Fairy Paths and Pixy Moors―the fairies live here and there 精霊はそこここに宿る
Project info

At the beginning of the 20th century an incident known as "The Case of the Cottingley Fairies" took place in England. Some girls from the village of Cottingley in northern England supposedly took "photographs of fairies" and in total five of these photographs were found between 1916 and 1920. A controversy occurred over whether these photographs were real of fake and it caused quite a commotion. The person at the center of this verification was Arthur Conan Doyle, the author famous for "Sherlock Homes".

Photos at that time were photographed on photographic plates to become negatives. Doyle felt both doubtful and suspicious about the case but it is said that he treated it as an important historical matter and undertook a serious investigation. Doyle consulted with authorities in supernatural phenomenon and experts in photography and announced his conclusion that the results showed that the "photographic plates" used by the girls to produce the photographs were genuine and that there was no trace of other artificial methods, such as double exposure. However, finally in 1983, one of the girls in her later years confessed the truth that this incident was created by "cutting out a fairy drawn in a picture and taking a photograph by holding the image with a pin" and the case was closed.

To take a photograph that captures light and temperature has to be something material. In the "Case of the Cottingley Fairies" photographs, the fairies that we can see are made from the materials of "pictures drawn on paper." But isn‘t it true then that all illusions are something fake? Were these photos simply just a "fraud "?

The subject that I want to examine here along with my own work, is not a deliberation on whether fairies actually exist. Nor is it about the significance of photographic processing. Just by thinking about the nature of "fantasy" itself, I would like to take this opportunity to question the relevance between the real world and fantasy and its credibility.

Long ago in the UK a lot of people believed in fairies and it was considered wise not to offend even the good fairies and at times even throw them some pieces of bread and cheese. And many talismans or amulets were conceived to be used as protection against bad fairies.

Fairies are said to have various origins, including a personification of the forces of nature, the ancient gods having become smaller, the souls of the dead, fallen angels or something created by the smile on a baby‘s face. Sometimes they bring help to humans, at other times they bring mischief. The stories handed down tell of their existence on farms, in mines, in places where people fish or hunt, in monasteries and in forests, but not only in the great outdoors, they also dwell in places close by people. For example, "The Apple Tree Man. " One kind of nymph in the apple trees, it was said that he lived in the oldest tree in the orchards of the UK and helped people who did good deeds every day.

People said that the fairies had different appearances and personalities, sometimes looking like a grotesque monster or having an enchanting appearance, other times in the form of a dog or cow or looking like a human male or female. There were graceful fairies that made the flowers bloom, kind fairies that told people about a coming storm, frightening fairies that kidnapped human children, cheerful fairies that liked to sing and dance in the moonlit night, or those that confused travelers and even those that fell in love with human beings. People widely believed in fairies and there were stories of humans going to the land of the fairies and not coming back for decades or coming back mad.

These things may not be possible in the real world if considered logically.They may only be useless fables in the busy life of modern society. However, it is a fact that these anecdotes have survived even today and have continued to be handed down all of this time. In other words, I think they are very important.

What is called "fantasy" is not only limited to fairies but refers to something that we cannot see, hear or touch and as such is a concept that exists as a result of "only belief". As it is very personal in nature, the way of seeing it is different according to each person and it could be called a world that is fostered in the heart and mind of each individual.

So even for us living in the world of advanced civilization, just to think that fairies may be there even though we cannot see them helps us feel even more the appeal of the secret pathway in the backyard, the cold and frosty mornings, the tranquility of the forest and the untouched nature of the moors (wilderness and wetlands). We could say that the mystery of nature is a beautiful product that has been created in immeasurable ways and from the experience of being quietly sensitive to that bewildering and strange mystery, new stories and new views of the world can be created.

Human beings can feel their own inner self through the spiritual realm created by thoughts and ideas from associations, memory and experience. In other words, being exposed to the fantasy world of ideas enables you to have a new way of looking at the reality of the world in front of you and creates a further reality. Everything is created from this interaction and the world becomes a richer place to live in. I believe that this kind of experience is the essence of "fantasy".

Now, when the old apple tree is in front of your eyes in the real world, if you imagine the "Apple Tree Man" from before, it feels like a new spiritual world opens up at that time and place. These are the values that I believe are important. Fantasy never takes the place of reality, it supplements reality and therefore is neither an escape nor a lie.

It all depends on the person and it may be a difficult matter that each person has to decide for themselves. The author of "The Neverending Story" Michael Ende states in the book, "Only by having a sound inner world is it possible to heal the outer world." That is what would be the nature of fantasy.

Fairy paths and Pixy Moors―the fairies live here and there
These photographs are a continuation of the previous work Whispering with elves, trolls, and hidden-folks using a pin-hole camera without any multiple exposure or digital processing and always taken with a one shutter release and printed in a darkroom.

My purpose is not to prove that the appearance of fairies was captured as in the "The Case of the Cottingley Fairies" photographs but at the least I am given the impression that something mysterious was photographed beyond what can be seen with the naked eye. So, basically, if only visible materials can be captured in these photographs, what on earth can those phenomena be that appear in the photographs?

Finally I would like to say that an explanation based on scientific evidence would be easy but I believe that something different to this, a mysterious reason also exists. Based on the notion I have always held until now that "fantasy is a kind of truth that definitely exists by believing in feelings," I have taken the fantasies that are evoked within myself and tried to express them by combining the reality that could be seen there with the visual element of the "photograph" and responded to my view of the world in my own way. By putting my work together again here I hope that this attempt may give other people, even in just a small way, an opportunity to enrich their inner world.

Fairy Paths and Pixy Moors 精霊はそこここに宿る














『Fairy paths and Pixy Moors 〜 精霊はそこここに宿る』