Exhibition of Work by Satoshi Shimada


A poetic expression of Japanese traditional colors in 216 digital photos

How many colors can you tell? How many colors can you paint?

Japanese ancestors were very creative in telling the nature by naming colors. It is probably because very rich variations of landscape, seasons, weathers, and living things of the country had stimulated them. They have left a set of some 500 names for color, with extraordinary imaginations to express subtle tones, tastes, and messages behind each color.

Such colors can still be found many where in our surroundings as Mr. Shimada revealed in his photo diary called "I-RO-HA-NI-HO-HE-TO". It must be fascinating for you to share with the ancestors of Japan the pleasure of discovering the paintings by the nature, enjoying the harmony of colors and sounds, and their changes over hours, days and a year.

"I-RO-HA-NI-HO-HE-TO" is an alphabet of Japanese in old days. It was actually a poem, which is said be a work of a famous Buddhist priest KuhKai in the 8th century. Using all 48 letters but without duplication, KuhKai profoundly expressed the nature of life and world, using a metaphor of colors. Mr. Shimada successfully introduced a touch of profoundness we can discover in the nature.

Mr. Shimada's photo album "I-RO-HA-NI-HO-HE-TO" started on 2001/9/10 and ended 2002/9/10. Everyday except holidays, he took a new photo (color) and put it on his web site. He considers that a work like this can be compared to daily practice or exercise of a pianist, a violinist, an athlete or a boxer.

The work is composed of digital-photos, each accompanied with a short note like a poem or literature. It is difficult to precisely translate the nuance of the note, which refers to polished Japanese old culture, into Spanish or any language. But you need not worry about this too much. What is most important is something you can feel from the photos, as people may read different message from a scene in the nature. Mr. Shimada chose a name of Japanese traditional color (out of 500 different names) as the title of each photo to describe the atmosphere that
the photo presents. This photo series, together with his previous work, can be seen on his web site (http:/www.3to4.com).

It must be a pleasant surprise to know that the cameras Mr. Shimada used were nothing special but for ordinary consumers. He intentionally chose them for two reasons. First, that a digital camera enables him to process photos to put to the web sites quicker than an analogous camera does. This is a critical merit for a type of work which must be done every day! Second, he tried to withdraw the maximum capacity, and even more, of a digital camera. In some cases, he used a loupe to overcome the limitation of the camera in taking a picture of a subject with a very limited distance. With his outstanding skills and inspiration, Mr. Shimada has proved that an ordinal, handy and easy-to-use digital camera can make a real good job.