Seeing the light, feeling the light―Takeshi Sumi's photographs
Kotaro Iizawa(photography critic)
It is well known that the term “photography” is a compound word consisting of “photo” and “graph”, which means to draw by light.But because Japanese has adapted the word shashin, which literally means “reflecting the truth”, as the equivalent of “photography”, we tend to forget the original concept of photography, a trace of light.What is more, when we look at a photograph, we usually see what it shows and that’s it. And it becomes even more difficult to think that the image is created by light.It is just not so easy for us to see or to fell the light itself directly.
Takeshi Sumi has recently been engaged in a project in which he has adopted a unique way. He makes small holes in his prints with a pin, and then he takes a picture of them, holding them up to the sun. It can be said to be a way of unveiling the “hidden light” from his photograph.This idea first appreaed in his works “Hikari (Light)”, which received an honorable mention in New Cosmos of Photography in 2010. Sumi developed this project further, and exhibited it at his solo show held in Port Gallery T (Osaka) in 2011.
It should be noted that the prints Sumi used for the work were copies of his own family photographs.His grandfather, passed away about 15 years ago, used to work in Kure city in Hiroshima. On August 6, 1945, he witnessed the atomic bombing from where was only 20km away from the ground zero.Needless to say, a sharp flash must have penetrated all the things around the area at the moment of the explosion, burning up and destructing everything.
Sumi pricks myriads of holes in a photograph of his grandfather as a young man so as to let in the sunshine through them.
This seems to be a ritual to experience for ourself the flash of the August 6 again.
Light illuminates all living things in this world and is essential for us to maintain our own lives.However, in contrast to this positive role, light could show a cruelty and violence as revealed in the flash of the atomic bomb.In the series of “Hikari”, we can see this duality.From the beams of light coming through the holes in his prints, we sometimes get a tender and soft impression, and at other times sharp and violent one.
In the series titled “Sora ni oyogu (Fly in the sky)”, which was exhibited at Port Gallery T in 2012, this ambivalence seems to grow stronger.
In this series, Sumi created his work using not only his family photographs but also the snapshots taken in various places in Tokyo. In either case, he again pricked many holes in the photographs.
It appeared to me as a preferable change.
If he is content with just creating his works using his family photographs, he will not be able to go beyond the superficial level of “seeing the light” and “feeling the light”.
The act of sticking a pin into unidentified faces or bodies on his photographs taken on streets requires Sumi to prepare himself to bear the pain of guilt over doing it.
And, the viewer may also perceive the beams of light through the holes he pricked on his photographs, expecting the feeling pain and guilt.
Of course, Sumi is well conscious of it.
We can grasp his intention from the artist statement he wrote for his own exhibition “Sora ni oyogu”. In it, he wrote as follows: The blank space created by light. Because photograph is the thing “fixes” the flow of time, I want the light to break it. To see, to imagine. Extend your limbs, and dive into the world that extends beyond the blanks on my photographs.
To understand the light through the holes on his photographs as the “blanks” with great possibilities, and to dive into there ---- this is the attitude Sumi wants in the viewer.
He sure will continue to experiment.And we are looking forward to seeing what he wil gain from such experiments.
2010 『「あれから20 年、これから20 年」未来に届くアート展』ガーデァイアンガーデン/東京
2011 個展『光』＠Port Gallery T/大阪
2012 『存在』in nagune/歌舞伎町・東京
『NEW WAVE OF JAPANESE PHOTOGRARHY』/スペイン
『TOKYO-GA meets NYPH2012』in 111Front Street/ニューヨーク
2010 ２０１０年度『写真新世紀』佳作（大森 克己氏選）
Born in Kyoto in 1981
Bachelor of Art 'Tama Art University ' ,Tokyo 2010
Bachelor of Literature'meiji University',Tokyo 2004
2012 Look at the sky,Overland Gallery,Tokyo
2012 Flying in the Sky, Port Gallery T,Osaka
2011 Light is blank, Blanclass,Yokohama
2011 hikari（English meaning:Light）,Port Gallery T,Osaka
2010 Meteorite,Gallery Akaruiheya（English meaning:Bright room）,Tokyo
■Selected Group Shows/art fair
2012 Winter Group Show ,Satoshi Koyama Gallery
2012 no found photo fair,66 RUE DE TURENNE 75003 PARIS
2012 TOKYO PHOTO 2012,Tokyo Midtown Hall, Roppongi
2012 Tokyo-Ga meets NYPH2012,111 Front Street,NY
2011 Tokyo-Ga（東京画）,Gallery 21,Tokyo
2010 Exhibition New Cosmos of Photography, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum ofPhotography
2009 Exhibition New Cosmos of Photography, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
2008 30th Hitotubo Exhibition,Ginza Guardian Garden,Tokyo
2012 『Fly in the sky』Libro Arte
2010 Selected: New Cosmos of Photography
2009 Selected: New Cosmos of Photography
2008 Selected:30th Hitotubo
Takeshi Sumi HP