Interview: Sachiyo Nishimura

Surface Tensions

I’m delighted to feature fine art photographer Sachiyo Nishimura. Sachiyo’s work references industrial structure presented in a beautifully methodical, re-constructed approach. I find the images quite fascinating; Nishimura’s viewpoint offers a unique narrative, re-constructing structure, changing our perspective and expectations of the urban landscape.

When did you discover photography?
While studying my BA in Fine Arts I was always very into graphic media. I was attempting to investigate the possibilities of image variations within different graphic media which involved the basic principle of image reproduction from a single matrix and the possible manipulations and limitations of each media (i.e. photocopy: a media where an image can be reproduced and you can manipulate the contrast and the size of the original image).

After doing some experiments on a range of graphic media such as etching, photo-lithography, photocopy, silkscreen and so on, I discovered photography as another graphic media that followed the same principle of image reproduction from a single matrix (negative film in analogue photography) and a very wide range of possible variations on the image (contrast variation, image size, cropping, flipping, overlapping, etc). Given the plasticity that the photographic media offered, I kept on working with it, and now after more that 10 years I still do as it seems that the possibilities to continue exploring this media are still vast.

What equipment do you use?
When I started working on photography I used the old fashion analogue equipment: film camera and a darkroom. Digital photography came on pretty fast and it was getting increasingly difficult to get the analogue material, so the practical thing to do was to switch into digital media. Today I have all my old films digitalized so my own image archive is a mix of digital and analogue images, and I use all of them to do new work. Currently my equipment consists of a very basic SLR camera, my computer, a very basic printer to run test prints and some hard drives where I have stored all my image archive.

How would you describe your photography style?
I think that my photographic work is closer to other printing media rather than photography itself. The original shot is not as important as the post-production work, and very little of the original shot is seen in the final work, as I usually manipulate and re-construct the image to a certain point that it becomes something completely different.

I don’t follow the principles of what “good photography” might be, I usually under-expose the shot quite a lot, the framing of the image doesn’t reveal much of the place I’m shooting and I never attempt to capture a “unique moment” as documentary photography does. My work is more about the plasticity of the photographic image from an artistic approach, so my photography style would be something like artistic-plastic-photography.

Surface Tensions

Who/what inspires you?
Many artists inspire my practice, one of them would be Sol LeWitt. His way of thinking on his artworks as a sort of mechanical, formula based system but with a very sensitive and sometimes organic result is definitely very striking and an example of what I wish to accomplish.

Also Gerhard Richter is an inspiration to me in the way he deconstructs painting media, his photographic approach from his painting practice is very interesting, in that he widens the limits of one very specific media.

Surface Tensions

Why is fine art photography important to you?
Photography is important to me as it has become my working device. I have learned to know it, its capabilities and limitations, and found a way to adjust it to my own artistic needs. Fine art photography in general is as important to me as art itself, which for me it is a communication media and a way to express and identify aesthetic problematics.

Surface Tensions

How do you decide which landscapes to photograph?
Photography for me is a device that can translate the 3D world into graphic language within a flat surface. Having this principle in mind, I choose the spaces and objects that once translated into monochrome graphic information, they can become an interesting source of graphic elements -such as lines, perspectives, geometrical forms- that I can work out later to transform these into something else. Rail stations and industrial landscapes happen to fit these requirements, beside being some very interesting places/non-places within the urban context.

Surface Tensions

What’s your favourite aspect about Surface Tensions?
Surface Tensions was the first project where I attempted to include the exhibition space itself -its corners and dimensions- as part of the work. By using the corners, the idea of perspective was exaggerated. I also adjusted the fiction of a large-endless urban space to the whole orthogonal dimensions of the gallery, so you had to walk through the artwork in order to observe it. To have the chance to develop an artwork based on the specific characteristics of a certain space was my favorite aspect of this project, let alone to have the chance to exhibit in such a large space.

Surface Tensions

What do you hope your photographs communicate?
My artwork is a graphic interpretation of urban landscape, and explores the plasticity of the photographic media. Both photography and urban landscape are familiar and accessible to everyone, photographic images today are part of everyone’s life, and urban landscape surrounds everyone living in any city. From this basis, I hope to communicate through my artwork my own particular way of understanding photography as an artistic tool and the subject of urban landscape as a big source of graphic content.

Lines 2 (2010)

How do you source your inspiration?
Inspiration for me works in different ways, sometimes I just have an idea in mind, some sort of re-constructing formula and then I start searching around for an image that would fit this idea. Other times I find a city view or an object to photograph, and it can be years after the picture was taken that I finally find some way to work on it. Also my own previous projects can work as an inspiration source, sometimes I like to revisit my old works and notes, and think about a different direction to re-develop that previous work, then it becomes like an ideas recycling system.

Landscape/Fiction 12 (2010)

What projects are you currently working on?
Currently I’m about to finish a commission for an investment company, which has been very interesting as it demanded a new way of thinking, in that the brief required to produce an artwork based on the image of a particular building in London. I had to do some on-site research, create a new image archive, and think about re-constructing processes that would fit these new images.

It was a big challenge for me as an artist, and I’m very happy with the result. Beside this project, I just have to continue doing artworks, looking for new interesting projects to develop, looking for art competitions, looking for exhibition opportunities, looking for people interested in buying my artworks… nothing different from any other emerging artist I guess!

Where can we see more of your work?
On my website www.snishimura.com, also at www.troikaeditions.co.uk. In London, at the Angel Building lobby (opposite to Angel Station, at St. John street) you can see 2 of my artworks permanently installed.

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