Any visitor to Tokyo will have to admit that little of the traditional romantic idea of Old Edo still exists. Pockets certainly do, but not enough to sustain the dream. What you find instead is one of the most absurd collages of global culture in the world. Not reduced to the simple dichotomy between East and West, this unique mixture of architecture, fashions, and advertising confounds us with its surface ugliness. But on more considered reflection, it becomes charming and humorous.
The Japanese have always excelled at craft and detail, and we are accustomed to appreciating this in pictures of isolated traditional houses, arts and crafts, and countless scenes suggesting the art of zen. What is interesting for me is the spaces between all these incredibly planned things, how they overlap, how they harmonize and contradict.
I like extending this concept with photographs. In groups, whether paired, in series, or in a matrix, photographs invite comparison, allude to narratives, and their associations ricochet around the imagination. With an enormous population and a small scale, there is a treasure trove of this overlapping “eyedea” candy. I thought about all this as I roamed the city (during my first visits after an absence of seven years) while my father was recovering from a serious illness. “Only connect,” E.M. Forster wrote ninety years ago, “… and human love will be seen at its height.”
—March, 2000, Tokyo & New York
Tokyo Multiples was my first color series, where formalist topologies were more interesting to me than the drama of street photography.