top コラムExhibition ReportVol.05 Tomona Hayashi "Fragment light" 林朋奈「フラグメントライト」 @サードディストリクトギャラリー

Exhibition Report

Vol.05 Tomona Hayashi "Fragment light"

John Sypal

I’ve been a fan of Tomona Hayashi’s work for years now. She’s a member of the Shinjuku-located artist-run space 3rd District Gallery and her regular exhibitions have offered a chance to see the development of an artist in real time. Hayahsi, who once studied under Shinya Arimoto, started out exhibiting several series of wonderful monochrome, personal snapshots- a mixture between street snaps and the diaristic sort of pictures that are celebrated in Japan.  As some point in the past two years, I noticed that I was seeing her less with her well-worn Konica Hexar AF around her neck and in its place, she had a Contax SLR.  The Hexar, a compact auto-focus compact camera, and her SLR both have 35mm lenses, but I feel that the SLR’s capability to focus closer to objects has influenced her photographic path.


That path is way-pointed by her pictures- each one no doubt made when she feels or creates a spark when snapping the shutter. But while people and objects are often recognizable in her pictures, the ultimate subject of her work is light itself.

Obviously, in a very elemental way, all photographs deal with light. That’s their nature.

But her appreciation of light goes beyond using it as a tool used to clearly describe or aesthetically enhance a subject. The closer-focus capabilities of her Contax has, I think, allowed her to be drawn closer to how sunlight looks laid across a particular surface, be it water or a face. Being able to get closer, she’s taken her work to a different level, a place where the glimmer or refraction of a burst of light is not an element of the picture but it IS the picture.



Cameras aside, this show proved that, as always, her photographs have a reverberation to them. Sure, this is due to the quality of light she’s interested in, but also because each image she makes isn’t the result of a planned idea but rather beautiful evidence of her reaction to a distinct, fleeting moment. Like the best photographers, Hayashi’s work is a response to what’s in front of her at a particular instance. I’ve seen her snap pictures- she does it with a pounce, a leap, a laugh. Rather than laboring to frame something “right”, she understands that if something in a moment compels you to take a picture, thebest way, maybe the only way, to do so is to directly snap that very view which sparked that feeling.

Her method (That Contax SLR & Kodak color film) and personality (fantastic) result in pictures that can be lined-up / paired-up in any way and still work perfectly together. Despite her common tools her pictures are completely hers.  This is because she has interest and confidence in, and acceptance of- her particular vision of the world. The opposite and far more common approach to photography is to manufacture a vision based on what one thinks photos should be like- to be liked.  That’s brutally boring. Hayashi is infinitely interesting. 


If an encounter with a work of art creates a spark- or makes you look at life afterwards a little differently, it’s worth keeping in mind. Hayashi’s work has this effect on me, anyway. The responsibility of the viewer isn’t to try and determine the intention of an artist- Hayashi says she has nothing to say- so it’s up to you as a viewer to figure out what things mean to you.

The responsibility of the artist- perhaps the only responsibility- is to keep on working. I’m glad that Hayashi keeps on making pictures and I hope to see her work collected in a book someday.

















林さんは「正しい」写真を撮ろうと努力するのではなく、もしその瞬間に何か写真を撮りたくなったら、その気持ちを呼び起こした景色を直接スナップするのが一番いい方法、もしかしたら唯一の方法だと理解しているのです。写真に対する一般的なアプローチは、「写真はこうあるべきだ」「気に入られるために」といったことに基づいてビジョンを作り上げていますが、 それではつまらない。林さんは限りなく面白いです。






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