Our new series "Multiple Perspectives" examines the relationship between architecture, city and human in the city—through photography. We believe in that the visual reflecting the physical realm is as important and impressive. Our first guest is Yoko Naito. She was born in a small village in Japan, studied in Tokyo, lived in New York and is currently based in Berlin. Her travel through all these cities and their rural environments shaped the structure of her photography series.
“A Japanese person cares about the technic, a New Yorker is into the impact of an image, and a Berliner pays attention to the concept itself“
Your “Unbeknown” series captures famous New York shores during the cold days. How different the result would be if you’d have taken them in summer?
In summer, there are so many people in the beach to enjoy the summer events. Those are very ordinary situations which everyone can imagine. After 5 years in New York, I was looking for the silent environment without a crowd around the city. That is, the unexpected in the same environment and the similarity in different environments. Because I was born in a small village in Japan and grew up in Tokyo area. The experience of the gap between rural and urban life has had a significant effect on me. For this reason, I’m interested in the environment itself. I would like to observe the world objectively, a silent environment was preferred in order for me to capture this essence.
How would you describe the effect of humans on the natural environment?
We always effect to each other. Not only one direction from either human or natural environment. Especially, Japan is surrounded by the ocean, and our environment is often damaged by many natural disasters such as earthquake, tsunami, flood, typhoon, volcano and so on. We appreciate the benefits of the nature but, at the same time, we directly suffer from these threats. Natural disaster is not only an indignant phenomenon for Japanese people, but we also accept this inevitable fact calmly and rebuild our life to continue and to live together with nature. This is the concept of my new ongoing project in Japan. Hopefully, I'll be able to capture it in my home country.
I got the feeling that your “In-between” series reflects your main approach to photography, like a short explanation of your ideas. What do you think?
In my first visit to Iceland, the nature was so dynamic and it overwhelmed me. Eventually, I couldn’t make a project at that time. Through this experience, I re-recognized that we’re living in nature on the earth. Then, I went there again in the following year to grasp the natural environment in Iceland. Actually, I had regarded myself as a person who knew nature because I have traveled to many countrysides in Japan as well as some other countries. But nature in Iceland was totally different from other places. This experience has become a start of my approach to the environment, which is my main concept of photography as you pointed out.
You studied photography in Tokyo. How did your vision and concept get effected when you moved to Berlin?
Firstly, I have based in New York for about 7 years after graduating and working in Tokyo. Then, I moved to Berlin last year. What I felt as the difference between those cities is that a Japanese person cares about the technic, a New Yorker is into the impact of an image, and a Berliner pays attention to the concept itself. Obviously, all of us care about everything of the technic, the impact of an image and the concept, etc... However, we have a different insight into the arts since we have a different root and history of the arts. This is a very curious and important perspective as a Japanese photographer working in the Western countries. Also, my focused subjects have changed from the poetic style to more conceptual style because of the cultural difference of photography while changing my city.
You’ve been taking pictures since 2004. What has been changed since then in the manners of style, technology, colors, methods?
While I was at the university in Tokyo, that period was in the transition from film to digital. Actually, I was the last generation of starting to learn photography with film. After graduating from the university I have used both of them, and now, the digital camera fits on my current photographing style.