Shimizu Ken is a young Japanese photographer based in Tokyo, famous for his captivating urban cityscapes. Eleven Magazine met up with Mr Shimizu at the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2016, where he was presenting one of his latest works as part of the Time Space Existence exhibition. In this exclusive interview with Eleven, Shimizu Ken discusses his work “T’. copied. reversed” and tells us about his photography passions, giving us a precious insight into the mind of one of Japan’s hottest photography talents.


Shimizu Ken on ‘T’. copied. reversed’:

“For this work I photographed an image constructed of photographs. I placed multiple prints on a table that combined together created one large image. I then set up the camera from the opposing angle to create a perspective reversed.

Image on the right hand side of “T’. copied. reversed”. © SHIMIZU KEN

It was like a scenery viewed from an observatory but like a model of a city, flattened. While I was facing the photographs, I suddenly felt drawn into the photographs and lost between the reality and the image. Then I decided to place the camera in an unusual position to separate the perspective constructed from my viewpoint and the perspective constructed in the image formed from the combined prints.

As a pair the photographs are positioned close together to form the visual impression of a continuous landscape. To the viewer it appears as if one image is a copy of the other and turned upside down. If this is true which is the original? Which is a truer reproduction of reality?”

Installation view of the exhibition “TIME-SPACE-EXISTENCE” at Palazzo Mora, as part of the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale, Venice, 2016. Photo © SHIMIZU KEN.
“T’. copied. reversed” (2016) Chromogenic prints with Diasec, 127cm x 161cm (344.2cm, two photographs including 22.2cm gap in between). © SHIMIZU KEN. Courtesy of the artist.

Shimizu Ken on His Photography:

“There is something attractive about the space between things. I use photographs to visualize images floating ‘in between’. The hypothetical phrase What if it can be seen as…? Starts me on this quest. I am curious to see what images will result from conducting these experiments. I follow this line of thinking where it leads. I then look for clues in the images to my questions. I hope to discover something beyond my imagination and language construct.

“Shadows under the surface” (2015) © SHIMIZU KEN
“Shadows under the surface” (2015) © SHIMIZU KEN

I am interested in the relationship between a city as a combined mass and the subconscious construct behind it. When I returned to Japan from Australia, I decided to spend the next decade considering the character of Tokyo through my photography. Now it has almost been a decade, so this new work “T’. copied. reversed.” may be considered a kind of understanding of the city from my photographic research.”

“Code tokyo” (2008) © SHIMIZU KEN
“Code tokyo” (2008) © SHIMIZU KEN

About the Photographer:

Shimizu Ken is an award winning photographer born in 1981 in Yokohama, Japan. In 2006 he completed his Bachelor of Arts in Photography at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia. Today, he lives in Tokyo. He has been working as a freelance photographer since 2008, and decides his time working on both his own projects and assignments requested by architects.

His work has most recently been showcased in the exhibition ‘Time Space Existence’ as part of the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2016.