Diorama Maps
Project info

"If anything, we are over-mapped today. Anyone with a screen can in a matter of seconds hone in on a country, a city, a street, a house, a doorway. It’s magic of a kind, I suppose, but then why does it so quickly wear off? Where is the wonder we feel when looking at medieval maps, when cartographers felt justified in filling terra incognita with imaginary islands and two headed-men?...Nishino’s giddy maps remind us that cities, for all their giddy chaos, are at the core miraculous human achievements."
—William A. Ewing

Rapid cultural and economic development creates a continuous process of amplification and accumulation within cities. I walk through these cities, camera in hand, capturing fragmentary views, some from above, some from below, that I then combine, one by one, in accordance with my memories, arranging them into a map that portrays all the singular aspects of the place. The result is quite different from the denotative expression of a map; it uses photographs (single 35mm frames) of concrete objects or shapes as units to recreate a geographical representation, expressing the city through human memories and images.

This means that the finished work is anything but an accurate map, it is simply the town as seen through the eyes of a single individual, an embodiment of my awareness, a microcosm of the life and energy that comprises the city. ‘Movement’ is always an important element in my ‘Diorama Map’ series. I come into contact with the subjects while moving en route to a certain place, and it is through these physical experiences that the work is created.

At the same time, by superimposing my own photographic activities on a map, it provides me with an opportunity to see the way in which I perceive the world that spreads out before my eyes. The creation of this work involved numerous processes, but all of them, down to the finest details, were carried out by hand, and for me, they can be said to form a part of my journey. I say this because I want to imbue the process of completing it with meaning, and consider the act of its creation, the act of traveling to the subject and using my own experiences of it, to be a search of my inner being. One of the questions I have had since I first began photography was not so much ‘what can I achieve through photography?’ as ‘what can I become through photography?’ and this is something that I have held dear as I carry out my work.

—Sohei Nishino