Perspectives vol.3

Light from the past and present,
observed from two different perspectives

In Perspectives, we visit people who are experts in their fields,
interact with diverse ways of thinking, and learn through creation.

Our guest for Volume 3 is Masumi Ishida, who published her first photo collection in February 2018. UX designer Shinichi Iriya has been fascinated by the photos Ishida snapped during her high school days, and had a conversation with her about photography, timelines, and light. When the conversation finished, Iriya took new photos spanning ten rolls of film, while Ishida set out with a film camera for some photography of her own. The two then talked about the works they each produced, and their respective thought processes.

Seeking new discoveries
through changed perspectives

IriyaSpeaking with Ishida, I definitely felt some commonalities between my work as a UX designer where I think in terms of timelines, and her work in which she captures single moments. After our discussion I thought it would be good to try taking photos with film, and I set off with two cameras to give it a try. Just like Ishida, I take photos every day—it’s part of my life. For this activity, we decided that the two of us would find photos that we each took on this same date two years ago and show them to each other for inspiration, then take photos on that same date this year. We thought that by doing this, we might both be able to discover new things through our photos. Among the photos from two years ago she sent me, one of them included the kanji for the word “dream.” Ishida had also said that when she put together her photo collection Light Years, she was aiming for “something almost mythical, with little sense of reality,” so I thought I would take photos with a dreamy, surreal theme.

Photo taken by Masumi Ishida two years ago during her high school days. Taking inspiration from this photo, Shinichi Iriya started taking photos of his own.

Expressing the enjoyment found
by changing perspectives

IriyaThe scenes I shot present new discoveries all around us from normal things we tend not to notice unless we change our perspective. I carried the camera around on a walk searching for scenes such as these, starting at home in the morning. I shot about ten rolls worth of film, and as you can see in my works selected from these rolls, they’re all scenes from everyday surroundings. The photos capture ordinary, everyday scenarios that are hard to recognize at a glance.

One standout image was taken through a partially deteriorated sheet of architectural material attached to the side of a pedestrian bridge. Looking deeper here puts an entirely new perspective on something that would otherwise be normal.

This snap captures a reflection of the photographer through the window façade of a library. It appears to capture a moment where the line between reality and imagination is blurred.

Iriya picks the extraordinary out of the ordinary in photos such as these, showing bending reflections of buildings seen in a rain puddle, a human shadow on an office partition, and the corner of an elevator carriage.

Iriya: I didn’t really go out there trying to photograph everyday scenes. It’s just that when I looked at all the photos, picked out the ones I liked and lined them up, the ones with everyday surroundings happened to be the ones I had chosen. There was actually another theme I had thought up for this photo shoot. That day, after leaving the house, I got on a train and headed to Enoshima, but ultimately what I ended up liking were the scenes of normal surroundings. Someone seeing these photos for the first time may or may not find them peculiar, but from my perspective seeing them on regular basis, they strike me as peculiar all over again when I arrange them in such a fashion. These photos express the enjoyment that can be found by changing perspectives in places that are familiar but the details of which we miss, rather than attention-grabbing scenery from some special place somewhere. I think one simple change of perspective can also open up a variety of possibilities as to how we spend our mornings or evenings. In terms of UX design as well, the usability and way of getting people interested are also different in each stage on the timeline—from when people first interact with an interface, to when they get used to it, and to when they become adept at using it.

Photos taken inadvertently left
as a record of life

IshidaFor this activity, I also took photos with a film camera on the same day as Iriya. The photo from two years ago he sent me was an image of a piece of bread. It was tough starting off with a bread photo, so I wasn’t initially sure where to go from there, or what to take photos of. I just went ahead and started by photographing bread that I bought in a number of different perspectives and arrangements. When the photos finished developing and I looked at the ones I took before and after photos of the bread were taken, there was also a photo I had inadvertently taken of the leftovers of my birthday cake. This was the photo that I decided to go with. I felt it was something in the same realm as the type of photos Iriya normally takes, in that it depicts something recorded inadvertently rather than intentionally.

IshidaIn our discussion, I thought Iriya is similar to me in how he regularly takes photos just for himself. The photos I took in my high school days were not meant to be shown to anyone. I wanted them to capture the limited days of my life as a high school student. For that reason, there are photos among them that other people probably couldn’t make heads or tails of just by looking at them, but when I see them I’m reminded of a particular event that happened on a particular day, or I see a photo taken from behind someone and remember who that person is. When I heard that Iriya also takes photos nearly every day, I thought that he also continues taking these photos in order to leave memories behind from his everyday life. I feel that looking at pictures from the past after a certain period of time helps make those memories more vivid.

This photo was taken by Masumi Ishida. When she was taking photos of bread in the kitchen, she inadvertently took this one photo of the leftovers of a birthday cake she had received a few days earlier.

Designing with the sense
of being back in the analog days

IriyaWhen I took photos with film for this activity, I gained new respect for how Ishida always takes her photos this way, and I felt it is not something I could ever imitate. I mean, I think that in these times when everything is digital, it has to be nearly impossible to imitate a young person who can actually put photo collections and advertising works out there using film. I set out to take photos for one day, but several times during that day I would get anxious, thinking that the photo function might not be working, or that the photos would not develop correctly. If I were only doing it as a hobby, I would just get disappointed and quit, but work makes it a different story. I have actually had several misadventures with film cameras in the past.

IriyaNormally in design, once brochures and printed materials come out there’s no going back, but when it’s digital you can make as many corrections as you want. Redo it once, redo it again, keep improving it and get as close to perfect as possible. That’s another advantage you have with digital. However, this experience made me realize that a different type of world also exists. That’s been my big takeaway from this. If I think I can fix it later, I tend to depend on that, kind of like an escape route. If I work on design with the sense of pressure that I only have one chance, like I’m back in the analog days, I think it can help me create that particular value now more than ever. The way things were in the analog days, nothing was as easy to make as it is now. There were so many things you couldn’t make even if you wanted to. Design really is something that brings about actual form, an entity, no matter what it is you try to express. Nowadays digital is the norm, and that’s especially why this was such a great opportunity to rethink things.

Photo (left): Masumi Ishida

Photo (right): Shinichi Iriya
Chief Art Director
of UX Platform Design Group,
Creative Center,
Sony Corporation

Layout by Editing Department, AXIS

Text by Junya Hirokawa