The more time I spend in places like Tokyo – big cities, specifically – the more I get the impression that people fight harder and harder to maintain their own personal space; it’s almost as though there’s some strange inverse law that dictates the smaller the available physical space for each individual, the greater the social gulf between them. Cities seem to have become a collection of people who mostly happen to live together for reasons of convenience rather than community; this is visible in the lack of any sort of pride or loyalty in its inhabitants; it’s every man and woman for themselves. Perhaps the internet is partially to blame; we no longer have to actually know our neighbours and live with them; if we don’t like the people who immediately surround us, there are plenty of online communities full of others who are closer in interest – hell, this site is one of them.
I’m not saying it’s a bad or good thing; it’s a fundamental shift in society that comes with the opening of communication across great distances. What I do find interesting from a social observation point of view is that it has fundamentally changed the behaviour of the individual, to well, make them seem more individual. Distinctiveness is emphasized/ encouraged and taken to extremes, in some cases. Yet – there are clearly a lot of other individuals who think the same way, because in a large number of cases, these people tend to congregate somewhere they feel comfortable; where they blend in to their surroundings. For that to happen, the surroundings must have been created – by somebody else who also understood and felt comfortable with that idea. Paradoxical, no? From a photographic standpoint, this creates a lot of subjects. As many of you will remember from previous photoessays and discussions on this topic, I’m spending more time photographing the idea of man rather than an individual man; this results in a lot of unidentifiable silhouettes or motion blurs or the general deindividualization of the human. (I’m aware that it’s ironic for me to do this at all, because I’m effectively doing the same thing: separating myself as observer from the rest of the world.) This set is the opposite, but not quite: it is the idea of the isolated individual, but deliberately lacking that little something – call it a spark of captured personality, perhaps – that defines the individual. Tomorrow’s photoessay will be the opposite: swimming in packs. Or, you can simply not think about it too much and enjoy the images :) In any case, I would like to provide a little more context and thought behind the rationale and whys of my image-making. MT This set was shot with a Hasselblad 501CM, CF 2.8/80 and CF 4/150 lenses and the CFV-39 digital back.
Blending in, I
Blending in, II
A watched pot does in fact boil
Blending in, III
Blending in, IV
When your hobby becomes your job
Blending in, V
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