Artists of the Floating World:
Tokyo Street Photographers Go Print
To document the changes that will have happened in Tokyo by 2020, the year when the Japanese capital will host the Olympics, Japanese street photographers got together and founded a new zine, VoidTokyo. As many symbols as possible and zero text — only faces, road signs, and advertising billboards.
VoidTokyo is a new printed zine created by the community of Tokyo street photographers and entirely dedicated to the magic of their city. All this to document and store on paper a library-like artifact of how the metropolis will change by the 2020 Olympic Games.
The founder of VoidTokyo Tatsuo Suzuki gathered street photographers, who normally work alone, to put their experience of the streets together and so create a kaleidoscope of Tokyo. “One of our members is a photo school graduate, and another is an art school student, as for the rest, including me, we have no professional photographic education. The only criteria was a real devotion to street photography and passion. There are no limitations for content – each member keeps working in his or her individual style,” – Suzuki says.
Photographers’ aim is to print a new volume with selected images each month at least up to 2020 and as a result – create a collective body of work coinciding with the Olympic Games. VoidTokyo members’ statement says: “How much will the international city ‘Tokyo’ change with the Olympic Games and what will happen thereafter? Our viewpoint is gazing at the void of the current Tokyo. We are looking out for the future of the city we have been capturing as street photographers. And we want to continue presenting it as a record, a memory, and a photograph.”
Apart from being a big event, the Olympic Games have a special meaning for Tokyo. In 1940, the city was disqualified as a host, but received a second chance in 1964, when Japan was no longer an aggressor country in a war with half of the world. In just 20 years, Tokyo changed profoundly, from low-rise housing severely damaged by bombing to the modern high-rise apartments and multi-level flyovers shadowed by the rising Tokyo Tower. Ever since, the city never stopped the pulse, turning into a magnetic spot for tourists and photographers. After these Games, Tokyo is going to reach a new level of terrestriality for sure.
Street photographs leave Tumblr, Facebook, and Instagram to become a new material form, minimalistic in words and rich in symbols, as it is manifested in every visual art Japan gave birth to: from calligraphy to woodblock prints to ukiyo-e to manga and much more. No captions, only people’s faces, road signs, and advertising in color and print.
The community was founded by Tokyo-born street photographer Tatsuo Suzuki, previously featured in Bird In Flight. Other members of the VoidTokyo are: Hiroki Fujitani, Tadashi Onishi who was also featured in BIF, Naoki Iwao, Yukari Unleash Sasaki, Tadashi Yamashita, Keiichi Ichikawa, Ash Shinya Kawaoto, Kawara Chan, Miho Okawa, and So Sasaki.