Koichi Nishiyama 

Going Blank Again #2  

Going Blank Again #2

About the artist

Photographer Koichi Nishiyama is based in Tokyo; his work explores Japan’s modern landscapes. His images are often “marked” with the scars humankind has left on the earth. The land he shows has been tilled, its nature transformed, yet his landscapes do not express chaos, but rather a form of peacefulness. Nishiyama’s determination to compose and distribute colours within his frames seems to soothe the gaping wounds of the earth; his photography transforms desolate landscapes into objects of contemplation.


What common thread runs through the images in your series Going Blank Again?
The photographs in the series are all landscapes shot on the outskirts of Tokyo and other Japanese cities, with no one in them, and always with an empty foreground.
What unites these images is the feeling of absence or loss that you can feel in a landscape. I would probably say that’s the real subject of this series.
Loss is a subject that has long been addressed by many artists and photographers: Going Blank Again fits into this pattern as a reflection of modern Japan.

You live in Tokyo. The landscapes you shoot contrast sharply with the densely-built megalopolis. Where are they located? Do you stumble upon them by chance, or are they researched?
A few years back, I moved out of central Tokyo to the suburbs. After the move, I started to photograph my day-to-day surroundings with a digital camera. As I was shooting, I gradually identified the common thread we were discussing earlier, and the series became obvious. I then started using Google Earth to spot fields around Tokyo that could be reached by train.
The history of Japanese photography includes a tradition of “stray” photography in which the photographer, like a dog, wanders around and sniffs out.
Another approach of photography focuses on a concept, theme and so on: it’s a form of photography that’s more intellectualised upstream of the process.
Both styles may seem incompatible, but I’m interested in both.

Are you interested in the history of these patches of land, the reasons for their change? Do you go back there to monitor and document their evolution?
I’m actually not really interested in the documentary dimension. Architectural styles are very similar across the whole of Japan, apart from Hokkaido. All recent Japanese cities look very much alike, so changes in the landscape are not really evident. In the suburbs, where I take my pictures, there’s always a big supermarket; on Sundays, a long queue of cars forms in front. The same phenomenon occurs all over the world, or almost. These aspects do not interest me; I’m also not trying to criticize the current look of suburbia. I’m not trying to create a record of archetypal suburban landscapes: what I’m looking for is a more discreet, intimate landscape.

The title of your series - Going Blank Again - suggests notions of emptiness. Is confronting these landscapes also a way for you to clear your mind, to “let go”? In other words, is your quest for minimalist, unpolished territories a way to find a space for you to project your inner world onto?
I really try not to think about the complicated aspects of life, like children (although kids probably do!). It’s true to say that my desire to escape drives my photographic work. In the suburbs of Tokyo or other cities, there are few landscapes that inspire abandonment. This is my artistic quest: the search for emptiness in landscape.
And yes, it’s true that artists always project their inner world in their work. I choose to photograph a landscape because it triggers something in me when I see it, and then there’s always what you discover after shooting, the chance element that makes a medium such as photography so rich.
What I perceive - or not - in a landscape is connected to my personal history. I started Going Blank Again at the same time as another series, Nowhere. What underlies both is the loss of a forest that bordered the house in Yokohama (a suburb of Tokyo) where I lived as a child: it was what connected the outside world to my inner world. Around the time when I started elementary school, the forest was razed to make way for a road. I grew up watching this destruction process. Time has passed since these days, but I know that when I’m out there looking for an empty landscape on the outskirts of a big city, I sometimes superimpose the real landscape in front of me and the one in my mind.
A camera captures nothing more than the light: it is an illusion on a flat paper surface. I’m aware of the medium’s limitations, but even so, photography is what allows me to restore a form of intimacy with the world.
Image after image, I am reconstructing a lost world. And that’s why I continue to photograph.

Limited edition, numbered and signed.

Selected shows and awards

XX, Art Trace Gallery, 2015
Strawberry Wine, Gallery 10:06, 2014
Pink Orange Red, Gallery Raven, 2013
Multifold, Art Trace Gallery, Tokyo, 2012
Planarity, Gallery DEN, 2012
FotoNoviembre, Atlántica Colectivas International Photo Festival, Tenerife, Spain, 2011
Going Blank Again, Art Trace Gallery, Tokyo, 2010
Nowhere, Gallery Kobou CHIKA,Tokyo, 2010
5 visions of 5 photographers, Gallery21, Tokyo, 2010
Nagameru Manazasu, Upfield-gallery,Tokyo, 2010

Selected publications


& order

Koichi Nishiyama 
Going Blank Again #2


Technical information

Digital Lambda c-print on satin paper - limited edition, numbered and signed certificate.


26,5 x 39,5 cm, Edition of 100 200.00 €

By the same artist

Koichi Nishiyama

By the same curator