“I prefer to show something hard to transmit rather than just transmit an event.”
Koichi Nishiyama (born in 1968) currently lives and works as a photographer and designer in Tokyo, Japan. She studied contemporary art at “B Seminar School”, Yokohama and participated in a “Workshop Calotype” held by Jun Shiraoka. Koichi Nishiyama is represented by Zoxx Gallery (Europe). For Koichi Nishiyama photography is a means to deal with the distorsion of reality when its fitted in a frame through the viewfinder of a camera.
“These photographs were taken in the suburbs of Tokyo. It all started because it was close to where I live. It was coincidentally in Japan, the place I was born and raised. I was not searching for anything spectacular.
“Spending hours walking around the suburbs of Tokyo to take photographs of houses and shops continuously became the core of my creative work in the process.”
The surface of the walls, the metals and the plastics in my photographs were hard to involve emotionally. Spending hours walking around the suburbs of Tokyo to take photographs of houses and shops continuously became core of my creative work in the process.
And yet, photographic technology has an aspect of a scientific phenomenon through a lens and electronics, it is always a distortion of vision on the surface beyond my personal intention.
The photographs were selected from the long succession of my work and reassemble to create a new aspect of the things in a virtual space. Its endless iterative would be able to come closer to ‘You would cross an empty beach to look at the ocean’ by Agnes Martin.”
Interview with Koichi Nishiyama
Koichi, what was your most memorable moment shooting pictures?
The photographs of a tree that I took in a park on a rainy day seven years ago. They clarified what I wanted in my photography when I checked them on PC monitor.
Why did you become a photographer?
I have been publishing my work in performing arts and sculpture for more than 20 years. I started to collect material by using a DSLR camera 7 years ago. It succeeded in visualising my uncertain view or thought against outer world.
What does photography mean to you and what do you want to say with your pictures?
Photography can be an imitation of actuality. However I often have doubts about that. There may be a kind of distortion between a photograph and reality because they are alike. It goes beyond me by searching the tangent point. The question of what I want to say with my pictures is, for me, based on the assumption that I cannot transmit everything. Nevertheless, the desire to transmit complicated aspects of reality fitted in a frame to someone never dies inside of me. I prefer to show something hard to transmit rather than just transmit an event.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
Eugène Atget, Josef Sudek, Lewis Baltz, and Jun Shiraoka.
It’s very difficult to select one photographer because I was influenced by various artists. I learnt composition by one artist. Another artist taught me color scheme. And I felt sympathy in the life of one photographer.
Your favorite photography quote?
“I take photographs day and night. Sometimes I take good photographs, sometimes bad. However, I believe something will come up if I take the time.”
How would you describe your photographic voice and creative process?
I shoot photos with a traditional Atget way in the suburban areas of Tokyo. It’s unexciting place.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic voice?
Good encounters and many years of assiduous effort. Everytime I turn the camera towards an object, I always take the time to think that I am on my own in this place in this time.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually?
I always pay attention to composition. That’s because I’m aware that it’s only an illusion on a surface. It’s consequent to conceive four corners in a picture. The camera and the lens I own are the ones that can be bought from an ordinary camera shop. They are not perfect, but they’ll do.
What qualities and characteristics does a good photographer need?
Some photographers change their photographic style, some don’t. Either way, it’s necessary to continue as well as with their everyday lives.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes? Especially keeping in mind the over abundance of photographic imagery in today’s society.
“It’s difficult to set a standard, but shape and color would be the important things regarding photographs. It’s precious If I come across a photo that has these qualities.”
Photographs have become familiar to everyone like speaking. We see a lot of photographs as well as speaking and listening, though I haven’t taken statistics of it. However, in rare cases, we see a picture or hear a word which make us choke up with emotion. It’s difficult to set a standard, but shape and color would be the important things regarding photographs. It’s precious If I come across a photo that has these qualities.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
It could be anywhere. Everyday lives. Sometimes during the shooting, sometimes at the exhibition.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
Nikon’s DSLR and one single focus lens.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
I discover more attractive photographs on Facebook these days than on individual websites.
What photography book would you recommend?
“Prototype Works” by Lewis Baltz.
It’s not only an art work. It can take a look at the photographer’s trial and error.
Atget didn’t call himself an artist, however, he created a tremendous photo book full of originality. That is the most important thing about photography.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a (professional) photographer?
Meet good people and pay attention to great artists of the past in various categories.