Sasaki captures the subjects with a camera moving under a 20-30 seconds exposure time, while interrupting the light stream several times during each shot. The extension of light in captured images thus reveals its blackout and lines absorb the rhythm to show the viewer the overlapping ruptures in continuity. Layers of stretched light coming from the windows of the city skyscrapers reconfigure the image of Tokyo (and of Shanghai, in the Shanghai Layers series), taking the viewer through a personalized temporality, light and space tectonics expressively transformed by the artist through the fragmented moments of each shot.
In these photographs, the viewer is confronted with the abstract logics of photography and the concrete logics of actual conditions, as the artist multiplies the layers of visual information. Diverse moments overlap, not in harmonious and coherent forms or structures, but rather in simultaneous, shimmering landscapes of light that compose intangible space-time structures. The discontinuous archaeology of the cityscape is transformed into a heterogeneous space that holds the power to re-inform reality. While the photographs reflect the diffuse nature of contemporary environments, with all their ambiguous manifestations, actions and effects, their limitless and dissolving architecture, it is the intermediate space or the “between” of perception that the artist highlights, a space of incertitude and indetermination where the superposition of disparate moments seems to create a series of virtual carpets of light. Image within image – image versus image: the layerings of the Tokyo cityscape draw attention to the blurring state of the gaze, as the camera allows the artist to bring together the analogical and the synthetic, the real and the virtual (the real as virtual). Sensitively, the artist has turned visual architecture into impermanence, creating a series of inter-images.
Three historical perspectives are simultaneously brought into question in Makoto Sasaki’s photographs: a hierarchical structuring of the world, characteristic of perspective representation and pertaining to the classical observer; a mirroring relativity of fragments and self-referential organizations, characteristic of modern planimetry and pertaining to the modern flâneur; and the shift from a deterministic to an indeterminate cartography, characteristic of contemporary imagining and pertaining to contemporary urban explorers. Everything univocal or literal in its referent has been replaced by an abstract, open approach that stimulates the observation of evolutionary trajectories. Light multiplies the physical space and creates different intensities and scales. The artist is not interested in observing the cohesive hierarchies of an absolute space his photographs would picture, but to follow the atonal movements and visions that describe a discontinuous experience of fragmented figurations of the real. What we are given to see is the temporal variable, modification and alteration that is representative of abstract processes rather than literal figurations; and therefore – a shifted geography and temporality. Photography thus captures the interaction between conflicting energies which are different and empathetic at the same time, in a harmony that describes a vibrating, contingent field. Any concept of context would be amplified to the point of dissolving here: all places, situations, and conditions are balanced out of the picture. This hallucinating view on multiplicity, emergence and open-endedness that describes contemporary cityscapes yet reveals itself to the viewer as an object of inconstant and inconsistent thought, an architecture of immateriality.
It has been said repeatedly that the fortunes of contemporary topological metaphors are the reflection of our difficulties in challenging foundational discourses. But while all networks, virtual spaces, simulations, and projections constitute active expansions of reality through intangible material supports, this intangible density needs to be understood as a critical tool addressing issues of disposition and affect rather than issues of dimension. The space in Makoto Sasaki’s photographs is a vibrating and conflicting field of unexpected occurrences and experiences. The unfolding of materials, densities and energies describes vertical trajectories and a thinking of the abstract nature of space and time. Cultural, societal, technological, and economic information interact here within vertical strata of existing geographies that re-inform our perception of the real and our understanding of any here or now. Like any construction, the image in Sasaki’s photographs is not determined by its own existence, but seeks to produce effects outside itself. The image is discontinuous, it does not occupy or capture within its frames; instead, it is a receptacle for the voids and plenitudes, the occupations and spacings that define our living spaces and our time experiences, with all their continuities, discontinuities, shifts, alterations and accelerations, displacements and dislocations, appearances and disappearances. The image is unstable; this instability suggests the idea of the city and perception as something generic that is never concrete or defined. It is in the lapse of emergence that points of view arise. The dazzling luminous radiations are a colourful, exultant manifestation of the dynamical, which the viewer can see as both force and emotion. Time and perception expand beyond the frame – for they are ultimately “savage.”
Text by Sabin Bors, February 2, 2015