Girls Just Want To Have Fun!


The universe that Sayo Nagase saw through the microscope.
Photo_Ryosuke Yuasa
Interview&Text_Mayu Sakazaki

The world of photographer Sayo Nagase's works have a common tranquility.
It's like inside a space shuttle that travels cosmic space or when you dive into a deep pool.
In this 10 years from the release of a photo book “Blue Time-THROUGH THE LOOKING GIRL“
in 2006 to “CUT-OUT“ in 2016, Sayo Nagase still explore the signs of “something“
while trying repeated experiments, changing motifs and techniques.
In conjunction with her solo exhibition and release of a photo book of the new work “THE VOID“,
we’ll present her interview (likely or unlikely) with welcomed guest,
YOSHIROTTEN who was in charge of art direction.

Believe in miracle and create like opening a treasure box.

First of all, please tell us about when you started photography, Nagase-san.
Sayo Nagase (Sayo below):I thought "Let’s express the world in my head in some way" when I was 15 years old, so I played music, made video, did writing, graphic and tried acting too. Among them, photography fits me best in terms of mentally and physically. Even though people in general use a camera in their everyday lives, I wondered why the difference between those who mastered it and not is huge. I thought that number of people who are involved to Music or video project is too many at the time and because I tend to concern a lot about others, I might have to use energy for it and that’ll result to rust purity of work. I thought that being able to complete alone from the beginning to end is either photography or writing, moreover expressing through machines would restrict me from being too self-conscious, but very public act. What I found most interesting was a photography. So, it’s consequence of I tried various things. I still find it interesting, so nothing has changed since then.
"THE VOID" is a series of works that took female legs on a contact sheet of snapshots by a microscope lens. How did you start thinking about the concept?
Sayo:I don’t usually have special opening, I’m holding about 5 projects at the same time in about three years span while looking for something always. The concept is not so easy to come up with, or rather work that I could draw the concept in my head from the beginning won’t exceed my range so will be unconvinced one. So, I deny rough ideas first and repeatedly collect a bit of ideas that came off from my head and make them bigger. That's why even I wouldn’t know what will come out and it’s like an image of I’m repeating to grab what’s drifting in the air and put it down to the ground.
Using a microscope is unique this time.
Sayo:Yes! Originally, I like to take snap photos, so I shoot a lot when I go abroad, and I take pictures of people who look even smaller than rice grains zooming by microscope from a photo that pictured many people in one frame. At first, take a picture with film and contact print it, then shoot it digitally through a microscope. I use both film and digital, and there’s also a microscope in between. I use stretcher machine even before that, so a photo become very blurry by going through many steps. Different kinds of particles come out as a result of undergoing multiple processes.
It’s kind of curious feeling. The previous work was a paper cutout and this time it is a microscope, how do you find such experimental methods?
Sayo:I defend my everyday antenna of "I might want to do that" or "It might be fun " to the death in my life. I’ve been thinking to try using either microscope or telescope this time. When I did a paper cutout, it started from having a fun and eventually ended up as a work. Inherently I don’t anticipate everyday life, so it’s like opening a treasure box .... I’m not seeing the final picture yet, always. I think normally things move forward with a prospect, but if that’s the case I’m afraid that the possibility will be narrower. In my case, I trust miracle.

The encounter of photographer, Sayo Nagase and art director, YOSHIROTTEN.

Following the previous work "CUT-OUT", YOSHIROTTEN-san is in charge of art direction again. What is the encounter of you two?
YOSHIROTTEN:I was doing CD album artwork direction of a female singer and offering a photo to Sayo-san that time was the first encounter. Because I liked her works, I was checking her photos, but I’ve never imagined she is such an easygoing person. Lol Somehow more strict and strong images were in my head.
Sayo:Waist pouch! Cameraman vest! Or something like that? Lol
YOSHIROTTEN:That's right, and Jeans Pants! Lol Though I had such an impression, when we did first meeting at café in Ebisu, she was so easygoing (PoyoPoyo in Japanese words) so I call her Sayo Poyo since then.
Sayo:I was wearing a navy color skirt on that day, so I thought that I look stylish like a career woman. I pretended that way as it was first meeting.
How do you find each other as a creator?
YOSHIROTTEN:In my impression, sayo-san as a creator she exhibits works or publishes photo books from overseas, rather than having a commercial work. As was expected, how to catch the light is unique, and I’ve been checking her photos for a long time. When shooting together, it was really nice photos, and the workplace was fun too.
Sayo:Since I had no information before I met him, I thought "a musician came!" Lol We started "CUT-OUT" together because I became too stoic until "SPRITE". Though I didn’t involve others in process of creating my work, it turned to be too dense so I’ve began willing that someone from third party to join the project. I've done a world in which I dialogue to myself only then I could afford to trust others. Doing "SPRITE" together with Art Director, Natsuko Yoneyama-san turned out to be very positive. But, I still had some responsibilities to carry. Then I just found a right person who seemed to be ok to carry that when I was thinking how to step an accelerator by being more casual. Lol I reckon I was convinced to do well with YOSHIROTTEN-san who is blessed with a rare talent of having fine balance sense of both intuition and logical because I live by following just intuition.
What kind of exchange did this photo book got through?
Sayo:I was originally thinking two axes of doing both exhibition and photo book, and I wanted exhibition to use various photos about 200 in total, and the photo book to carry opposite minimum world. The word "THE VOID" in the title means something like vacuum or nothing or hollow space so the image I felt from it is a sense of dense, but also empty. Anyway, I wanted to raise the purity, so I narrowed down selected photos as much as possible from 1000 shots. That work might have been the most difficult. I wanted to make it to be "absolute nothing" like the universe where has no oxygen nor sound. Actually, there’s somewhere called VOID in the universe and its shape is very similar to the cover picture, took by microscope lens as it is.
YOSHIROTTEN:When I saw it for the first time, I thought this is very "universe". When seeing a lot of sent thumbnails in one folder, I found blurred blue and black are similar to the color taste of lunar landing photo book before the 1980s.
Sayo:Because my father did work related to space, I thought astronauts are cool. So as photographers, I thought it’s cool for women to do men's occupation when I was kids. That sort of adoration was imprinted to myself, and the image of that time remain forever. I also like to look up at the sky, like the moon, the universe, the earth, those big things. You are the same, aren’t you?
YOSHIROTTEN:Yeah, we used to talk a lot about NASA and so on. It was first time for me to hear the silence you mentioned, but I’ve been feeling the same way when I see your photos.
Sayo:I wanted to be me as I am or rather pursuing essence. I’m always looking for how to sharpen myself and dig into essence like I did narrowing number of pictures down to this much. However, as I want to be changed soon after a photo album is done, a person who thought that way is no longer here anymore. Lol

Things that they valued during the course of creation.

As now is the period to put out own messages easily, guess people in age 10s and 20s are thinking like “I’d like to make something by myself” more than used to be. What are the things that you valued during the course of creation?
YOSHIROTTEN:I have a pride that I’ve made lots of things. Even when I was in my teens or when I was in the company, I spent my days off or several hours after work to make my own favorite things, always. Because there are many things that I wouldn’t know if I don’t try. You’d understand what’s cool or not by going through such time. I think that doing numbers enabled me to select good things. The world will change by that.
Sayo:That's so true. I’m always experimenting because unseen goal is a nothing special. I think the whole life is an experiment. As a result of being obsessed with what’s in front of me, this kind of good thing is made, but not premised on succeed when making action. Therefore, it’s better not to do the same when you logically face to the work and the time you go crazy. I’d think about the title and others to fill the gap once after making crazy. It’s like to use right and left brain properly.
As on the other side of the world being easier to put out what you made to the public, there are many who do creative activities without going through "training period" to study under someone who called the master. What do you think about that by looking back on your experience?
YOSHIROTTEN:I think that it will change depending on what you aim for, but it would be better to have a lot of experience if you want to do various things. For example, if you start working at design office, study the drawing, watch the site, and do hundreds of patterns of layouts, there is definitely something that you can learn from that life. However, things made with the impulse when are young may produce totally newer "something", so I think in the end it’s better to do both. Lol Since there’re various options of making presentation now, it’s better to try lots, being hungry rather than resisting to use them. But I think that technique is going to be educated by someone, so if you can mix such technology and your impulse, the best.
Sayo:Totally! In my 10s or 20s ages, I thought that if I move forward with the impulse due to youth, I could only have maybe three drawers and it would be empty soon. Or more like, I might have been discouraged before realizing the real interestingness of creative affluence and depth in further. I guess that’s why I did backward calculation, and basic works, training and research every chance I get in my early 20s when everyone is shining. I think that period makes who I am now and because I could make the standard framework by doing stoic when I was young, now I can be just free by taking out frame as getting older. All I can say is just pursuing your own way, trusting yourself and open your mind.