Masao Yamamoto
Minimal Photography that Honors Nature

Text: Florencia Serrot
Photos: Masao Yamamoto

The photos of the Japanese Masao Yamamotos are like visual Haikus brought into a film still. His reverence for nature and minimalism has been a great inspiration at SmartVolta for years. His exhibitions are all small prints or huge ones that require attention and quietness to observe and enjoy.
If Zen could embrace itself into a photographer, for sure would be embodied into Masao and his body of stunning work.



Here is a little text the artist himself wrote for his latest series called Shikuza ( Cleanse).

“Living in the forest, I feel the presence of many “treasures” breathing quietly in nature.
I call this presence, “Shizuka.”
“Shizuka” means cleansed, pure, clear, and untainted.
I walk around the forest and harvest my “Shizuka” treasures from the soil. I try to catch the faint light radiated by these treasures with both my eyes and my camera.
Tao Te Ching, an ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu, wrote, “A great presence is hard to see. A great sound is hard to hear. A great figure has no form.”
He means that the world is full of noises that we humans are not capable of hearing. For example, we cannot hear the noises created by the movement of the universe. Although these sounds exist, we ignore them altogether and act as if only what we can hear exists. Lao-tzu teaches us to humbly accept that we only play a small part in the grand scheme of the universe.
I feel connected to his words. I have always sensed that there is something precious in nature. I believe that something very vague and large might exist beyond the small things I can feel. This is why I started collecting “Shizuka” treasures.
“Shizuka” transmits itself through the delicate movement of air, the smell of the earth, the faint noises of the environment, and rays of light. “Shizuka” sends messages to all five of my senses.
Capturing light is the essence of photography. I am convinced more than ever that photography was created when humans wished to capture light.
I hope you will enjoy “Shizuka,” the treasures of the forest, through my photographs. “