Hideo Takiura began his adult life not as a photographer but as a landscape designer. I don’t know much about this somewhat esoteric profession but it’s hard not to wonder how shaping the earth has ended up shaping Takiura the photographer. At the very least, these two vocations share the need to take a wild, amorphous nature and confine it within a defined, artificial frame. And if we are talking about frames, it strikes me that of all the various film formats, Takiura’s chosen format for his “Tokyo Bodies” series, the 6cm x 6cm square, represents the most artificial, self-conscious type of confinement a photographer can choose.
We have been conditioned for so long to see in rectangle that its frame lines have become second nature. But the square forces us to acknowledge the frame, and to acknowledge that what is presented in that confined space, like the manicured landscape, is only that which the artist wants us to see. This is not to say that we are left with mere contrivance, however. This is what is so charming about Takiura’s work — on the streets of Tokyo, there’s only so much trimming and pruning one can do. Takiura’s subjects are confined to their frames, but they are also fighting against them (and occasionally hiding behind them, or even stuck in them). Fanciful as it may be, I like to imagine that the reason Takiura traded in his shears for a Rolleiflex is because in the wild city streets of Tokyo, these trees talk back.
Signed copies of Takiura’s self-published book, Tokyo Bodies, are available in the Japan Exposures bookstore.