The Floating World
—a photographic essay on Culture/Nature.
Images from Tokyo – its architecture, an aquarium, a fish market and its cuisine – photographed in the tradition of the flâneur, are brought together with staged portraits and still lifes in an attempt to explore a culture pervaded by an endlessly refined, sophisticated and radical appetite for fish.
Fugu – the dish from the lethally poisonous pufferfish – functions as an analogy on the relationship between culture and nature and is the starting point for a collection of meandering, elusive reflections.
— two interrelated photo-essays by photographers Michael Heilgemeir (London/Munich) and Keisuke Kamiyama (Tokyo), photographed in parallel in and around Tokyo.
A Parallax is an apparent change in the direction of an object, caused by a change in the observational position that provides a new line of sight.
An illustration: Hold up your thumb – line it up with something further away – alternately look at it with either your left or right eye closed – its image will shift in front of the background.
Starting from a curiosity for how Japan and its culture are perceived by foreigners, and how resulting images look drastically different from the self-perception of the Japanese, ‘The Legal Alien’ is an exploration of how we look and understand (or think that we understand) other cultures that are outside of our own perspective. Kamiyama accompanies, guides and frequently photographs Heilgemeir, while the later photographs images for ‘The Floating World’ in Tokyo.
An alien is looking at Japan with an alien gaze, looking alien in an alien land – and Japan is looking back.
Though the two series are self-contained and independent narrations, the same scenarios are seen from two different points of view and it becomes apparent what is at each other’s blind spot. It’s a photographic dialogue on perception, subjectivity, the arbitrariness of the image and image making, and the imaginary exotic other.