Photographs by Toshio Shibata.
Poursuite, 2013. 64 pp., 27 color illustrations, 7½x10½".
'For over three decades Toshio Shibata has been traveling across both his native Japan and the United States, making photographs of landscapes at the intersection of the natural and the built environments. On the surface, these images bear all the trappings of traditional landscape photographs: made with a large format camera, they reveal in rich detail how man is transforming the natural landscape. And yet, over the course of his career, Shibata has created a body of work which is unlike any other in this field of photography.
Contemporary landscape photography often focuses on the transformation of the natural landscape through urban expansion and our unquenchable thirst to exploit natural resources. Rather than crudely pointing an accusatory finger, these images generally maintain a cool distance from their subject, while nonetheless building to a more subtle critical message, inviting us to be awed by the unstoppable momentum of an ever-expanding city or dismayed by an increasingly homogenous suburban sprawl. In so doing, these photographs set up a dichotomy between man and nature as two opposing forces.
Shibata's chosen subject of infrastructure occupies this same territory and his images share the cool detachment that characterizes much contemporary landscape photography. And yet they are not invested with a critical message-they are more elusive, more mysterious. They invite us to interpret them freely, with the same freedom that Shibata experiences when driving across the Japanese archipelago, leaving himself open to chance encounters with the landscape. In fact, he describes the process of making his photographs as 'borrowing a landscape': they are not images of the landscape but images made from the landscape. While they document the world that they depict, that is not their primary function. Instead, the exquisite nature of these compositions seems to be inviting us to look at the world a little differently than before, to reconsider what a landscape might be.'(…)
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