The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) will present the photographic works of the contemporary Japanese photographer, Sato Tokihiro in Points of Light: Sato Tokihiro Photographs. Twelve luminous black and white photographs will be on display in this solo show featuring Sato’s distinctive technique of moving about with either a penlight or a mirror to reflect sunlight into the camera lens during long timed exposures. "Sato’s remarkable use of light, coupled with his own movement animates his chosen subjects of landscapes, urban scenes and interiors," explains Tom Hinson, curator of photography at the museum. "His show allows our visitors to better appreciate the work of one of the contemporary photographers in the upcoming The History of Japanese Photography (May 25-July 20) exhibition."
Originally trained as a sculptor, Sato has been exploring his interest in light and shadow since the late 1980s. Using a large-format camera fitted with a neutral-density filter Sato is able to create long exposure prints that explore ideas about time, space and transience. "His selection between the use of points or traces of light elicits varying emotional reactions," explains Hinson. "From the slightly frantic to the purely contemplative, each image contains a true sense of affectivity."
Born in Yamagata Prefecture, a small landlocked prefecture in northern Japan, Sato quickly developed an interest in traditional Japanese art. He later attended the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music, Japan’s leading art school and immediately was interested in becoming a sculptor.
In the late 1980s Sato turned to photography because he found that this medium allowed him to "liberate" his sculptures in the midst of space. Sato’s initial photos were made by tracing his sculptures with a penlight, thus creating "light sculptures." This technique led him to create outdoor exposures of an hour, using a small mirror to direct sunlight to a stationary camera for a few minutes at a time, producing brilliant sparks of illumination. The long exposure and a filter masked the photographer’s body and movement. As Sato described the result, "my body has disappeared, but by being replaced with light it has gained access to the universal….this is precisely what sets it free to frolic inside people’s imagination."
Widely recognized for his ingenious technique, Sato has won numerous awards. In 1989, at the Japan Professional Photographers Society exhibition, Sato won the silver prize for his work. A year later, he received the "new-artist" award at the Higashikawa International Photography Festival and three additional awards at the Japan International Art Exhibition. Sato currently teaches at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.
In conjunction with this exhibition, the Cleveland Museum of Art will be featuring The History of Japanese Photography from May 25 to July 20, 2003. This groundbreaking exhibition is the first in the West to chronicle the history of photography by Japanese photographers.
The Cleveland Museum of Art receives operating support from the Ohio Arts Council.
The Cleveland Museum of Art is one of America’s leading comprehensive museums. Its permanent collection is world renowned for its quality and breadth, spanning 6,000 years. The museum is a significant international forum for exhibitions, scholarship and art acquisitions.