About Hashigraphy


The world I create in HASHIGRAPHY does not simply recapitulate the past, but rather, gazes back on us in the midst of time’s fierce transformations from a point far off in the future. It reaffirms the importance of time itself. The past is by no means simply time that has already passed, but rather a starting point connected to the future by way of the present. And in truth, the future too will inevitably become the past some day.

This HASHIGRAPHY “Future Déjà Vu” which I have worked on since 1987 may also be thought of as my visual mementoes. When I was in junior high, my best friend happened to show me a stalactite about ten centimeters long at his house. This friend later majored in earth sciences in college and asked me to accompany him to shoot some photographs at a survey of a limestone cave. There, he informed me that it takes sixty years for a stalactite to grow one centimeter. So, a simple calculation reveals that a stalactite one meter long must have taken some six thousand years to form. I recall being struck then by the mysteries of time and imagining what the future would look like. A stalactite is accreted one drop at a time. It is a beautiful sight that is made possible by each and every one of those drops, just as the world is created one moment at a time. At the time however, I did not realize how deeply this experience would influence the concept of time in my works.

When I view the things that past artists have started and which our ancestors have bequeathed to us, diverse images instantly come to me of their lives and experiences, as well as the passage of time between then and now. The unique world of HASHIGRAPHY was born from my attempt to capture these images with my lens and compose them with calligraphy technique.

In each work, the ripped and shredded borders of the photographic paper and its heavily worn cloth-like appearance suggest a remnant from time immemorial, frayed, torn and steeped in time and history. These are works created through a collaboration of the past and present, from the point of view of the future. No matter how healthy we are now, and no matter how much we yearn for longevity, our bodies are destined to disappear from this world when our time is up. Nevertheless, our spirit and those of all existing things can survive as images. HASHIGRAPHY embodies the visual mementoes of our age, created with the assumption of entrusting them to a future one thousand years from now.

Time is change and transformation. There will be a vague anxiety toward its ceaseless flow, and a resignation toward the fact that all things will inexorably fade away. But it may also help us realize the importance of the things that we must leave for the future and what we must communicate to the future world. Yet, what is the “now” that we should pass on to the future? For me, it’s something that lets you say, “I must have seen this before.” If people term that déjà vu, then my HASHIGRAPHY is déjà vu as seen from a future time. There are traces that endure in our hearts and cannot be erased. There are genes, we have inherited from the past, which cannot be forgotten or destroyed even in these fast changing times. We will bequeath these to the next generation, and the generation after that. But one thousand years from now, what will remain, and what will have been preserved from our present moment? I wonder what you, the viewer, will take away from these works as you stand before them: feelings of anxiety, resignation or realization? Perhaps they might even trigger your own “Future Déjà Vu.”

by Yasuomi Hashimura