself: what do I see in those photographs? Of course photographs themselves do not contain any particular interpretations, such as ‘this means that person and that place’. Such interpretations are a product of one’s consciousness, so there will be a connection between the viewers of the photograph and their memories.
These are the works that have developed from this thought: how do people see photographs when connections between information and their memories are cut off? (Imagine the outside world from a state of being whereby you’re unable to understand what you are looking at.)
I have created these series in the following order in 2009: Fog – Interception – Fossil. In Interception and Fossil, I used photographs that I had been taking when I was taking the photographs for Fog. Around this time, I was working on photographs in order to think about things such as visual effects an image can produce by transforming an element in that image and the structure of the image’s photography.
Yes, looking over the 'order' of your works chronologically, there seems to be a logic of its own at play here. Things become more abstract, more dislocated, isolated, and seemingly more lost in an urban alien-esque terrain as time progresses. Figures become just that, almost faceless abstractions lost amidst buildings, landscapes and city-scapes. A kind of visual autism. Do you think 'man's' dislocation to his environment, his surroundings (and himself) is an important theme to your work?
Realistically, the relation between humans and their surrounding environments is not a separable entity. Once things are photographed, they can become dislocated and isolated from this mutual relationship. In the creative process of my works, what is most important is that the photographed object is not only completely dislocated from the surrounding environment but importantly, from myself as well at the exact moment I took the photograph so it once again becomes an object of my interest.
This attempt to dislocate an object from me, or to include elements of uncontrollable errors in a process of my creation usually brings out clues for the next idea or project.

I'm drawn by the damaged, ruptured, almost sculptural qualities, not to mention the content of the imagery itself in your series 'FOSSIL'. Could you explain a little about this series, as it's also very different to your other works?
The original images are taken from the works of Interception. I think you can tell this if you look at the actual works themselves. Here we have images in which I deleted details from the Interception photographs and left only outlines. At first sight, they seem as if they've lost a photographic function and appear again like graphic images or animations.
So, I had the intention to bring them back to photographic products or materials. In order to do that, I decided to transform a sequence of information originally contained in the photographs into a form of ‘noise’ (scars in the images). In terms of the fact that they are information on a piece of paper, they can be understood as the same thing. It is just a matter of whether one understands it or refuses to do so.  At the same time, I thought I could reassert photographic elements by leaving a scar on printed papers and then reprinting it as an image in its own right. This embraces the time I existed in ‘real space’, so for me, it was an act undertaken in order to consider the structure and fabric of photography itself.

Are you working on a new series that pushes all of this into even more extreme realms than you already have done that you would like to briefly talk about?
I am currently making a new series but I am not sure how it will go.
One of the interests I have now is to see an alteration of materials at the stage of developing
film and photographs. The temperature of developing solution I use has been getting warmer and warmer and now I am actually working with a boiling solution. This may cause an extreme appearance in my next works.
How much would you say post-war Japanese photography has influenced your work? Especially the 'Provoke' and ‘VIVO’ generation of photographers (Moriyama, Tomatsu, Kawada, etc etc)? Are there any other influences on your work that aren't necessarily 'photographic'? Cinema for example? Literature?
Yes, I am aware that I am influenced by the post-war Japanese photographers’ movements such as Provoke and VIVO as you said. Daido Moriyama is one of the photographers who I am especially influenced by. He said in the 1970s that ‘All objects I see outside have equal realities to me.’ I believe photographers in my generation who grew up seeing his repetitive and changing works and listening to his words have learned optical experiences, which I would say is something more than just an ‘influence’.
I was and am also influenced by other media. For example, David Lynch’s ‘Inland Empire’ made me think about senses of perception and time. I also think I was greatly influenced by the music I was listening to when I was around 20, such as Aphex Twin, CLOUDDEAD, and Tony Conrad.
How important is the book medium to you and how do you translate all of these aesthetic complexities into an actual 'object'?
Well, it allows creators to engage with viewers in their private spaces while creators are still playing with their own rules. Unlike computer screens, it is the place where people see things as objects in a ‘real’ space. I think it’s really an important part of the process for people who see works to have sensory and physical experiences of them, such as smelling the ink, feeling the texture of paper, and flipping pages etc.
As for translating complex ideas into an object, I think an appeal the photography has is different to what a three dimensional work has. Since photography is a two dimensional representation, how they appear is less likely to affect a viewer’s standing position and perception unlike three-dimensional works. Instead, they are largely affected by the viewers’ own individual memories. In this way, I believe photography is a medium that really belongs to the past/history.
So with paper, which is a medium that conveys an image, a central element is to provide an impression to influence the viewers’ present perceptions. Choosing a type of paper to use is extremely important I think, and I try to choose the best combination of papers and images using my intuition and creativity.
When you exhibit, do you design your installations using a similar 'dream-logic' as you do with your website for example – where there seems to be, as mentioned, a definite 'progression' towards abstraction, inter-play with repetition and the mutations of memory and 'self' over time?
The way I currently exhibit my works is very simple and shows only one series at a time. There is a possibility that I will exhibit my works in the same way on my website in the future, but I still think the number of works I produce is just not large enough to do so. I have an idea now to create a web of images by repeating and metamorphosing many of my images.
I believe a photograph does not exist on its own, but can connect with other photographs recalled by the photograph you are looking at now. (I am not only talking about the connections within series of images exhibited in an exhibition or in a book.) You might find an image which may connect to a photograph you saw at another exhibition or possibly a website or a photo-book. I believe in giving a chance for the viewers to imagine various connections by themselves, in order to effectively show more of the changes of memories inside them. Therefore, I think designing special ways to show exhibitions is the only effective way to show my works.
Finally, with 'AM projects' – it seems all of us are working in radically different ways, using different photographic mediums and techniques to explore what's necessary for us to explore. Do you have a vision, or ideas, as to how all of our different works can come together effectively and cohesively?
We talked about this before, but I believe we need words and text from someone outside, such as excellent critics, in order to give more comprehensible meanings to our works and projects for the public. I also believe our collaborating sometimes with other artists who aren’t AM members for certain projects could expand our possibilities.

(Olivier Pin-Fat and Daisuke Yokota are both members of ‘AM projects’ (www.amprojects.org) the new photography collective that will launch in Amsterdam at the ‘Unseen’ photo fair in September. They are also both featured in MONO - a seminal book by GOMMA Books Ltd celebrating the very best in contemporary black and white photography - to be published this autumn. Translation by Etsuko Shimoya. June 2012)


Daisuke Yokota - Personal website

Olivier Pin-Fat - Personal website

AM Projects
AM Projects - website

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