Primal Mountain is one of Yuji Hamada’s earliest works.
When the Great East Japan Earthquake struck in 2011, Hamada had been exploring what it is to see with a project entitled photograph. Following the disaster the news was filled with shocking videos of the aftermath as well as a wave of disinformation on television, the Internet and in print. The gap between the media’s portrayal of events and our own subjective realities inspired Hamada to create Primal Mountain.
At first glance the images appear to be mountainous landscapes, but closer inspection reveals the peaks to be made from household items. These photos challenge us to reconsider the very nature of seeing, along with light and shadow, the normal and the bizarre, reality and fantasy. Contradictory elements come together to imply natural structures. Hamada’s breathtaking images, which straddle the line between fact and fiction, serve as a reminder of the importance of observation in everyday life.
Sometime after the earthquake, while Hamada was meditating on the nature of truth, lies, the visible and the unseen, he received a postcard from a friend. On it was a mountain so beautiful it seemed too good to be true. Was it real or just more fakery? Thus the concept for Primal Mountainwas born. This series is an examination of the difference between actual mountains and our conceptions of them.
One day in 2005, I saw a girl in the park. It was almost evening, and she seemed mesmerized by a patch of sunlight resting on her palm. She asked me, “Where did this light come from, and how?” I mulled over the question; the light had been emitted by the sun, before traveling an astronomical distance to reach that very place, but I refrained from telling her so. She seemed to be looking for a different kind of answer.
The distance that sunlight travels is crucial for our planet to flourish, and nurtures an environment in which we can survive. Light allows us to see and be seen, in turn realizing the presence of one another. Yet in our daily lives, neither light nor shadow capture our attention; they are simply too ubiquitous.
I often find myself pondering the light that shines unnoticed, whether it be somewhere on this planet, or in outer space. Seeing light sometimes gives me a peace of mind; other times, it leaves me awestruck. It was these moments that led to a desire to capture, through photography, the light that exists in our everyday lives.
I created a machine that produced smoke via a hosepipe, hence rendering the rays of light visible. The images were shot using a long exposure and occasionally I would walk into the scene while the film was being exposed, in order to discover the light for myself. In the end, the length of exposure erased any traces of my presence, and all that remained was the light.
Born in Osaka, Japan in 1979. Graduated from the Department of Photography, Nihon University College of Art in 2003. Currently based in Tokyo with works being exhibited worldwide.
Hamada experiments with a variety of unique approaches to create work that is highly conceptual yet rooted in the fundamentals of photography. Major exhibitions include R G B, C/M/Y (PGI, Tokyo), Photograph and Primal Mountain (GALERIE f5,6, Munich). Exhibited in the Swiss photo festival Images (2014) and France’s Phot’Aix Photography Festival (2015), among others.
Major publications include C/M/Y (Fw:books, 2015), which uses the printing process as a means of photographic expression, and BRANCH (lemon books, 2015), a series created with only fallen branches found while mountain climbing in Switzerland. Primal Mountain (torch press) was released in November 2019.
Exhibitions at PGI
|K , 2019|
|R G B, 2018|
|Broken Chord, 2017|
|Pulsar + Primal Mountain, 2013|