One night I had an idea while I was at the movies: to photograph the film itself. I tried to imagine photographing an entire feature film with my camera. I could already picture the projection screen making itself visible as a white rectangle. In my imagination, this would appear as a glowing, white rectangle; it would come forward from the projection surface and illuminate the entire theater. This idea struck me as being very interesting, mysterious, and even religious.
Fossils work almost the same way as photography as a record of history. The accumulation of time and history becomes a negative of the image. And this negative comes off, and the fossil is the positive side. This is the same as the action of photography.
I want to put it back together now, this artistic expression that contains religious feeling. I want to investigate: What was the origin? What's happened in the human mind? Can we trace back the moment of the creation of human consciousness? And why did only humans gain consciousness, not other animals? So, evolution? I don't know whether or not I can believe evolution. Maybe we wait for another 100,000 years and then apes get consciousness.
When I saw this Broken Kilometer, it reminded me of these 1,000 Buddhas. That piece is 1,000 one-meter gold rods, and this is 1,000 pieces of gold gilded wooden sculpture. In terms of design, it's up to the space's character.
Population diminishing, even in Japan and Italy, the population is diminishing. When society can reach a sustainable place or gain comfortable income, then people tend to have fewer children. Poverty makes a chain reaction of having many children. So when society reaches some kind of level, then it will turn toward getting a smaller population.
Waterlilies always come in Buddhist sculpture. The Buddhas all stand on lotus pedestals, because the lotus is grown from the mud. The mud represents the stained world, a dirty world, but growing from the dirt is such a beautiful, pure thing. This is the way the spirit should be.
People have been reading photography as a true document, at the same time they are now getting suspicious. I am basically an honest person, so I let the camera capture whatever it captures whether you believe it or not is up to you; it’s not my responsibility, blame my camera, not me.
I didn't want to be criticized for taking low-quality photographs, so I tried to reach the best, highest quality of photography and then to combine this with a conceptual art practice. But thinking back, that was the wrong decision [laughs]. Developing a low-quality aesthetic is a sign of serious fine art-I still see this.
Humans have changed the landscape so much, but images of the sea could be shared with primordial people. I just project my imagination on to the viewer, even the first human being. I think first and then imagine some scenes. Then I go out and look for them. Or I re-create these images with my camera. I love photography because photography is the most believable medium. Painting can lie, but photography never lies: that is what people used to believe.
Photography is like a found object. A photographer never makes an actual subject; they just steal the image from the world...Photography is a system of saving memories. It's a time machine, in a way, to preserve the memory, to preserve time.
I'm thinking about the end of civilization. We may not keep growing like we are now. There must be an end of civilization. That's what I did as a show at the Palais de Tokyo, the 33 scenarios of how this civilization ends.
Where do you draw the line as a human being? Written record is only, what, a couple thousand years? And this scientific revolution is less than a hundred years. And computers only a few decades! We've changed so much. It's amazing, the speed of changes.
The Seascapes are before human beings and after human beings. The Seascapes were there before our presence, and when our civilization is over, seascapes will still exist. Our presence is temporary. Civilization is only 5,000 to 6,000 years. The history of ours, the material history of consciousness, is rather short.
When people call me a photographer, I always feel like something of a charlatan—at least in Japanese. The word shashin, for photograph, combines the characters sha, meaning to reflect or copy, and shin, meaning truth, hence the photographer seems to entertain grand delusions of portraying truth.