Taking a Long Look at Tokyo in the Work of Matthew Pillsbury
Big, Big City;
Expressing the sum of the above variables, the work of award-winning international photographer Matthew Pillsbury is as distinct as it is beautiful, and we were thrilled when granted permission to share a selection with our readers.
Of course anyone can set up a camera for long exposure shots, but there’s undeniable artistry in choosing one’s subject matter, mastering the composition process, and holding true to a theme; Tokyo, a contemplation of the profound socio-technological complexity of the largest city in human history, delivers an exemplar thereof.
Originally a solo exhibition presented last fall at New York’s Benrubi Gallery, this singular collection is unlike anything we’ve shared here a AkihabaraNews, and for that, some essential context:
“For over a decade, Pillsbury has made long exposure photographs using only available light. Across several series and in many cities, he has focused on the passage of time and people within spaces both public and private. His work has addressed the growing role that technology is playing in our lives and the sense of modern seclusion that can seem at odds with the constant connectivity being offered by our smartphones and tablets.
Millions of people file through the streets and subways of Tokyo - the world's most populous megalopolis - and yet it is often done silently, with each person quietly interacting with their gadgets. That disconnect is at the very heart of so much of our modern existence and deeply imbedded within Pillsbury's oeuvre. Technology use, as it has in much of the world, has increased exponentially in Tokyo, latching itself onto everything from modern-day cell phone-obsessed geisha women to the ultra-hip neighborhood of Shinjuku, where themed clubs and bars now include high-tech robotics as a featured part of the entertainment.
While the temples are still revered and deeply respected places of worship, pop culture and rebellion amongst Western-obsessed Japanese youth have crept irreversibly in, forcing sacred and traditional sites to share cultural importance with modern Manga robots and Disney castles. To capture this shifting energy and some of the surreal scenes he encountered, Pillsbury has started making color photographs and using much shorter exposures. Pillsbury moves freely within the vibrant pockets of buzzing Tokyo allowing him to contend with what for him has been a career long fascination with technology, alienation and who we are becoming armed with our electronic tools.”
Hanami at Shinjuku Gyoen
Cup Noodles Museum, Yokohama
Mori Tower City View
Daibutsu at Kotokoin Temple, Kamakura
Hanami at Inokashira Park
All images by Matthew Pillsbury, courtesy of Benrubi Gallery