Selected works by Sohei Nishino

Sohei Nishino
Diorama Of New York

2009

Light jet print

172.2 x 134 cm

Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.” Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Sohei Nishino
Diorama Of Paris

2009

Light jet print

135 x 156 cm

If there were a presiding spirit over Nishino’s dioramas, it would have to be Italo Calvino’s Marco Polo, guiding us through Invisible Cities where the imagination takes over the job of urban planning from the rational architects and administrators. If anything, we are over-mapped today. Anyone with a screen can in a matter of seconds hone in on a country, a city, a street, a house, a doorway. It’s magic of a kind, I suppose, but then why does it so quickly wear off? Where is the wonder we feel when looking at medieval maps, when cartographers felt justified in filling terra incognita with imaginary islands and two headed-men?

Sohei Nishino
Diorama Of Tokyo

2009

Light jet print

136.5 x 137 cm

Nishino reinvests cities with wonder (and not incidentally cites 18th-century cartographer Inō Tadataka, who also did his surveys on foot, as an influence). Streets bustle, buildings tilt and sway (perhaps only an earthquake-sensitive Japanese could portray cities perched so precariously on the Earth). The old Cubists would have adored these maps: we look up while looking down; we look down… and see the sky. Nishino’s giddy maps remind us that cities, for all their giddy chaos, are at the core miraculous human achievements.

Text by William A Ewing


Articles

SOHEI NISHINO: HOW THE DIORAMA MAP WAS MADE
28th January 2011, The Telegraph

Sohei Nishino is one of the rising gems of contemporary Japanese photography. Discovered in 2008 by Michael Hoppen, 28 year old Nishino’s extraordinary photographic dioramas, monumental in size, map out the artist’s personal impressions of the world’s major cities in several thousand intimate details.

Nishino’s collages are not precise geographic recreations, but an imperfect mix of landmarks and iconic features conceived from his personal ‘re-experiencing’ of a city. Never before exhibited outside of Asia, Michael Hoppen Contemporary will present the Diorama Map series for his inaugural European show, featuring ten of Nishino’s most striking collages as well as his latest creation: the map of London.

When photographing London, Nishino walked the entire city on foot for a month, wandering the streets and recording from every possible angle, from building tops to get an overview of the Gherkin, to shooting in step with the Queen’s Guard marching on the Mall. In total he used over 300 rolls of black and white film and took over 10,000 pictures.

In the following three months Nishino selected some 4,000 of these photographs, hand printed in his own dark room, which he then meticulously pieced together with scissors and glue in his Tokyo studio. The result was an aerial view of London, which was then reshot as a completed collage to produce a final image in photographic form. This lengthy and painstaking process, all done by hand, only allows for the creation of three maps per year. Nishino’s re-imagination of a city presents a convincing record despite its geographical inaccuracies, a map embodying the intricacies of a city through the eyes and recollection of an outsider.

Source: Telegraph.co.uk


UNREAL CITIES: SOHEI NISHINO’S MAGICAL PHOTOGRAPHIC MAPS OF LONDON, TOKYO AND UTOPIA
24th February, 2011, by Sean O’ Hagan, The Guardian

Japanese photographer Sohei Nishino's dioramas, painstakingly created from thousands of images, take us all on a journey of the imagination
"The photographer is an armed version of the solitary walker," wrote Susan Sontag in On Photography, "reconnoitring, stalking, cruising the urban inferno, the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes." Sontag's "voyeuristic strollers" included Atget, Brassai and WeeGee, all of whom were "not attracted to the city's official realities but to its dark seamy corners, its neglected populations". She could also have mentioned Bill Brandt, an often-solitary wanderer on the night-time streets of wartime London, or Cartier-Bresson, forever in search of the decisive moment, as well as all manner of street photographers, from the frantically obsessive Gary Winogrand to the gently observant Helen Levitt.

Interestingly, Sontag also saw the photographer as a kind of flaneur. "Adept at the joys of watching," she wrote, "connoisseur or empathy, the flaneur finds the world 'picturesque'". The term "flaneur", which originally meant "stroller", "saunterer" and, interestingly, "loafer", was appropriated by the poet Charles Baudelaire, to describe "a person who walks the street in order to experience it". That is certainly what street photographers do, though one wonders if the act of taking a photograph, as well as the photographer's need to be constantly on the look-out for a subject, might come between the walking and the experiencing; might, in fact, run contrary to the meandering spirit of flaneurism (flaneurie?).

One also wonders what Sontag, or indeed Baudelaire, would have made of Sohei Nishino, a young Japanese photographer whose work goes on show for the first time in Britain at the Michael Hoppen gallery next week. Like Winogrand, Nishino is an obsessive, one who relentlessly pounds the streets with a camera. Yet unlike Winogrand, and every other photographer mentioned above, Nishino does not go in search of the city's dark seamy corners or neglected populations. What he does is photograph the city in detail, and then construct a composite map from the thousands of detailed images he has amassed on his wanderings. Thus far, he has recreated 10 cities, including Tokyo, Paris, Istanbul and New York. The end results, which he calls "diorama maps", are both breathtaking in their ambition and disorienting in their oddness.

Last year, Nishino spent a month walking the streets of London – which, come to think of it, does not seem that long a time for the task in hand. He took over 10,000 photographs, which, on his return to Tokyo, he edited down to 4,000. Then the real work began. Having hand-printed the photographs in his own darkroom, Nishino then set about cutting them up and piecing them together – slowly and meticulously – into a giant composite photographic map of the city of London. It measures 7.5ft x 4ft, and will be shown at Michael Hoppen alongside his other diorama maps.

In the meticulous assembling of these photomaps, Nishino creates epic artworks that, despite depicting many familiar icons of modernity and post-modernity – the Empire State building, the Gherkin, the Pompidou Centre – look oddly old-fashioned. He creates what look like medieval or renaissance maps of modern cities. In them, everything is familiar yet oddly disjointed, nothing seems quite in scale and, here and there, whole areas are missing or seem crushed or out-of-proportion. Some of his photographs are taken from above, some from far below. Buildings loom and tilt, as does the terrain, and sometimes a segment of put-together sky appears.

For Nishino, it would seem, the process is the thing. He has paid homage to the great 18th-century Japanese cartographer, Ino Tadataka, who spent 17 years surveying and mapping the coastline of Japan. (The mammoth project was completed by his surveying team after his death.) But Nishino's obsessive cartography is of a different order: fantastical rather than scientific; imaginative rather than literal. "His images are true to form in a sense, and yet incorrect", notes Seiji Komatsu, director of the Emon Photography gallery in Tokyo. "In other words, he is trying to depict an image that comes from within the memory."Nishino's imaginative journey has taken a different turn of late. His recent I-Land project, in which the map is even bigger and in colour, depicts an imaginary Japanese city that echoes Thomas More's Utopia, while simultaneously looking like a future-world from a sci-fi film. Here, old and new photographs are used to create a timeless cityscape that is unreal but oddly familiar. Again, the process has been painstaking and obsessive and the end result, like all Nishino's work, seems to fly in the face of Photoshop and digital manipulation. He is a creator of virtual worlds all the same, but what is important here is not just the end result, but the labour and dedication that underpins it.

"This work required a great deal of my passion and energy and entailed a great deal of financial, physical, and spiritual hardship." Nishino has said of the diorama map series. "After completing it I realised that it grew out of my experiences during a Shikoku 88-temple pilgrimage that I went on alone as my high school graduation trip. The pilgrimage for me meant simply walking the route – I had no particular underlying motivation or goal for doing it. I think the spiritual core of my work came from this experience, and I continuously take pictures to emphasise the spirit of going ever forward."
Nishono is a flaneur, then, but one whose motivation is not just to experience the city he walks though, but to memorise, remap and re-imagine it. His composite photographic map of London portrays a city both real and unreal, recognisable but alien. A city you can get lost in all over again.

Source: guardian.co.uk


WATCH AS SOHEI NISHINO, EXHIBITING AT MICHAEL HOPPEN THIS MONTH, CREATES HIS FANTASTICAL MAP OF LONDON
January 2011, video by Yohei Kogi, The Telegraph

Sohei Nishino is one of the rising gems of contemporary Japanese photography. Discovered in 2008 by Michael Hoppen, 28 year old Nishino’s extraordinary photographic dioramas, monumental in size, map out the artist’s personal impressions of the world’s major cities in several thousand intimate details.
Nishino’s collages are not precise geographic recreations, but an imperfect mix of landmarks and iconic features conceived from his personal ‘re-experiencing’ of a city. Never before exhibited outside of Asia, Michael Hoppen Contemporary will present the Diorama Map series for his inaugural European show, featuring ten of Nishino’s most striking collages as well as his latest creation: the map of London.
When photographing London, Nishino walked the entire city on foot for a month, wandering the streets and recording from every possible angle, from building tops to get an overview of the Gherkin, to shooting in step with the Queen’s Guard marching on the Mall. In total he used over 300 rolls of black and white film and took over 10,000 pictures.
In the following three months Nishino selected some 4,000 of these photographs, hand printed in his own dark room, which he then meticulously pieced together with scissors and glue in his Tokyo studio. The result was an aerial view of London, which was then reshot as a completed collage to produce a final image in photographic form. This lengthy and painstaking process, all done by hand, only allows for the creation of three maps per year. Nishino’s re-imagination of a city presents a convincing record despite its geographical inaccuracies, a map embodying the intricacies of a city through the eyes and recollection of an outsider.
Nishino’s process began during a portfolio review when studying at Osaka University of Arts, when he realised he was far more interested in the mass of photographs not selected, than the few that were actually chosen to be displayed. For him, the whole selection was more of a true representation than the refined final edit of one photograph. This, together with his love of walking and the influence of 18th Century Japanese cartographer and surveyor Inō Tadataka, led to Nishino’s creation of the first diorama map of his hometown of Osaka.
In addition to the Diorama Maps, Nishino has also created two colour works using the same process, ‘i-LAND’ and ‘Night’. These collages are composites of images taken in multiple Japanese cities, photographed and recreated in the studio as fantastical urban landscapes.
In 2005, Nishino received the top award in the Canon New Cosmos of Photography competition for his first five Diorama Maps. Since then his work has continued to receive critical acclaim, particularly for appearances at this year’s Hong Kong International Art Fair, Seoul Photo and South Korea’s Daegu Photo Biennale.

Source: Telegraph.co.uk