A box of ku

Masao Yamamoto

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Working from a Zen philosophy of “emptiness”, Masao Yamamoto’s images are essentially vignettes of nature and our intersection with it, ruminating over the passage of time and memory. His finished prints are miniature treasures—averaging 3 x 5 inches and smaller—that are toned, stained, torn, marked, rubbed and creased. His marring and tainting of the prints in this manner results in a kind of accelerated aging.

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Trained as a painter, Masao Yamamoto has been a photographer since 1975. Of all the images he has taken, none has a discreet identity in terms of title; each piece is numbered but part of a continuous series. Like a community, the images are independent of one another but at the same time part of a collective. Yamamoto’s series began in 1993 as “A Box of Ku”—ku meaning “emptiness” in Japanese—and currently continues under the title “Nakazora,” which has an even more enigmatic definition : the space between sky and earth, the place where birds, etc. fly. Empty air. Mid-air. An internal hollow. Vague. Hollow. Around the center of the sky. A state when the feet do not touch the ground. Inattentiveness. The inability to decide between two things.

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