Ito is one of those photographers who just never stop taking pictures. In the age where people worry that too many people take too many photos, Ito lives on like a kindle hidden away from the uncertain gust. Ito has been around for a while, but he hasn’t really been in much limelight. His works many would consider too personal or too abstract, especially considering his subject matter.
Quiet and often unassuming, Ito creates images that are sensitive and ethereal. His photo essay “One Cat, Three Lives” is still one of the best photo essays I’ve seen all year.
The following photographs are images from his two series: “Red Rain” and “A Clueless Spectator”
A Clueless Spectator
I go out and take pictures every day. Nobody paid or asked me to do it. No divine inspiration struck me even once in my life. I am quite boring.
It’s a habit like brushing your teeth or washing the dishes. I photograph almost mechanically, with no hint of emotion. I don’t know whether I get “the shot” because I don’t know what I am after to begin with.
At the end of each day, I throw exposed films into the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. Every few months, I need to develop all these films so that the vegetables can reclaim their space.
When I go to the darkroom to print, I don’t remember most of the pictures simply because it has been a long time since I shot them. I have a strange sensation, as if I were printing from “found” negatives shot by anonymous
Life confounds me. Things do not make sense, and I have the sense that I am a clueless spectator to my own life. Taking pictures doesn’t seem to give me a sense of direction, and I am puzzled as well by my own work.
Soon after shooting memorial concerts on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, my sister called to tell me that our father had died unexpectedly. Two days later, I returned to Japan for the first time in 20 years to attend his funeral. I felt constant vertigo, like I had been violently cut and pasted from New York to Tokyo.
When I arrived, I saw red drops everywhere. I thought it was red rain falling from the sky. It has been said that the day after the atomic bomb was dropped, there was black rain in Hiroshima. Although there was radiation in Tokyo after the Fukushima nuclear fallout last year, there simply isn’t such a thing as red rain.
But even when the sky was clear, I kept seeing red rain, as if a filter was over my eyes.
Two weeks after my father’s funeral, my aunt passed away, so I traveled alone to the Hokuriku region of Japan for her funeral. The red was intensified and the rain seemed to fall harder and harder. At times my emotions were so raw, I couldn’t tell what was real and what was my imagination. But I didn’t even bother — or simply didn’t have any strength left — to figure out what this red rain was and why I saw it, everywhere, all the time.
A week later, the red rain disappeared from my eyes without explanation.
In the middle of November, my girlfriend called me from New York to tell me that she was leaving me. I waited for the red rain to return to blur my vision and alleviate my pain.
It never did.