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Archival pigment print, 20x20, 2016.

Tokyo Is Yours

Archival pigment print, 20x20, 2016.

Tokyo Collage

Archival pigment print, 30x30, 2017.


Archival pigment print, 20x20, 2016.

Tokyo: Fact or Fiction 

My obsession with Tokyo started five years ago. Getting off the express train from Narita Airport I arrived at the infamous crossing guard in Shibuya. The crossing guard is a convergence of swarming pedestrians, cars, and advertisements. At some point, traffic stops completely and people surge into the intersection from all sides like a tidal wave. The experience is like Time Square on steroids, but even more thrilling—a constant tsunami of people embedded in a futuristic metropolis.


The more I’ve returned to Japan over the last five years, the more I’ve come to see this as a façade rather than a conventional reality. Behind the Blade Runner landscape and the Lost in Translation moments, the people moved through the city with a life force and adrenaline that compelled me to want to know more. Soon I found myself people watching with my camera, documenting everything that came my way: hipsters on the prowl, children at play, businessmen rushing to a last-minute meeting, families riding the subway, pedestrians passing a free-spirited wall that says, simply, ‘Tokyo is Yours.’


Part of what makes Tokyo so special is the heightened sense of reality that seems to occupy the space between fact and fiction. By deploying a pop art technique to my photographs I wanted to blur the line where fact and fiction meet. By freeing the image from its origin, I’m able to amplify its dramatic impact, in turn asking the viewer to explore further the layers and details behind the image. At the same time, this series is a documentary, told at 24 frames per second, cataloging a people whom are at once isolated, audacious, confidant, and yearning. The coloring scheme deployed introduces new thematic threads while allowing the subjects a more conventional route out of that framing. Thus Tokyo fabricates its own narrative, with the viewer as a collaborator, refracting the fixed vision of photorealism through the lens of the mind.


Michael LaRocco, San Francisco, July 2017 












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