During my internet wanderings, there is a particular photographer I keep coming back to: Daisuke Yokota. Born in Saitama in 1983, he upholds a noticeable trend amongst Japanese photographers to work in black and white (think Kohei Yoshiyuki, Daido Moriyama and Nobuyoshi Araki).
In Araki’s seminal series Erotos, the erotic is found to be located in the everyday. The use of a monochrome aesthetic allows texture to dominate: light and dark are exaggerated in their juxtaposition and flashed surfaces glisten, heightening the sensual suggestion. We want to inspect more closely, touch and taste the forbidden fruits that are offered to us.
Nobuyoshi Araki, Erotos #8
Texture is also crucial in Yokota’s monochrome work: the supposedly smooth, flat photographic surface becomes riddled with imprints, burns, cuts and markings, all matter of traces from both the photographic and post-production processes.
Daisuke Yokota, Nocturnes
However, if the absence of colour in work such as Araki’s results in a greater focus on the sexual charge that he is purposefully trying to make us find in these forms, there is an absence of specific meaning in Yokota’s work. There is nothing forceful, but rather many hazy, grainy layers that must be discovered and probed one by one. Appropriately, Yokota’s cites artists such as Aphex Twin and David Lynch as primary influences:
“First, Aphex Twin has a lot of aliases, so his work is less about seeing his real name as some kind of symbol, and more about the songs themselves. There’s a sense that you can’t really see him, and this kind of confusion is interesting to me. Then, to speak about his music, there’s a lot of experimentation with delay, reverb and echo, which is playing with the way that you perceive time. Of course there’s no time in a photograph, but I thought about how to apply this kind of effect, or filter, to photography. I was definitely influenced by the idea of ‘ambience.’ David Lynch is probably the same for me, in the way that he works with time and perception.”
Thus, like an Aphex Twin track, certain visual currents in these images rise and fall to prominence, coming together to create a whole that is mesmerising due to its many distinct parts and consistencies.
Finally, the Fossil series is especially intriguing. Images are printed onto fragile paper and subsequently scrunched and torn, another form of assault on the glossy photo finish we anticipate. The eye is drawn to the folds and gaps in the paper, like cracks in a rock’s surface, adding a further tactile layer to the already indistinct forms that occupy the images.
Daisuke Yokota, Fossil
This series is a reminder that printed photographs are a kind of fossil. As Yokota himself highlights, “there’s no time in a photograph”: photographs freeze time, preserve it in a casing for rediscovery in the future. The moment will be arrested, but the objects they live in will be weathered and changed by age, circumstance and the touch of countless curious fingers.