So far the only thing that could soothe me during my most anxious times was a long walk to the sea. Since I redescovered the visual poetry of Masao Yamamoto, they became two. Looking at his pictures is a bit like squinting at the sun, when everything is in high contrast and blurred at the same time – pure light and shadow.
It’s almost impossible to stop looking at them. I float from one to the other, following an invisible thread of aestethic and poetic associations, retracing in each one of them the beauty and the imperfect. And all of this eases, as much as the noise of the hair dryer, the fingers through your hair, the sound of the waves.
Yamamoto, a painter who gracefully slided into the world of photography, doesn’t solely take pictures. He collects memories, visual haikus that can be ordered and placed in different combinations. “In the past, when I was a child, I collected insects. I have a tendency to collect things. As an adult, instead of killing the insects, I began to take photos of them to collect the images”
His pictures, that he himself defines so small that sometimes you cannot figure out what you’re looking at, is part of a longer narration, chapters of a whole story that doesn’t have a beginning nor an end and that has its own meaning as much as its single parts. Every subject is a “memory fallen out of someone’s drawer”, belonging to the whole, to that stream of consciousness where details are either contemplated or completely ignored, on the discretion of the beholder’s eye. “A good photo is one that soothes. Makes us feel kind, gentle. A photo that gives us courage, that reminds us of good memories, that makes people happy”.
But the memories Yamamoto talks about are not fleeting, you can touch them. Every single picture is also a precious object that perfectly fits the palm of a hand – because if we can hold a picture in our hands, we can grasp its souvenir, weight its value, make it ours.
Just like a memory takes root with the passing of time, Yamamoto artificially ages his pictures bringing them in his pocket, rubbing them with his hands, tearing them, leaving behind the marks of time that passes by, that changes and transforms, according to the true spirit of wabi-sabi. In this process of forgetting/production of memory, every shot becomes itself essence of the past and retains inside more stories which belong to completely different moments – chinese boxes where the vacuum, the fullness and the self find the space to cohexist.