Since the Great East Japan earthquake of 2011, Toru Komatsu has taken photos of trees in places that suffered damage from the earthquake and subsequent tsunami. 50 of these images comprise A Distant Shore , which documents the eerily beautiful aftermath of the disaster.
On his travels throughout Japan Komatsu was particularly fascinated by monumental rocky crags that seem like islands floating on the land. Mostly scattered with pine trees, the crags are land – locked but were once surrounded by the sea. Typically cordoned off by ceremonial ropes, they are today treated as holy areas embedded with the memory of their past—in Komatsu’s words, “I imagine that an island floating on the land still hasn’t forgotten the ocean that once surrounded it, even if the sea is now many miles away.” Circular cut- outs placed before each square photo allow the images in the book to be experienced both as cropped circles and the full square layouts, creating a sense of peering through a peephole or a telescope from the wrong end, and transforming the photos into a setting for a dramatic play while commenting on the limits of our fields of vision.
‘Both photography and cinematic films are originally derived from a single, round eye. By returning photographs to the perspective of a single circular lens, Komatsu’s work gives us a perspective on the history of photography.’ -Sakumi Hagiwara