WALK / SANPO
Walking and photographing have been inseparable since I picked a camera for the first time. Both walking and photographing are incredible systems for learning, for knowing, a landscape. When combined together these two systems create a feedback loop that blossoms into an intensity of vision that both transforms and reveals a nearly hallucinogenic, heightened, hyper-personal vision of the world. Walk/Sanpo is the result of this meandering process through Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo district.
Little Tokyo is a nexus of both current cultural and historical forces. Originally one of earliest large settlements of Japanese immigrants in America, who started the Western hemisphere’s flower trade, it was depopulated during WWII when it’s residents were forced in to internment camps. By the time the disposed Japanese population had returned, Downtown Los Angeles was already sliding toward being an urban wasteland with a small collection of temples, specialty markets and ancient apartments huddled beside the hollow. With the current revitalization of Downtown and the increasingly obsession over Japanese culture, Little Tokyo has become one of the hottest neighborhoods in the city, especially as a living destination for the thriving Korean community, and as a hangout for young partiers. Some even call the area, which adjoins the equally exploding Arts District, L.A.’s Brooklyn.
But with this newfound popularity Little Toyko’s identity has multiplied like reflections in a house of mirrors, often with a large degree of self-awareness that it is having to perform a very stereotypically Japanese version of itself for giddy visitors even as it’s historical buildings are torn down and it’s community spread to the winds. Dissonance, mutation, confusion, anxiety and alienation plague me, so I was drawn to this area just outside my door, whose very troubles (and successes) I had unwittingly contributed to by moving to the area as an artist. Through the feedback loop of walking and photographing, I wanted to capture the feeling of being battered by these currents of swirling intensity, washing across and reshaping the city's landscape.