I have a rather complex relationship to Japan. It is something I have at times completely avoided thinking about or alternatively, obsessed over. A past life, yet like all lived experience, it is a large part of who I am now. On an entirely personal level it can be a bit disconcerting to see moments of your past turned into these objects... solidified and frozen in time. This project began during my seemingly endless commutes in the last place I truly felt at home.
Sitting on a train one day I overheard a conversation about how much of our lives is spent doing completely mundane things. The number of hours we spend brushing our teeth in a lifetime, etc. It suddenly occurred to me how much of my life I had spent just sitting on a train in Tokyo. At that point it was 5 years x 365 days x 2 hours = Approximately 152 days. It was then I decided to pick up my first camera, an old Lubitel 2, and start taking pictures of the things that captured my attention. This in-between linked by subways, cars and walking paths is a space filled with possibility. There are so many unforeseen connections, fleeting moments of tranquility; life. I had no idea how lucky I was at the time.
I have always thought of Tokyo as a series of islands. It is such an immense, densely populated city. We knew the neighborhoods we lived or worked in, the bars and restaurants that became our extended living spaces. But that vast in-between that we travelled through by train, bus, car... remained largely unknown. This is of course not entirely unique to Tokyo. I think any of the major cities of the world share the same quality. It is these intervals between destinations, the solitude in the crowd, that I am most passionate about as a photographer.
The series Parentheses was, in part, inspired by a book I was reading at the time, Non-Places: An Introduction To An Anthropology Of Supermodernity by Marc Augé. In it he explores the idea “that we are in transit through non-place for more and more of our time, as if between immense parentheses, and concludes that this new form of solitude should become the subject of an anthropology of its own". Oddly enough, it is in these parentheses that I am most comfortable. I love the city, the freedom of anonymity, the chance meetings between people who would never otherwise meet, the endless possibilities and never knowing what is around the next corner. At that time Tokyo was simply home and a home I was endlessly fascinated by. These parentheses can only occur in the human experience, they are as Isaac Stern described music, “that little bit between each note-silences which give form”.
For more images from the Parentheses series click here.