As urban environments are increasingly dependent on the efficient use of space, high-rise structures have become the solution to overpopulation issues.

Elevators enabled the development of many-storied buildings and fundamentally altered urban landscapes and social space. Tokyo epitomizes the densely populated megalopolis, where elevators are a showcase for the basic paradox of personal alienation in urban living: the inescapable physical proximity countered by emotional distance.

The Tokyo Up, Down project comprises a series of black & white photographs taken inside and outside of elevators in Tokyo. The project explores vertical transportation in the intimacy of the elevator cabin, a moment of silence suspended in space and time, which nonetheless yields a rich array of subtle interactions between strangers on the shortest ever journey.

Elevators are part of the post-industrial emergence of transitional spaces within the complex urban fabric. Tokyo Up, Down is a visual essay that tries to show the elevator space as a transit hub that connects the surface of the megalopolis with the layers underneath. From random high-speed day-trips in skyscrapers of Nishi-Shinjuku business district to the seedy rides in the late-night buildings of Kabukicho’s red light district, both sides coexist in a relationship of interdependence.

— Xavier Comas

Editor’s note: We were delighted to open the Lens Culture inbox and discover Xavier Comas’ work, submitted to Lens Culture via our submissions process.