Training his lens on his everyday surroundings, Yoshinori Mizutani has a knack for elevating the mundane to the extraordinary – and nowhere is this clearer than on his Instagram feed. Here, the artist’s daily snapshots – which typically combine vivid colour, impressive shadow play, precise cropping and a satisfying sense of symmetry – regularly attract flurries of likes from his already considerable online following.
Now based in Tokyo, where he attended the Tokyo College of Photography, a number of Mizutani’s previous projects have focused their attention on his city of residence. The Rain series depicts Tokyo’s commuters making their way to work via the city’s famed pedestrian crossings; their identities concealed by colourful clusters of umbrellas. Elsewhere, Tokyo Parrots – surely the artist’s best-known project to date – follows a colony of escaped domestic parakeets that now continue to inhabit pockets of the Japanese capital.
With its startling flash and vibrant blues and greens, the latter circulated widely, catching the eye of the renowned Japanese fashion house, Issey Miyake. An experimental collaboration soon followed, with Mizutani’s otherworldly images emblazoned across the garments of a surprising spring/summer collection for Issey Miyake Men in 2016.
Mizutani’s most recent HDR_nature project represents something of a new approach in its focus on the potential of the technology embedded within his digital camera – an idea that first emerged in error. ‘I was test shooting using a technique known as HDR and made a mistake – I looked through the viewfinder and pushed the shutter but my hand shook. As a result, my camera created an image which I hadn’t expected. The outcome reminded me that the camera can create unknown images from a world beyond our senses.’
The natural world – another recurring subject in Mizutani’s work, and one that reconnects the artist with a childhood spent in the countryside – provides a familiar backdrop for his investigations in HDR_nature. Although its constituent images bear close resemblance to swathes of recent projects employing various digital post-production techniques, Mizutani’s process is quite different. Deliberately shaking his camera when shooting, its built-in HDR technology captures three images with different exposure settings which are automatically combined. The resulting photographs offer abstract impressions traces of trees, birds, leaves and insects in a soft, pastel palette – all a result of chance.