GOTO AKI─The intersection of snapshots and landscapes
text : Shuichi Iketani :  photo editor

It is difficult to take the awe you experience of a landscape in front of your eyes and engrave it into a photograph. The photographer will aim his camera toward the landscape that moves him and click the shutter. But are those moments captured on the screen truly the same as the real images that inspired them? Considering this question, if I were the photographer and I were impressed by the landscape as it is, I wouldn’t take the photo. I neither have the desire to take the amazement from experiencing nature and confining it to the window of a photo, nor do I want a photo to ruminate over later. This is because the amazement seems to deteriorate when I look at the photos I have kept as memos.
The traditional subject matter in landscape paintings is scenery that provokes some kind of sentiment in the viewer; many landscape photos were spawned as an extension of this. Nice views and nice scenery are certain vantage points that people have chosen as objects to admire. Ansel Adams and Edward Weston have employed painting-like methods, rendering beautiful monochrome images that are unique to photography. Photographers who are categorized in the history of photography as new color or new topographics were innovators who showed skepticism in shooting those sentiments. In the 1970s, many of them chose common landscapes and made them unique by portraying them in fine detail, characteristic of large format cameras. They photographically created landscapes that capture the eyes.
When GOTO AKI began studying photography in the later 1990s, photographers in Japan were showing the results of digesting new color and new topographics. In fact, he studied under Norio Kobayashi at photography school. But at the time, landscapes were not yet on GOTO’s radar.
Photography in Japan in the latter half of the 1990s is distinctive in that photographers emphasizing self-identity expanded their presence, driven by the strong influence of Nobuyoshi Araki and Nan Goldin. GOTO was unable to empathize with this trend of inner expression and focused on collecting subject matter outside. He consciously wandered into the bustle of Southeast Asia and made himself vulnerable to the pulsations of the towns and people as he single-mindedly worked to capture the essence of photography. This was a result of the conviction he gained from his trip around the world in the early 1990s. Rather than the small “inside” of himself, he was pulled to the massive “outside.” He strove to link those endless discoveries of the unknown with snapshots. But at the time, GOTO could not articulate this and only his instinct of heading “outside” was guiding him.
Toward the end of the 1990s when GOTO held his first solo exhibition, he accompanied his photography school teacher, Kiyoshi Suzuki, to New York on a shoot. Suzuki reacted to the city, i.e. “outside,” with amazing speed and captured the essence from the moment the contact print was made. Witnessing the repetition of the creative cycle of shooting and destroying, GOTO deepened his sense of conviction. Suzuki’s influence perpetually dwells in the core of GOTO’s creative approach.
After that, it took a long time for his snapshots, which revealed an impasse, to link to landscapes. Landscapes had the same quality as the instinct he had developed while engaging towns and the people. His journey around the world is also relevant here. The memories and sensations from his journey, where he repeatedly encountered the massive “outside,” began to intersect with the essence of the photos he has since continued to take.
GOTO’s approach toward landscapes was not intentionally adopted as a technique for creation. The development of his instinct generated conviction, and by shooting and destroying, he is trying to reveal the essence of photography. The landscapes are part of this outcome. The major difference from his previous snapshots is that by engaging the subject of nature, he is able to react to the flow of intricately intersecting time—the real time that proceeds as humans recognize, and the time that has accumulated on a global scale and surpasses human knowledge. GOTO reacts to the rhythmical landscapes within this. Rather than discerning a landscape as a view, he will penetrate it, reacting to one landscape after another while moving vigorously. With the addition of his versatile command of the camera lens, the boundary between the majestic landscape in the far distance and the miniscule landscape at his feet begins to disappear. Landscapes that had previously been overlooked are engraved into photos, and this is where their essence transpires.

Quoted from the photo book "terra"