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Drawing with Light: Tokihiro Sato's Photographs
Tokihiro Sato was born in Japan in 1957, and attended the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music with a specialization in Sculpture. As a student Sato learned how to use large format cameras to document his work, but it was in 1987 that he began to incorporate photography into his sculpture. His first experiments with this merger of the two media consisted of long exposures, in which Sato used flashlights to draw lines of light around his sculptures.
His experimentations excited him and he began to work increasingly in photography and shortly thereafter he pushed his 'light drawings' past sculpture into other media, nature in particular. Sato's technique is simple enough to explain, much harder to accomplish; he uses a large format camera and makes exposures that last anywhere from one to three hours. After he sets up the shot, he navigates the landscape and uses either flashlights or mirrors (to reflect sunlight) directed at the camera to trace lines in the space. Patience and discipline is definitely involved.
His images are beautiful, entrancing, and certainly surreal in my opinion; however, they are also much more than simple lines of light hovering in a landscape. They seem to be timeless, and yet at the same time they seem to record a passage of time. The 'light drawings' are much more than random sparks, swirls, and lines of light thrown into various landscapes; in each the lights left hovering in the images seem to reflect the mood of their respective landscapes. Whether it be tranquil and calm like in #323 Yotsukura or chaotic and reflective of moving across staircases as in #22.