2. Kip Fulbeck on the exhibition photography
This is Kip Fulbeck, I am the exhibition artist, designer, and photographer. For the photography for this exhibition, I was fortunate enough to be sponsored by Phase One, which is a company that created the most powerful camera ever invented. To put it in perspective, I could photograph someone at twenty feet and zoom in to their pores and still be in focus – it’s a pretty, pretty phenomenal technical tool. That said, shooting tattooing is inherently problematic, and it’s really difficult, because tattoos, if you think about it, they live and they die with their clients. Tattoos move, and they age, and they change, and trying to document them in a static image is almost impossible to do. And I can’t hide, doing that. I can’t hide behind my camera movement, or my composition, or my stylistics. It’s right there – you either get it right or you don’t. And it was really, really hard to do, as a documentarian.
So I thought what I would do in this exhibition is include these other shots, these candids and these close-ups, because I think that for the newcomer, looking at Japanese tattooing can be really intimidating at times. It is so visually dynamic, and so layered, and so rich when you think about mythology, and the thousands of years of tradition, and the folklore, and the regionalism. And it almost becomes a new visual language that I think is very easy for a newcomer to come in a just gloss over and just not be able to look at it – it just becomes this wash of design. So I thought having these candids and close-ups, along with the documentation of the full pieces, would allow a bit of breathing room, and a bit of humanism to make these clients, you know, show them as people as well as canvases of art. Because that’s essentially what I am – I mean, I wear the work of Horitomo and Horitaka, and I do that proudly. At the same time it’s my body, it’s moving and dying and living with me at the same time. And I wanted to try to capture that as a photographer in this exhibition.