At the point where many other photographers stop, Daisuke Yokota begins. Despite the generally accepted view on photography as a single slice of time, the young Japanese photographer wonders whether time itself can be represented within an image. The ambition to find a way for photographs to carry time within them led Yokota to experiment again and again until he finally developed a style that sets him apart in today’s international photography scene. That said, the Japanese photographer has recently added another award to the list. He has been chosen as the winner of the 2016 Foam Paul Huf Award, ‘in recognition of his complex, sophisticated practice.’
It seems that Daisuke Yokota is not able to leave a photograph alone. His approach to photography involves multiple re-photographing, printing, and application of various techniques and interventions, and this extremely experimental and manipulative aspect of his work enabled him to set a photograph in motion, so to speak. Stating ‘recollection of memories’ as the basic drive of his alluring photo creations, Yokota practices multiple re-photographing and layering of interventions in order to achieve a sense of time, past and present and all that in between, in a visual medium which is in this respect limited.
Yokota’s images, unlike much of what we can see today, do function as a sort of record except that the original shot is significantly altered during the working process so that the final image gets a kind of “déjà vu” feeling. How he does it? Well, the artist first takes his images with a compact digital camera, re-photographs the prints on medium-format film, and then develops the film using heat, light, acid and more to alter and distort the images and thus adding new narratives to each new print. To produce more and more variations in the final image, he sometimes re-photographs the image up to ten times. For such an approach Yokota finds inspiration in music and film, more precisely, in Aphex Twin’s experimentation with delay, reverb and echo and the Lynchian cinematic narrative and aesthetics.
With each new recording, Yokota is one step away from reality but also from the common perception of time in photography. Furthermore, with each new series of photographs, Yokota’s work seems to become more abstract creating a stronger impression of the visual enigma. This eagerness to continuously test the limits of photography and break out of the alleged restriction of the medium earned Yokota the deserved recognition and praise. So far he has produced several acclaimed photobooks, including Vertigo, Site/Cloud, Back Yard, to name a few. Obviously, it’s incredibly exciting time for photography and a new generation of young Japanese photographers, among which Daisuke Yokota is perhaps the most innovative one at the moment, proves it.