Last Updated:Jun 19, 2007

Hashi (Yasuomi Hashimura) “An Instant of Eternity” & “Primitive Landscapes of the Future”

The phrase “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all” came to mind when walking through the Yasuomi Hashimura exhibition at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Ebisu.

The two-part exhibition showcases works from two phases of Hashimura’s career. “An Instant of Eternity” focuses on his advertising photography in the 1990s, in which he pioneered the technique of capturing 1/100,000 of a second on film. The later “Primitive Landscapes of the Future” consists of his most recent project, which features his original “Hashigraphy” technique to give his photographs a painterly, washed-over effect.

The problem with art works which depend heavily on a particular technique or style is that everything ends up looking very similar. This is fine, if each individual piece is inherently interesting in itself. However, I quickly found myself bored with the very blue, very crisp, very 80s-looking commercial shots in the first half. The spotlights that honed in on the poster-like photographs pinned down on cork boards further accentuated the computer-screen effect– I felt as if I was looking at ready-made Photoshop pictures (which I’m sure are actually based on Hashimoto photographs. Perhaps I have been overexposed to cheap versions of his style, thus am unable to appreciate his once ‘pioneering’ photographs now).

Visually, the dark, smoky hues of the second half contrasted greatly to the first. Yet, the effect was the same. Here, he has applied Hashigraphy (the washed-over, battered effect) to photographs taken in the present, in order to make them look centuries old – his aim being “to explore how people in the year 3000 will view our world today”. Then why is he so insistent on taking photographs of familiarly ‘classical’ subjects such as Roman Coliseums and sculptures, Parisian streets, and unchanging European cityscapes? If he had applied the effect to bustling, neon-filled New York or Tokyo cityscapes, or glaringly modern people and objects for example – things that are overtly ‘contemporary’ – then his message would have been clearer, and his photographs more complex and exciting than merely good replicas of old photographs.

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Lena Oishi

Lena Oishi

Born in Japan in 1982, grew up in England and Australia. With a BA in Media and Communications and MA in Cinema Studies, she now lives in Tokyo as a freelance translator and occasional editor. Works include VICE Magazine, Japanese editorial supervision of "Metronome No. 11 - <i>What Is To Be Done? Tokyo</i> " (Seikosha, 2007), and translation for film and art festival catalogs. She can also interpret simultaneously if you give her enough candy. Lena likes making her eyeballs bleed after watching way too many films while eating ice cream in the dark.

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