Sohei Nishino

Sohei Nishino is a Japanese photographer who obsesses over places. In his series of images entitled ‘Diorama Maps’ he spends about a month travelling around a city and continually photographing everything that he sees. But it is only after intensive research that he is able to do this. After his month of travelling he assembles all of his images together to form this huge collage which is awe inspiring and follows the dictates of his memory. Nishino was influenced by 18th Century Japanese Cartographer Ino Tadataka. He created the first map of Japan by walking around the country. And Nishino says that we should all take inspiration from this, rather than relying on the technological advancements that allows us to ‘know the world’ from our computer screen.

William A Ewing said: “The old Cubists would have adored these maps: we look up while looking down;we look down…and see the sky. Nishino’s giddy maps remind us that cities, for all their giddy chaos, are the core miraculous human achievements” The effect that these diorama maps have on us is that as a viewer, you have to almost deconstruct this entire image that Nishino has constructed by trying to look at each photograph individually. Something that would probably be much easier to do when they are printed largely on a gallery wall, rather than on a small laptop screen. The way that these photographs are positioned additionally make it look almost medieval, referencing a moment in history where this process would’ve been similar to how maps would have been constructed, using creativity rather than an inch-accurate portrayal of the space.

What I marvel more about is not only the creativity that has gone into something like this. But of the patience, doing it digitally would have been time consuming enough. But Nishino photographed all of his on film. Meaning a considerable amount of time would have gone into the post processing also. It was a very important element for Nishino that he did all of this himself. he said “While it would save a lot of time I asked an assistant or the lab to do some of these things for me, I use my body to complete all various processes necessary for my work. This is because I think our normal memories are unreliable; the sense that I get through my body and my physical memory of my body are the only things I can really trust. by experiencing the whole process physically and doing all the work myself – including the walking, film processing, cutting out of images – I try to wind my memory back by means of these physical activities.”     

I absolutely love the idea of creating something that no one has ever done before, this is something that I think about before I start any new photographic project. And I admire the dedication and effort that someone must go through to create such an inspiration work of art like this. After studying the work of Nishino, our group for this week wanted to include some aspect of his work with our own. Now, we only have one week to produce this piece of work so walking around Southampton to create a piece like this isn’t really an option. However in our discussion and deciding we want to photograph daily things through our own realities then joining them together to create a collage, this will be effective in achieving an overall powerful piece that can reference Nishino, even in a small way.

Shore, R. (2014) Post-Photography: The Artist with a Camera. United Kingdom: Laurence King Publishing.

O’Hagan, S. (2011) ‘Unreal cities: Sohei Nishino’s magical photographic maps of London, Tokyo and utopia’, The Guardian, 24 February. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2011/feb/24/sohei-nishino-diorama-maps (Accessed: 26 February 2015).

© Kirstie Wilkinson

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