Naoya Hatakeyama

Maquettes/Light #1928

1995, printed 2012

Not on display

Naoya Hatakeyama born 1958
Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper and transparency on lightbox
Object: 438 × 348 × 35 mm
Purchased with assistance from the Tate Americas Foundation, courtesy of an anonymous donor 2014


This is one of twenty works in Tate’s collection from Naoya Hatakeyama’s Maquettes/Light 1995, a series which reveals the artist’s dual interests in the formal possibilities of photography and in the architecture of the built environment. Taken in Tokyo at night time, the images depict the various light sources that illuminate the city after dark: rows of fluorescent lights on ceiling panels and in the stairwells of open-plan high-rise offices and apartment buildings; strip lighting that forms an abstract pattern or horizontal lines, sometimes reflected in water; or the single spot of a street lamp. Some are shot at a distance, capturing the light cast down onto the street and objects below, while in others the surroundings are cropped, abstracting the repetitive and ordered structure of the lights and architectural forms and underlining the serial nature of the compositions. Each image in the series has been produced as a gelatin silver print and a black and white transparency; the transparency is attached to the back of the print and the two layers are then placed with a protective UV filter onto a lightbox for display. Although the photographs were shot in 1995, it was not until 2009 that Hatakeyama arrived at this solution for displaying the works. In using the additional transparency rather than just the original print, he found that light could be emitted through the white areas of the city lights to create an illuminating effect, without loss of density and richness in the dark areas of the print. The series exists in an edition of ten; Tate’s works are number nine in the edition and were printed in 2012.

In 1984, after completing graduate studies under the renowned Japanese avant-garde photographer Kiyoji Otsuji (1923–2001) at the University of Tsukuba, Hatakeyama moved to Tokyo. In the transition from the open spaces of Iwate Prefecture (where he grew up) and Ibakari Prefecture (where he studied) to the metropolis, he experienced what he has described as a ‘rift between my mind and my body’ (quoted in Philips and Fuku 2008, p.31). Speaking of his early practice he has said that ‘it wasn’t a desire to photograph particular objects or places that drew me to photography. It was the nature of the medium itself that piqued my interest.’ (Ibid., p.32.) Since this time, however, his practice has shifted away from a focus only on formal investigations informed by minimalism, semiotics and media theory, to one that incorporates the objects of his surroundings. In photographing landscapes as diverse as Iwate’s limestone quarries (Lime Hill [Quarry Series] 1986–90, see Tate P13025P13034), the underground spaces of Tokyo and Paris (Underground / River 1999 and Ciel Tombé, 2007) and the streets of Milton Keynes, England, as viewed from windows (Soft Glass 2001), Hatakeyama has developed a body of work concerned with the human relationship to the urban and natural environment. Critic and curator Andrew Maerkle has written of his works:

Although they rarely feature people, the photographs of Naoya Hatakayama often evoke the grand narrative of humanity’s interaction with the environment … It is apparent that for Hatakeyama, the environment is the artefact – inscribed with traces of our actions and the values and necessities that motivate them, – and photography, larger than life, is the means for reading it as such.
(Maerkle 2010, accessed November 2013.)

The complete set of Maquettes/Light was first exhibited in 2009 at the photography festival Les Rencontres d’Arles; works from the series have since been exhibited at institutions including the Canadian Center for Architecture, Montreal and The Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura & Hayama, Japan.

Further reading
Pedro J Vicente Mullor, A Window with (a) View. Naoya Hatakeyama, Slow Glass, 2001, accessed November 2013.
Christopher Philips and Noriko Fuku, Heavy Light: Recent Photography and Video from Japan, New York 2008, pp.30–40.
Andrew Maerkle, A Subjective History of Photography Before and After Literature, Art iT,, 2010, accessed November 2013.

Emma Lewis
November 2013

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