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Working from a Zen philosophy of "emptiness", Japanese photographer, Masao Yamamoto's images are essentially vignettes of nature and our intersection with it, ruminating over the passage of time and memory. His finished prints are miniature treasures--averaging 3 x 5 inches and smaller--that are toned, stained, torn, marked, rubbed and creased. One has an experience of looking at a group of found vintage photographs, telling a familiar and unique story.
Trained as a painter, Masao Yamamoto has been a free-lance photographer since 1975. Of all the images he has taken, none has a discreet identity in terms of title; each piece is numbered but part of a continuous series. Like a community, the images are independent of one another but at the same time part of a collective. Yamamoto's series began in 1993 as "A Box of Ku"--ku meaning "emptiness" in Japanese--and currently continues under the title "Nakazora," which has an even more enigmatic definition (a Buddhist term): The space between sky and earth, the place where birds, etc. fly. Empty air. Mid-air. An internal hollow. Vague. Hollow. Around the center of the sky. Or, emptiness. A state when the feet do not touch the ground. Inattentiveness. The inability to decide between two things. Midway. The center of the sky (the zenith).
Yamamoto's work, whether one is viewing a singular image or a grouping of images, is not evolutionary, nor a progression. These visual jewels are instead about the day-to-day; the ordinaire; things that are and those that were. While Yamamoto's lyrical photographs stem from documentation, they evoke a sense of memory, latent or vivid. And beyond that, they are objects; their preciousness as prints is dispelled by the rough end product. These photographs are ultimately existential artifacts.