Collage on paper, digital collage, 2014
In his work, Hideyuki Ishibashi circles around photography like a satellite around a planet, an attractive force always in sight. Constantly pushing back the limits of printing techniques, most of his works are however the result of a process where the photographic apparatus is mostly absent – no camera obscura, no lens. Instead, his images are geological stratas, the accumulation of many layers of processes – analog and digital, palimpsests of memories. For him, « any image is just a projection of images we have already seen somewhere before ».
Présage specifically questions the photographic medium as a surface for imaginary projections. In this series, dream-like scenes are materialized through a complex series of manipulations, recomposition and assemblage.
First are the visions. Every morning for a while, Hideyuki Ishibashi drew the fleeting images still lingering in his mind when he woke up – a fire, a forest, theaters of silent dramas, the shadow of a man, silhouettes on a hill. These mental scenes are then reconstructed little by little from small fragments, cut from Google Street View screenshots and found photographs. Over the years, he gathered a gigantic collection of them from flea markets and antiquarians. Piles of analog photographs of various origins and formats, anonymous family pictures. At this point, the composite image is a chimera, an assemblage of roughly cut shapes adorned with notes and sketches. Here an arm, there the branch of a tree, colorful masses of textures outlining the composition.
In the next step, all these fragments are scanned and reassembled with Photoshop. The colorful details, meticulously unified in black and white, merge into each other. After « completing corrections to an almost impossible degree », the artist blurs the distinction with a real photograph ; a new image emerges from all these bits and pieces, somewhere between reality and imagination. This process of layering could be seen as a reminiscence of the Japanese technique called « chigiri-e », where pieces of colored paper are torn and assembled to give life to new compositions.
Reacting to the visual accumulation of our digital era, Hideyuki Ishibashi summons techniques whose time consuming process contrast with the attention span dedicated to images online. As he stated, « I have created new images as a platform for the act of viewing itself ». Pushing reconstitution to its limits, the blurry and luminous visions of Présage remind us the ambiguity behind any image ; photography as a construction.