Hiroyuki Ito is a Japanese photographer based in New York. A frequentcontributor, covering performance-artsevents, his work can be regularly seen in the New York Times. Ito’s eyes are always wandering — capturing moments around him. A prolific artist, Hiro compiles his archive of strikingimages into books.
Last year, Ito traveled across Japan, and Hokkaido was one of his stops in his journey.
What brought you to Hokkaido in 2016?
Hokkaido, to the Japanese, is like the Wild West to the American. It has a fascinating mixture of history and mythology. I had only been to the southern entry point of Hakodate and the remote island Okushiri previously, so with this trip I wanted to explore Hokkaido more thoroughly.
How long did it take you to complete the series?
I noticed that you created two separate books for “Hokkaido” and “Japan” — why have you decided that Hokkaido warrants as a separate body of work from your “Japan” work?
In my first book “Red Rain (2012)” that depicted my return to Japan for the first time in 20 years, I was looking at Japan as if I were from another planet. In the book “Japan (2015),” I traveled all over the country as if I were an American tourist. The distance between me and Japan has narrowed gradually over the years. In the book “Hokkaido (2016),” I was looking at Hokkaido through the eye of a Tokyoite. I don’t necessarily think they are separate works but they were made into separate books because they were shot in different time periods.
You have continued to publish your work in book form over the years, what is your motivation? How does the book format affect your work?
Taking pictures is like writing a nonsensical one-liner on a piece of paper and throwing them in a plastic bag. You keep doing that and once the bag is full, you need to pull up these pieces of paper at random and organize them. Actually I don’t organize them — pictures refuse to listen to my ‘direction’ and they go wherever they please — I try to stay out of their way. Then you have a book.
You photograph mostly in black and white, what do you try to achieve by shooting in black and white?
Black and white photography, to me, is like a quick pencil drawing. I am not trying to create a major piece of art by expressing big ideas — I just draw lines of something that catches my eye for whatever the reason. I like it because it’s simple and less egomaniac.
How long do you usually take to compile photographs into a book?
2 to 3 months.
Are you currently working on another series?
This Feature is part of COLLECTION #01: “IN THE CITY”