“Seto Masato, Picnic” (Text by KOIKE Hiro)

This series reminds us of one of the photographer’s main works, “Living Room, Tokyo”, photographs in which people are sitting or lying in their own rooms. The difference here is that people are in parks, not in their rooms, sitting and lying on plastic sheets placed on grass. They look as if they were in their rooms without roofs and walls. The photographer creates invisible rooms, using a conceptual tool —- in this case plastic sheets, within a conceptual space: parks. It makes us unaware of the dislocation from the real world, just as costumes disconnected from reality become symbols.

The couples are very close to each other, and behave as if they were alone. They are naturally so while the photographer is shooting, not having been told to pose. Although there are no settings used for these photographs, I feel they are out of place. Why?

One seeks documentation when attempting to equate photographs to reality. But documentation is not free from stories. It makes sense to say photography is fiction rather than saying documentation is free from stories. A fiction is naturally detached from reality. If one seeks DOCUMENTATION with photography, it is going to be ANTI-DOCUMENTATION (which is photography itself). A lot of people refuse to be tolerant of the disconnectedness from reality because they dont want it erode their reality. The photographer betrays the expected documentation.

Under the “invisible” concepts of parks and plastic sheets, the couples expose visible embodiments: their bodies. Also, there is an “invisible” concept of a room created on the top of conceptual parks and plastic sheets. Talking about these things, however, doesn’t mean seeing the photographs. Each constituent of the photographs must talk. There is no pure documentation. There is documentation for words and stories. We don’t need documentation that confirms concepts. That’s not documentation. Documentation is something that unsettles the frameworks of concepts, and grows through details. The “real” doesn’t “exist”. It appears in the relationship between photographs and viewers. We should stop discussions about photography. We should look at photographs. We find in them the faces, clothes, bags, hands and feet; these are what come to form for the viewer. The more real the photographs become, the more they become disoriented from the real world. The “real” is conceptual. Photography as documentation accompanies the anticipated conceptual consistency. The “real”, within them, is caught in the determined frameworks. To make a real document, however, things should transcend the frameworks. We should be aware of the “outcome” of the transcendence. We should sense the “dislocation” from reality. That is exactly where I find the possibility of the “real” in fiction: taking photographs.

text by KOIKE Hiro’o (critic)