Satō Tokihiro


 Satō Tokihiro’ s Photo Respiration photographs capture light that he has reflected back toward his camera with a mirror or penlight. The exposures are long and require a neutral density filter to allow him to move through the field of view without recording his image. The viewer only knows of Satō’s presence from the points or lines of light. This technique challenges the traditional processes of photography.

The Akihabara district in Tokyo is filled with shops selling electronic goods and is always teeming with people; however, none of them is present in Satō’s photograph. The points of light, the equivalent of Satō’s breaths (respirations), are all that are visible, traces of his movements long after he has departed and a metaphor for the traces that all people leave in a place.


Image credit: Satō Tokihiro. Born in Sakata, Yamagata Prefecture, 1957. Lives and works in Saitama. Akihabara, 1992. Black and white transparency over light panel. Courtesy of the artist and Leslie Tonkonow, New York. ©2015 Satō Tokihiro.