Woman Crush Wednesday: Kyoko Hamaguchi
Interview by Hoon Jeon
Project: Observer’s eye
What was the intention of creating the eye observing camera?
Photography, in general, is a tool to record things that we have seen or what we hope we have seen. However, for my art practice, taking photos is not just recording something I see. Rather, I like the challenge of capturing what I cannot see with my own eyes. One thing you never see is the eye of the photographer when the photographer is taking a photo.
How did you create the camera and what are some of its technicalities?
This camera installation can take a photograph of the eye of a photographer and the subject the photographer is taking at the same time. The image of the eye of the photographer is captured by the camera which is facing the photographer through the lens and the viewfinder the photographer looks through. The reverse is true for capturing the subject. Both images are taken simultaneouslyby the release. This sounds a little complicated when I explain how it works, but it’s actually a pretty simple system.
During my initial exploration, I tried with two cameras facing each other and put a lens between them. I was already able to produce an image with that method, but it was hard to see. I changed the distance between the cameras and did a lot of experimentation until I finally found the right distance to capture a clearer image. Although the photos still look blurry, they are actually focused on the focus marks of each camera.
What meaning do the subjects other than the photographer eye have in your work?
I randomly ask passer‐by to take a photo on the street with this camera and usually let them take whatever they want to take because it’s the photographer’s decision. I want to see the moment of the eye when they find their subject.
What do you mean when you say 'take picture of the eye of the photographer'?
As I mentioned before, in those photos, the photographer's eye and the subject they see are both out of focus, but the focus marks of each camera are focused. This element gives the work another layer. The important point is not what we see in those photos but that we see the act of how we see something. So this work is more like visualizing our daily behavior through taking pictures of photographers’ eyes.
Browsing through your website, I saw you have variety of works involving different mediums. How would you say photography is a different from the other mediums?
My work is based on a conceptual practice investigating the boundary between the visible and the invisible. I choose my medium based on what works best for my concept for each project. For me, photography has the capacity to reveal an image of something that exists but that we cannot see.
Women Crush Questionnaire:
1. How would you describe your creative process in one word?
2. If you would teach one, one-hour class on anything, what would it be?
A class about cultivating moss in aquariums.
3. What was the last book you read or film you saw that inspired you?
Ways of Seeing by John Berger
4. What is the most played song in your iTunes Library?
Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Richard Hawley...I repeatedly listen to this song when I take a bus to home at night.
5. How do you take your coffee?
I drink coffee only a few times a week, but recently I have been drinking Senegalese coffee which is a little spicy. I put two and a half spoonfuls of coffee grounds into my French press, pour hot water, wait three minutes, and drink it.
For more information about Kyoko Hamaguchi, click here.