In Conversation with...



#02

石川 直樹 Naoki Ishikawa

Saturday, August 28, from 20:00 JST

For this conversation we  invited the photographer & adventurer Naoki Ishikawa to talk about travel and his creative process. What was it like throughout a year of pandemic, for an artist whose creativity is intrinsically linked to adventure travel in challenging places?

Process, Journey, Analogue, Habituation, Reset, Experience, See-Hear-Touch...



In Response to…


前林明次

今回の石川直樹さんとの会話の要点を時系列的に整理しておきたい。

17歳でインド・ネパールを旅し、さらに「Pole to Pole」では文字通り北極圏から南極まで旅をした。20歳には「水平」から「高低」への極みに挑戦しようとアラスカ・デナリの登頂に成功した。その頃から「旅とカメラ」を両立させるために「写真家」という職業へステップアップしていったと言う。

「23歳に森山大道さんとの出会いがあり、自分は失敗だと考えていた写真が逆に評価された」。その経験から、カメラは眼であり、見たもの全てに反応し撮っていく(スキャンする)スタイルを獲得していった。

アナログカメラ(プラウベル・マキナ)はフィルム1本で10枚しか撮れないが、(エベレストなどの)現場では天候や光の条件を待たず、一回きりの瞬間を躊躇せずに撮っていく。そこに「失敗はない」と言う。固定レンズのみを使い、対象に近づきたいときは自分が寄り、引きたい時は自分が下がる。

写真は、単なる「再現」ではない。自分の感覚や体験が「写真を見る者に追体験され、撮影者の体験が湧き上がり、そこで感覚が一致する」ことが重要なのだ。

しかし写真にはコントロールできない部分がある。最終的には「機械が撮る」し、「機械に任せざるを得ない」。逆説的ではあるが、それは積極的に「偶然性」に自らを開くことでもある。そこには「常に、自意識と客観とのせめぎ合いがある」のだ。

写真集のための編集作業は、撮影とはまた違う「別の旅」をすることになる。そこでは二次的に「変なもの」を発見することになるし、他者の視点を借りて自分が気づいていなかったものに目を向けることもある。

これまで毎年ヒマラヤに出掛け、自分を「リセットする」=「生き直す」ことを心掛けているが、パンデミックの現在ではままならないため、身近なものに目を向けようとしている。カミュの『ペスト』もパンデミックの中で書かれたことをヒントに、最近は渋谷に出かけ、ネズミの生態を観察しながら写真に撮っている。撮影に出かける度に、「街の急速な変化が感じられ驚いている」と言う。

「今やっていることが五十年後にどのような意味をもつのだろうか。ひとつのアーカイブとして今の状況を残したいという衝動がますます高まっている」という。そして「人間は忘れてしまうので、思い出すきっかけとして日記を書くようにしている」と締め括った。

前林明次


James Gibson

This conversation was a long time coming. I first contacted Ishikawa-san nearly two years ago, inviting him to give a talk at One Tree Academy. He agreed and plans were in place until the planet fell into pandemic chaos. In Conversation with… was the perfect opportunity to finally meet him and have that long awaited conversation.

I became interested in Ishikawa-san work and process several years ago when I came across a copy of Too Much Magazine Issue 7 – Work 1. Fascinated by his photographs capturing the Himalayas from a viewpoint rarely seen. They gave me a feeling of “I should visit there and see it for myself”. From that moment I wanted to find a way to meet him and learn more about his choices which lead him to where and who he is now.

That day finally came. Feeling a little nervous and trying to calm our expectations, Maebayashi-san and I were able to ask a few of the questions we had in mind. Joined by students and close friends we talked for two hours, about his initiation into adventure traveling, photography & cameras, where he finds inspiration, his process, and how he resets his body & mind through creativity & journeys to the edges.

I found talking to Ishikawa-san inspiring and insightful so I will try to share a couple of my musings from the conversation.

1. Do less to do more.
Every creative person regardless of genre has choices.

Do I use a digital or analogue (Film) camera or both… which lens should I use, wide angle, telephoto, fixed focal or all… 28mm, 35mm, 50mm or all… 35mm film, medium format, instant or all… should I make a homepage, use instagram, make an edition of prints, make a book or all… etcetera, etcetera?

The choices today are endless, discombobulating and can be paralysing. These choices can distract you from the most important thing, which is to be in the moment. To be present in the presence of what it is you are trying to experience, capture, achieve… to “see, hear and feel”.

Naoki has found his way of removing barriers (choices) between himself, the experience and the creative output by keeping his tools, process and intention as clear and simple as possible. And, not questioning it or comparing it to others. By knowing his strengths, committing and doing less he actually achieves more. Believing in himself and the process, slowly over years (10-20) a body of work accumulated, which has value and meaning. This comes from doing the same thing repeatedly over time. Following trend or fashion does not produce such purposeful work.

2. Find joy in the process.
Naoki talked about how each journey —to the Himalayas— he takes, resets his body & mind. I think this holds a clue for us all. It’s easy to understand how the act of being in natural —or unfamiliar— environments can have a positive physiological & psychological effect —science confirms this. Admitting that these —sometimes arduous— trips are a way to reset himself, show to us that he enjoys them. In other words, he finds joy in the process of creating his work, arguably more than what he receives from the result of the completed work.

If you don’t find joy in the work then you are doing something wrong. This doesn’t mean the work isn’t difficult or laborious. I don’t think climbing Mount Everest to take a few photos was easy for Naoki, nevertheless he found joy in the process, which energised and motivated him to continue to work… to take another step.

The journey is the destination.

I will close by saying how fortunate we were to have shared that time with each other. A few days after our event, Naoki sent me an email saying how much he enjoyed talking to us all and is looking forward to the next time. Reminding us of the importance of shared experience, face-to-face conversation and the development of reciprocal relationships. I am grateful to everyone who participated.

In conversation with…
James


Recomended watching.


「コロナ禍によって見えてきた人類と自然の断絶。再び地球は蘇る」写真家・石川直樹
石川直樹 インタビュー
悪いことばかりではなかった。立ち止まって向き合えた思考の広がり。世界的にロックダウンや自粛を余儀なくされた数ヵ月間、様々なことが一変してしまいました。
そんな中、「悪いことばかりではなかった」と語るのは、写真家の石川直樹氏です。写真家として作品を発表し続けてきましたが、登山家、冒険家、作家など、ひとつの肩書きに留まらない横断的な活動をしています。

The North Face | THE QUEST FOR SURPRISE - Naoki Ishikawa's Traveling and Photography -
Nowadays, if you have any questions you search the web for answers. You quickly read a few lines and get to know about things. But if you really want to know something, it's worth it to see it with your own eyes, listen with your ears and feel with your body so as to understand what is in front of you. The need to be there myself is so strong. The push to travel, down to it's very core to perceive and comprehend this world firsthand. It's a call I can't ignore.

Ama Dablam
Ama Dablam, the mountain known affectionately as “Mother's Necklace.” “Mother” refers to Everest. Standing at 6,856 m (22,493 ft), and towering above the Khumbu region of Nepal, the sherpa does not hesitate in saying that “this mountain is the most beautiful in the world." “I climbed all my way out. I think this intense experience is irreplaceable for anything in my daily life.”

Japanese archipelago Yamaguchi
When I stood on the top of a volcano called Kasayama in the northern part of Yamaguchi Prefecture, I could see the islands floating in the Sea of Japan. Sado and other islands in the Sea of Japan have a strong impression of Hokuriku, and I have never thought that there are so many islands in the Chugoku region. After overlooking the islands floating in the Sea of Japan at Kasayama, I visited Omi Island, where whaling was last carried out around here.


Related links.


Naoki Ishikawa
Homepage - InstagramBooks

Moriyama Daido
Japanese photographer.

Photo Zero Address Shiretoko
「写真ゼロ番地 知床」は、写真家の石川直樹さんと一緒に観光客はもとより、地元の人でさえ気付かなかった新しい知床の一面を写真ワークショップなどを通じて発見、発信するプロジェクトです。

Plaubel Makina
Medium format camera. 

カメラ・オブスクラ
The camera obscura ( Latin : camera obscura , meaning "dark room". Both camera obscura and camera obscura) are important in the history of photography, and the name " camera " comes from the camera obscura.

Oku-Noto Triennale 2020+
A foremost art festival  at the furthest edge of the world. September 4th - October 24th, 2021