Photography of Motonori Inagaki ーExpectations for the Imagesー

When we attempt to see photographs as paintings, usually we think that they are not paintings because of the flat texture of photographic papers. However when I see Inagaki’s photographs, I see them like paintings or drawings. In either or both cases, it may be based on various preconceptions, but in Inagaki’s works the hand-sense of sketchers pursuing elusive images of form-generation assimilates to the process of photography. So I feel Inagaki’s photographs are like paintings and drawings in spite of the use of photographic technique.
What are depicted in Inagaki’s artworks consist of 3 different genres? The images dimly floating can be seen as nature, daily life and their textures. The beholders may experience the same inquiry as the creator. —What does it mean to draw or take photography? How should they be? How do they relate to the world? It seems that the act of drawing and the process of creation themselves become the theme of artworks.
The inquiry for drawing turns into the continuous drawing in practice. That is the reason that the drawing which is means for plans or subject matter of creation becomes main work in Inagaki’s case. The nature or phenomenon drawn by Inagaki also indicates the nature of drawing at the same time. It is an embodiment of what exists only in the form of processes.
Inagaki’s attitude does not change on photography either. He introspectively traces mechanical process such as light, lens, darkrooms, photographic papers and ink-jet, then inquires what it means to take a picture and develop, and creates a place to appreciate images with the nature of photography as medium. That is to inquire what drawing is as a human act in the process using engineering and chemistry. It is neither the pictorialism from the early 20th century like Edward Steichen nor the purification of modernist photography like Alfred Stieglitz. Inagaki’s photography pursues expectations of the image-creation in the process of depiction like drawings. There the involvement of the hand-sense is even more important theme than images. “Photogenic drawings,” one of the name of photography technique invented by Talbot, peculiarly matches Inagaki’s artworks not in the original meaning.
Rodin, the father of modern sculpture, was fascinated by “Japan, the country of dessin! (Rodin’s words),” left many drawings, and also made drawings on photography to utilize for his creation of sculptures, but he never would have imagined that 100 years later the synthesis of photography and drawings accords with a new era of paintings like Anselm Kiefer. However, as Rodin gave the quality of creation and destruction of drawings to sculptures, he would have deeply agreed that the creation by mechanical photography with a sense of “Japan, the country of dessin!” is realized just by a Japanese artist, Inagaki. For cross-medium creation acts, the invariant hand-sense has to be structured against the change of medium. Also, leaving the sense of drawing in photographic expression may contradict with precise image which is the nature of photography, just like Rodin destroyed sculpture.
Sometimes in Inagaki’s works, there is unusual painterliness obtained only by photographic technique. It is distinguished in his works such as “darkness”. How many melodies exist in the darkness of the photography? And how many shapes? There the new texture of the photography is created.
The monochromatic depiction of landscapes is obscure, sometimes simple, and also fascinating because there is not only stillness but also a hidden avant-gardism as if there the sounds with noise and distortion echo metallically.
When visual experience and creation act are in accordance with the state of image-formation, actual space-time and creative space-time coalesce and create another time of appreciation even in still. Inagaki’s photography permeates beholders’ visions softly by the still formation of the moment when shapes and movements come into being. In photography there is a developing process as a generating process. He recognizes it as parallel as hand-sense. In his strong consciousness for the process including the nature of medium, a gap between the act of trying to leave traces of something and its imperfection turns into phenomenon.
We are captured by the images Inagaki creates because there are expectations for inquiry. We could call it as the expectations for the images. At the same time it is also nostalgia for the moment of when images were created.

Jiro Nagakusa

稲垣元則の写真について ーイメージへの期待ー

描くこと自体への問いは、描き続ける実践というかたちをとる。作品の構想や題材のための手段であるドローイングが、稲垣の場合、メインの作品となる所以である。稲垣の描き出した自然(現象)は、同時に描く行為の自然(本質)を示している。プロセスとしてしかないものの具現化である。 写真においても、稲垣の姿勢は変わらない。光、レンズ、暗室、印画紙、インクジェットなどの機械的プロセスを内省的にたどり、撮影、そして現像することとは何かを問い、写真のメディウムの特性とともにイメージを味わう場を生み出す。言うならば、工学と化学を用いたプロセスにおいて、人間の描く行為=ドローイングとは何かを問うている。20世紀初頭のスタイケンのような写真の絵画主義ではなく、スティーグリッツのようなモダニズム的な写真の純化でもない。ドローイングのような描写のためのプロセスにおける、イメージの生成への期待を追求する稲垣の写真は、イメージ以上にプロセスにおける手の感覚の関与がテーマなのである。タルボットが生み出した写真技術の名前、フォトジェニック・ドローイングは、それとは違う意味で、稲垣の作品に妙に当てはまる。


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