"NEW PLANET PHOTO CITY - William Klein and Photographers Living in the 22nd Century -"



Director's Message

Perhaps photos have already transcended the scale of the earth and become like a new star. A collection of countless photos that has become nebulous covers all around the earth like another planet. Soon two centuries will have passed since photos appeared, but there are now an astronomical number of photos that were created during this period, and in particular since the end of the 20th century when there was a chain of innovations in digital technology, networks, and media, their enormous image has now become a granulated zone (sphere), and it is as if they were creating another dimension recording all of the scenery on the earth.

This exhibition shows the photos of leading 20th century photographer William Klein as a departure point and attempts to present metamorphoses in the vision of cities from the 20th century to the 21st century using unprecedented dynamic photo display methods.

Klein achieved a shocking debut in 1956 with the photo collection New York, and subsequently he radiated a series of provocative images while running through the world from Moscow to Tokyo, Rome, and Paris... Furthermore, he is a superstar who went beyond photography to encompass genres such as movies, paintings, design, and fashion and have a decisive influence on modern visual culture.

The catalyst for this exhibition was that I wanted to contrast the ambitious attempts of young Japanese and Asian artists to examine cities and people in the 21st century and transcend the boundaries of photography, with the photos of the energetic Klein at the center.

If we retrace the footsteps of Klein, we understand that his trajectory was an enormous testing ground for images. He repeatedly carried out a variety of visual experiments, including the early development of blurred, out-of-focus and rough images, dramatic new combinations of typography and images, collages that bring to the surface the unfathomed power of cities, the fusion of photos with walls and architecture, and photos suspended in glass. This seems like commonplace development now but I think that the many trials that Klein at that time challenged himself to undertake in confrontation with the age are worthy of rediscovery now in particular, an era of images that swing wildly in the space between materiality and immateriality.

As the late Mr. Koji Taki, a philosopher who represented Japan, pointed out, the photos of Klein "are not works of art; they show 'the concepts of photos.' That is why they are always new."

I think the young Japanese and Asian artists in this exhibition each have their own imagination and creativity while inheriting the memory and adventure of the photos of Klein. Their multifaceted expressive world is the small planet each of which is active, and it contains a life force that breaks down the homogeneity of modern visual communication.

Klein's New York was originally rejected by all of the publishing companies in the United States, but accomplished movie director Chris Marker, who was doing the editing and photography for a series of travel books called Petite Planète (Small Planet) at the Éditions du Seuil publisher in Paris, went as far as to declare that if he could not publish this photo collection he would have quit the publishing company, so eventually the collection was able to see the light of day.

Klein said "when I go out into the city holding a camera, everything excites me," and I hope to feel the blinking and breathing of the 22nd century cities hidden in the collection of these small planets while casting my thoughts to the future of photography.

Toshiharu Ito


Toshiharu Ito

Ito was a professor in the Faculty of Art and Design, Tama Art University and currently he is a professor in the Department of Intermedia Art, Faculty of Fine Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts. He has been involved in many art, education, and social activities, including establishment, planning and operation of Tokyo Creative Corp., a design network for exchanges among different industries; the planning and operation of Osaka Inter Medium Institute, a practical educational institution for the integration of different cultures and joint creation; and direction of the city-creation-type workshop studio/Tokyo Architecture and Design (ADD) Studio, and has served as a member of The Japan Foundation International Exhibition Committee, a member of the Agency for Cultural Affairs Japan Arts Fund Review Committee, a member of the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum Planning and Operation Committee, a member of the Kawasaki City Museum Collection Committee, a member of the Sagamihara City Photographic Art Festival Special Steering Committee, a member of the Saito International Culture City Planning Committee, a member of the Yomiuri Shimbun Reading Committee, a member of the NTT Intercommunication Center Committee, Chief Director of the Osaka Inter Medium Institute courses, Director of the Tokyo ADD Studio, Chair of the 2005 Japan World Exposition Design Committee, etc.
He has authored many books, most notably Shashin-Toshi ('Photo Cities,' Fuyukisha), Nijusseiki-shashin-shi ('The History of 20th Century Photography,' Chikuma Shobo), Jiorama-ron ('Diorama Theory,' Libroport), Nijusseiki-Imēji-Kōkogaku ('The Iconography of 20th Century,' The Asahi Shimbun Company), Denshi-Bijutsu-ron ('The Theory of Electronic Art,' NTT Publishing), Jōhō-Eizōgaku-Nyūmon ('Introduction to Information and Image Studies,' Ohm, Inc.), and Jōhō-Medhia-gaku-Nyūmon ('Introduction to Information and Media Studies,' Ohm, Inc.).