Once: Past-Future tense/ vol.1

Cape Zampa

I’m photographing in Okinawa. This geographical name, “Okinawa,” is always very political; this might be the fate of the name. It’s past over 70 years, though.  The scenery which I’m walking around and taking pictures of is just only “Okinawa,” a “thing which there’s here now,” but never a “thing which there’d been once.” In this regard, however, the place where I’m standing was the “topos” where “something” ever occurred, and under my feet the “history” must lie, that never focus into an image. Then how can we capture the nature of this “topos”?

“Whether or not the subject is already dead, every photograph is this catastrophe.”(*1) This passage written by Roland Barthes in “Camera Lucida” recall the opposite of mine; a “thing which there’s here now” is “simultaneously presenting us with a ’that has been’ and a ‘this will be,’ ”(*2) so that the object itself holds the “pastness” and “futurity” together. What I bring up here is the absence of the object to be photographed, which occurs us both.

Under this kind of paradox, can the act make sense that one directs a lens toward the direction? Takanashi expressed it in his photo-book,”genius loci, tokyo,” like below; this experiment is to capture the aspect of Tokyo which has lost the ‘neighborhood’ around those ‘geographical names.’ It can be said that there’s a shift our perspective; this is the temporal approach instead of the spatial approach.…History can be expressed with only words transmitted so long and writing handed down. ‘Photography’ can only freeze things present, so ‘history’ is very impossibility for all photographers.”

The geographical names are to be same as before. Even though there’s been changes in terrain, those names exist and show the “topos.” We cannot find any scenery of in 1945 from the present terrain, because the bombing strikes were too strong to keep the land forms. Surely names on the map of troops of both of the U.S. and Japan are exact. Following up the place-names to walk on a map, and trying to look back the scene at that time with these clues.


*1. Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflection on Photography, trans. Richard Howard(New York: Hill and Wang, 1981), 96.

*2.Geoffrey Batchen, Life and Death, (Tokyo: IZU PHOTO MUSEUM, 2010), 108

*3. Yutaka Takanashi, genius loci, tokyo, (Tokyo: 毎日コミュニケーションズ, 2000), 169(trans. Naosuke Yamaichi)