Thousands of Photographs of the Sea, in One Image – The Foreigners magazine In tokyo
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Thousands of Photographs of the Sea, in One Image

Written by on October 7, 2021

Something new was happening: Unlike Nishino’s usual process, in which he arrays his images within the recognizable outline of a city’s map, these waves weren’t replicating the shape of actual waves he’d seen. “It was more abstract,” he told me, through his translator and agent, Miho Odaka — more like an Expressionist painting than a map. “It wasn’t a reproduction or recording of my memory of a place. Instead, I’m creating this world.”

The long process of splicing and arranging tens of thousands of images requires a level of almost transcendental concentration. Normally, it has conjured Nishino’s memories of the city he’s working on quite powerfully: He is half there in his studio — stationary, staring intently at this two-dimensional record of his travels — and half inside the city again, still moving around.

Now, working on the waves, where was he exactly? Somewhere even trippier, it seems: a place where imagination overtakes memory, like water from far away, breaking over the land.

Sohei Nishino is an artist known for his work with photography and collage, which has been shown in festivals and museums around the world, including the International Center of Photography in New York and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Jon Mooallem is a writer at large for the magazine and the author of a book about the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964, “This Is Chance!” His book of essays, “Serious Face,” will be published next spring.

Additional design and development by Jacky Myint.

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