In 1868, the first year of the Meiji Period, the city of “Edo” was renamed “Tokyo” to become the capital of Japan. Approximately 150 years later, advancing through earthquakes, wars, rapid economic growth, and more, Tokyo is now placed amid a large scale — which some call, once-in-a-century — “re”development process with the hosting of the second Olympics serving as its momentum.
Contemporary lifestyle has changed according to the advancement of information technology, as well as the branches of artificial intelligence, robotics, and next-generation mobile communication system. Everyday life, captured from diverse angles via various devices including smartphones, surveillance cameras, and artificial satellites, are accumulated as big data along with other image data and lifelogs to provide feedback to individual behaviors and social systems. Simultaneously, our society is confronted by many matters such as the aging and shrinking population, rural depopulation, economic inequality, gender issues, integration of foreign workers, and is exposed to the long-term effects of the nuclear disaster, as well as natural disasters resulting from global climate change.
Urban landscape, city infrastructure, and information network all affect our senses. How can we redefine the city, situated in these contemporary circumstances?
“The research of photography is how we work with it ー how we use it and seek out new operations for it.”* Photographic research isn’t a mere reproduction of pre-existing matters, but a practice with the purpose of giving rise to a new image through unique perspectives and approaches.
In this project, 12 artists active in the fields of contemporary art and photography reinterpret Tokyo and present their respective works. TOKYO PHOTOGRAPHIC RESEARCH is an attempt to understand today’s experiences through the various expressions focused on the city of “Tokyo,” and furthermore an exploration of multifaceted modernity via the discussions and examinations arising out of the endeavor.
*Excerpt from “Photography as Experiment” by Duncan Wooldridge (What is Photographic Research?, Camberwell Press, 2016)