It’s been almost 3 years since my photobook “Don’t Go Outside” was released. The book was inspired by my ongoing visits to Japan for business and pleasure. A little over 2 years ago the whole family and I moved from Los Angeles to Tokyo and things that seemed exciting previously became normal. It’s an interesting shift that happens when you go from visitor to resident, and vice versa. Visiting Los Angeles now lets me see the city in ways I never did living there – but that’s a different story for another thing. I’m talking about Tokyo right now.
Not long after moving, Tara and I started talking about an idea, loosely based on our new surroundings and how they were making us feel. I made some new photos to try and convey how that felt. We liked them. We thought we’d like to have the photos on some things around our house, and thought maybe others would as well. We mapped out the idea, bought the URL, spent a few hours on it and then put it on the back burner. More than a year later we kicked each others asses and decided to finish it. So we did. Today we launched Street Sheets.tokyo.
Here’s some of the things we made:
There’s more now, and we’ll keep adding more as we go. I’m pretty happy with how these turned out, and am excited to hear what others think, and see the products out in the wild. Here’s a little more that I wrote about the idea behind the work:
After moving to Tokyo in 2017 we began to realize how the lines on the streets offered more than just direction. The bold, iconic lines served their purpose of helping millions of people to navigate the public space, but they seemed to help navigate interpersonal distance and interactions as well. The orderly placement and repeated patterns were soothing and almost comforting. At the same time, the cracks and decay as the paint aged told the story of how things might look beautiful and perfect at a distance, but upon closer inspection the flaws are revealed. This applies literally to the physical paint, but is also indicative of society as a whole. With this insight the stark black and white imagery becomes suggestive of the duality of humanity at scale – functional but inescapably flawed.
These products can be seen as a followup to the book “Don’t Go Outside” – a collection of street photography by Sean Bonner, a voyeuristic exploration of the public human interaction in Tokyo. This stylistic reinterpretation both forcibly minimizes the imagery by removing the people, the individuals, as well as putting full focus on the intention of the population at large. Stripped of the human subjects, all that’s left is their impact. The intention of bringing this imagery literally from the public streets inside to the intimacy of our own homes, living rooms and bedrooms further plays on this duality of intention.
Snuggle up with the struggle.
There was a time in my life when I was just cranking things out left and right. I’ve been feeling pretty stagnant for the last few years, and moving this from idea to shipped felt really good. I give all credit to Tara for putting her foot down and insisting we finish it and get it out the door. It’s exciting to see it materialize, and a testament to committing to just getting it done. I hope you like it.