FOREST 印象と記憶 1989-2017

2018, Seigensha Art Publishing, 青幻舎
Design : Kenya Hara, Shinpei Nakamura (Nippon Design Center, Inc.)

On Forest: Impressions and Memories 1989–2017 
It’s almost 30 years since I began photographing forests, and I have now captured on camera three forests seemingly unrelated, apart from geographically, all being sited on the Pacific Rim: the forest of Quinault in the northwestern United States; Yakushima in the south of the Japanese archipelago; and the virgin forest of the Kasuga Taisha shrine in Nara, central Japan. Crudely put, I suppose you could say my photographing these places was due to force of circumstance, serendipity, some kind of affinity, or suchlike. But actually these three forests share something very important to me: a kind of precious power that compels people to protect them, that has ensured their protection by humans since antiquity. The vital ability to perceive this power has passed down the generations since the dawn of mankind. I feel it myself with great intensity. I have been to many forests, but on encountering these three, found myself seized by a peculiar sensation that drove me to photograph them: a keen sensation that arose from inside of me, impossible to express in words. It was this sensation that prompted me to photograph this trio of forests.
From the earliest years of human history, like other creatures of the land emerging miraculously upon it, people instinctively felt enormous awe at the power of the forest, the power of trees, carrying as they do the source of the power to produce life. Yet over the centuries, at some point this instinctive awe of the forest with which human beings were originally endowed, began to fade.
This is not unconnected, one suspects, to homo sapiens’ mastery of language. Language emerged to enable people to tell others about the state of the world. And over time, the meaning of the primeval source presumably manifested in those words gradually morphed into something conceptual, and symbolic. The language we use today has likely already lost the power to connect directly to the world and our instincts, and allow us to perceive them. The word “forest” no longer inspires our awe. Yet the fact remains that if we go there, stand still, attention focused, eyes and ears open, the “forest” itself will let us know that it still represents something inexpressible in words: a power bigger, something more primeval; a fundamental force possessed by all life. In the forest we may perceive, and observe with our own eyes, the power of this miraculous planet to produce life.
There is also the fact that despite the terrible destruction inflicted on forests purely for human ends in modern times, these forests have been preserved by humans, and other living things, from antiquity right up to the present day. It is with a sense of the incredible power of these forests, their power as the source of all life, and possessed by a fierce desire to capture on film the forest, where the principles and providence of this primeval source revealed to us by this, our planet so wild and yet so delicate, that I suppose I attempt to take photographs of the forest, and am compelled by the forest, to do the taking.
– July 16, 2017
Mid-flight between Beijing and Tokyo

「FOREST 印象と記憶 1989-2017」によせて
– 2017年7月16日


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