Hamish Campbell: The Taisho Photographer´s House
Head On Photo Festival 07 - 29 May 2016
"Hamish Campbell is a photographer with an exacting eye for detail and rigorous exploration of ideas. A serious technician, his prints are both didactic and highly nuanced - the shadows, the palimpsest, the tonal play.
In continuing his exploration of abandoned places in contemporary Japan, Hamish has now moved beyond merely recording the past through the current viewfinder. In this exhibition, through the serendipitous finding of ancient glass plates, he has fused the past and present. In this his approach is reminiscent of the exploration of Erich Consemuller at the Bauhaus, 1926 such as Mechanical fantasy 1 and 2.
In these hand-forged images, we confront youthful endeavour and ancient traditions. Our mind is drawn into the private realm of a long departed family man, his young bride, the children, pets and even the workers and builders. We see the self in reflection, where only shadows are found now.
Over time entropy and decay cannot halt the march of bamboo. Nonetheless, as a documentary exercise, Hamish has now secured for these once treasured plates, a permanence beyond the artefact.
As an architect, I am drawn to the curious conjunction of the c.1922 design - part traditional and tatamied single storey + part Euro/Germanic decorative upper level. This clash contrives to elevate the modern above the bund, perhaps a manifestation of the democratic ambitions of the Taisho era in post WWI Japan.
These young [male] workers were entitled to vote for the first time in 1926. Contrast this innocence with the posture of the Photographer here, assured in his elan, adept at using advanced technologies, comfortable in his gaze."