The 12th “1_WALL” Photography Competition Grand Prize Winner
Yoh Aoki won Grand Prize in the 12th “1_WALL” Photography Competition for his photos of scenes from everyday life. During his presentation to the judges, Aoki said he first tried to photograph along the lines of the “girly photo” fad of the late 1990s but it didn’t go well, so he just ended up taking photos of the kind he entered in the competition. His modest self-criticism aside, the judges offered Aoki high acclaim, one describing his works as “skillfully executed while incorporating the artistic trend of the 1990s” and another praising their originality and high quality.
Aoki photographs scenes encountered in everyday life: the room he occupies, the neighborhood he strolls about, scenery he just happens upon. Some of his scenes hint at a human presence or show traces of daily life, while others are inorganic, seemingly capturing nothing, yet giving a sense of something present. At first glance they seem to be specimens of I-photography. But nearly all of them were photographed from an objective viewpoint: some purposely shot to look that way, others being homages to a specific artist’s works, others artificially embellished human portraits. Each photo contains different elements. When Aoki’s disparate photos are lined up, each has a separate meaning and tells a different story. Yet they each have the power to speak to our human senses or memory – and make us imagine what story each tells.
Message from the Artist
I occasionally come across people who have toothaches. Sometimes, when I learn the cause of the toothache, whether it be a cavity or hypersensitivity, I sympathize with the person. But at any case the pain is the other person’s – and not mine.
Taking and showing photographs shot with computerized devices has become extremely commonplace, and today the world is overflowing with huge volumes of photos of fleeting duration, here now and gone tomorrow. Behind this is the widespread acceptance, especially since the 1990s, of attempts at photographic expression that have no theoretical basis in context, storytelling or other form of language – presentations of very private spaces, photos that aim to share an instant’s sensation.
A photograph fixes the image of a specific time and place. Regardless of the purpose for which it was taken, a photograph has a natural meaning, presenting a certain sometime and somewhere. A photograph is a medium that, within its image, virtually expresses the sharing of visual sense organs before perceiving the object at hand. Our experience with photos is a paradox: on one side, a feeling of extreme affinity, and on the other only an extremely vague notion of understanding their contents.
Comment from one of the Judges
It’s annoying when irrational feelings are forced on us. It’s boring when feelings are explained to us by meticulous reasoning. In Yoh Aoki’s works I sense feelings and reasoning, but his works are neither annoying nor boring. While the starting point of his photos is verification of things external to himself – a situation, a phenomenon, a technique – Aoki discovers and depicts, half by accident, things internal to him – a memory, something imagined, or an impulse. Those two contrary eyes cohabit here. Aoki’s photos are low-key but gentle. I look forward to seeing what foray at fixation will come next.
Atsuki Kikuchi (art director)
Born in 1982. Graduated from Waseda University with a BA in Philosophy of Language and Aesthetics.