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Yamamoto Masao is best known for his small hand-worked gelatin silver prints, which encourage the viewer to engage with photography as a tactile experience. The sensual surfaces of his photographs, which he distresses and delicately tones and colors, contrast with the ephemeral moments he explores in his imagery creating nuanced photographic objects. Yamamoto’s photographs are often compared to Japanese Haiku, short poems that derive their power from simple, direct images drawn from nature. Each image is part of a larger series of photographs such as A Box of Ku, Nakazora and Kawa=Flow. Assemblage is also very important to Yamamoto’s practice and he has created unique installations of his photographs for museum and gallery exhibitions.

Shizuka (Cleanse)

Living in the forest, I feel the presence of many “treasures” breathing quietly in nature.
I call this presence “Shizuka.”
“Shizuka” means cleansed, pure, clear, and untainted.
I walk around the forest and harvest my “Shizuka” treasures from soil. I try to catch the faint light radiated by these treasures with both my eyes and my camera.
In Tao Te Ching , an ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu wrote , “A great presence is hard to see. A great sound is hard to hear. A great figure has no form.”
What he means is that the world is full of noises that we humans are not capable of hearing. For example, we cannot hear the noises created by the movement of the universe. Although these sounds exist, we ignore them altogether and act as if only what we can hear exists. Lao-tzu teaches us to humbly accept that we only play a small part in the grand scheme of the universe.
I feel connected to his words. I have always sensed that there is something precious in nature. I have an impression that something very vague and large might exist beyond the small things I can feel. This is why I started collecting “Shizuka” treasures.
“Shizuka” transmits itself through the delicate movement of air, the smell of the earth, the faint noises of the environment, and rays of light. “Shizuka” sends messages to all five of my senses.
Capturing light is the essence of photography. I am convinced more than ever that photography was created when humans wished to capture light.
I hope you will enjoy “Shizuka”, the treasures of the forest, through my photographs.

Yamamoto Masao

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