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A Meditative Photo Series Shows Tokyo’s Loneliest Moments

Yota Yoshida’s contemplative images are far from what you’d expect from the most populous metropolitan area in the world.

Time is an indispensable attribute of photography, from the literal shutter speed through which an image is created, to legendary photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson's concept of the "decisive moment." Yota Yoshida, a street photographer hailing from Tokyo, takes ideas of time and temporality to metaphysical heights in his new photographic series, from somewhere, to elsewhere.

Inspired by Jorge Luis Borges, Paul Gauguin, and ideas of life's circularity derived from Buddhism, the series revolves around three separate perceptions of time: yours (as the viewer), the photographer's, and his subjects'. "Those pictured in the photos, me as I write this, and you who are looking at the photographs all exist right now in our own respective times," Yoshida tells Creators. "To me, 'you' are the future, the presence of which I can only imagine. You probably sense the photographic subjects and me living in different times. The series is also a letter from myself and them to you, who are 'elsewhere' in this story."

While Tokyo is typically known for its overstimulating lights and overabundance of human life, Yoshida transforms the sprawling metropolis into a story of suburban loneliness. Elderly men gaze longingly out of building windows, enjoy somber picnics by themselves, and gesticulate madly on a park bench. Passengers on the subway look like defeated specters of city life, slouched and hopeless. Sparse smatterings of people in large urban settings are almost apocalyptically forlorn. Even dogs and horses are transformed into strange embodiments of manic depression and anxiety, as if they inherit the human tendency to overthink.

Throughout the entire series of over 30 images, eye contact between subject and viewer is only made on two occasions; every other moment glances are averted or preoccupied. Although most of Yoshida's subjects are adults, the only two gazing back at the viewer are young boys separated by glass barriers.

"I felt my childhood gaze from their own gaze," the photographer explains. "They embody a variety of emotions concerned with the flow of time from a distant past, like the feeling of loneliness when I was small. I thought that these two photos, which are at the start of the series, will allow viewers to contemplate hidden stories that have already begun before viewing the images."

"I'm interested in the relationship caused by line of sight, rather than the feeling of tension caused by photographs of eye contact," Yoshida adds. "I think that relationships arising from who is watching what, and who is not seeing anything at all, are very important."

View from somewhere, to elsewhere and photography by Yota Yoshida on the artist's website.

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