I am not sure why, but lately I have been drawn to Japanese photography. I am finding the aesthetic of these photographers fascinating. They present their world through photography very differently than western photographers. Perhaps it is because of the history of Japanese art and calligraphy that influences these photographers, similar to how western painting influences European and American photographers.
Recently I came across the works of Naoya Hatakeyama in a book of his photographs called Lime Works. At first glance the photographs are similar to the works of Edward Burtynsky's Quarries presenting similar intensity of how man has imposed himself carving the earth with giant machines. Hatakeyama takes a different perspective, however. His images have an abstract quality that both is surreal and at the same time engaging. The scale and size of the factories from Hatakeyama's point of view appear intense and chaotic. The texture of the surfaces combined with the light of these color photographs are not like anything seen before. Turning the pages of this book leads one on a journey into a world most of us have never seen. The complex jumble of industrial shapes inserted into a landscape appears like science fiction.
Then without warning, the book gives you a breather. Several pages of photographs of lime powder covering everything. You are now inside the lime works. Every surface is white with lime dust. As you peer at each photograph, you wonder, why are there no foot prints? I was struck by Hatakema's images that he never shows people or their presence. Yet, they are always there somehow.
The final journey in this book takes you again outside. This time to the dig sites. More images of disorienting landscapes, but without the industrial hardware. These photographs are beautiful, seemingly off planet vistas of what the lime works leave behind after carving the earth. They have a peacefulness to them while at the same time being slightly on the edge of comfort. Similar to the other images in the book, the theme is seeing (and not seeing) how we humans scar the earth.
A truly enjoyable book of photography!