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Isolation – The Japan Photographs

Hamish Campbell
This event has concluded
Dates:
Hours:
Entry Fee: Free
Exhibition Event:
Official Opening 04/05/2014 3:00 pm
Artist Talk 04/05/2014 5:00 am

Japan has many unusual legacies post war and post-industrial – these often isolated, un-inhabitable or just abandoned places are the subject of Hamish Campbell’s solo exhibition of ultra-high resolution stitched images at Artsite Gallery in May 2014.

Exhibition to be opened Sunday 4th May 3:00 pm, by Dr Mathew Stravos, Senior Lecturer in Japanese Studies at The University of Sydney.

Matthew Stavros is an historian of early Japan, specializing in urban and architectural history during the medieval period and author of Kyoto: An Urban History of Japan’s Premodern Capital published by University of Hawai‘i Press.

Hamish Campbell speaking about his large stitched landscapes and working in Japan:

“I frequently hear that cameras “don’t do the place justice”. A place is not a space. It’s very easy to take a photo of a place. Capturing a space means capturing not simply what it looked like, but possibly what it sounded, smelt, and most importantly, felt like. 

When I first enter a new and interesting space that I want to photograph, the first step is to explore it fully. It’s important not to touch the camera for a while, or you start thinking about the technicals (sic) of just pressing that button, and capturing the place. 

You cannot capture a space unless you carefully observe the elements that make it more than a place… 

The elements which give you a sense of space are not necessarily contemporaneous. They are additive, like light. If you sit on a bench at a beach and observe a seagull fly by, then a ship pass in the distance, then a child falling over, all these elements combine to create a memory of the space in your mind, even if the individual events did not occur simultaneously… 

What I aim to show in my photos is the true atmosphere of the space, the total sum of the parts of my memory, not an exact or specific fraction of a second. I want to show the whole timeline, not a slice of it. 

By taking 50-100 images of the scene over the course of several hours, I am able to hone in on the important details as they happen. I then put all the pieces back together into a whole whose details build on one another to create a total memory of the space, bypassing the disconnect caused by the camera’s temporal limitations, and allowing me to “do justice” to my memory of the space…”

Why I’m in Japan…?

“I moved to Japan because I played too much Nintendo as a child…

I quickly realised in university that Japan was not the fantasy land my high school obsession with the culture had hyped it up to be. Fortunately, it was something far less superficial than that, and my interest in the culture gained much deeper roots.

Now, I live in Japan because it inspires me photographically. When I say this, I don’t simply mean that it has a variety of amazing subject matter to photograph (which it does), but I mean that living in this country instills me with a feeling that I draw inspiration from. 

When I am home in Australia I am surrounded by friends and family, and I blend into the crowd on the street. I am the same as everyone else. I do the same things as everyone else. This is comforting in its own way, but at the same time, is quite exhausting for an introvert. There is very little space in my mind or energy left to me at the end of a day to observe and reflect on how I relate to the people and the environment around me. 

In Japan, I feel like I exist in a separate, isolated stream to the general public. I am clearly different in many ways to the average Japanese citizen. It makes me feel somewhat alone, but I don’t always think that’s a bad thing. I am calmed by the feeling of being outside the general bustle that occurs on city streets. I have no yearning for being completely “accepted” and able to integrate into Japanese society. From this position, I have a clear view of where I stand, and I don’t feel myself get lost in a sea of people who are similar to me. 

I know that I am alone, which means I know that I am different, which, for better or for worse, is an extremely comforting feeling to someone trying to find their own voice, and to use that voice to create and share pieces of themselves.

This isolation parallels Japan’s own cultural history. Self imposted isolation has led them to develop a very nuanced and rich culture which is above all unique. I don’t truly believe that what I do is completely unique, but living in Japan, I can sometimes fool myself into thinking that it is, which allows me to see and feel things I could never dig out of myself sitting at home in Sydney.”

This event has concluded
Dates:
Hours:
Entry Fee: Free
Exhibition Event:
Official Opening 04/05/2014 3:00 pm
Artist Talk 04/05/2014 5:00 am
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