For me, the work is a kind of mind game.
I hope I am able to intrigue
California based Japanese-born photographer, Hiroshi Watanabe, has become an important force in photography over the past several years, with a growing list of monographs, artist’s books, exhibitions and awards to his credit. Known for his beautiful theatrical portraits of traditional Noh Masks of the Naito Clan and Kabuki Players, here he has taken a slightly different turn photographing artificial Japanese Sex Dolls as models, along with almost identical live models. The portraits are titled out of fictional characters in an accompanying short story by novelist Richard Curtis Hauschild and all reside in a fictional place, Love Point.
“After I photographed the dolls, I photographed real human models dressed similarly. I wanted to puzzle and confuse what is real and what is not. Of course, one can tell the difference once he/she knows there are both. I could have made them more same and thus indistinguishable if I manipulated the images digitally, but I kept them as they are on the film. I wanted to raise a question about perfectly (and easily) manipulated digital images that we see now everywhere”, Watanabe explained.
Love Point was a collaboration of many. Hiroo Okawa of 4woods created the dolls which gave Watanabe’s photographs their mysterious charm, along with the work of make-up artist, Kyoko Owada, stylist Hiromi Chiba, and models, Mariko Masu and Hiroko Sato. Richard Curtis Hauschild, “Bulldog”, wrote a strikingly original short story with the inspiration he received after looking at Hiroshi Watanabe’s photographs. Kunihiro Takahashi of Toseisha belief in the work prompted an “I will publish it” response on the spot when shown the photographs, with book design by Satsuki Ishikawa. And more recently, Chris Pichler of Nazraeli Press, published the U.S. version, One Picture Book #66: Love Point (Nazraeli Press, 2011).
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