Takashi Homma: Revolution 9

8th Jan 2024

In a city, one is always being watched - and often captured on camera - whether on purpose or by chance. Takashi Homma’s photo series The Narcissistic City turns this notion inwards, in images that he says “use the city to shoot the city”. As he travels to cities around the world, the artist uses hotel rooms as pinhole cameras. Conceptually brilliant and expertly achieved, light that creates the images streams in through a small hole, open to the outside, reproducing inverted urban landscapes inside the pitch-black room.

Such a technique is not only radical in its approach, but thoughtful, even tender, when it comes to considering place, space and stories that are made beneath our skylines. In a soon-to-be-ending show at Tokyo’s TOP Museum - Homma’s first Japanese solo show in years - the layout reflects the process of capturing these images. Works are displayed on the walls of rooms that encircle one central room. This room can’t be accessed, but instead, viewers peer inside through large peepholes designed to mimic Homma’s pinhole camera technique. The central room also exists as if to represent those rooms that were used as cameras obscurae in the making of the images themselves. In this way, the show continues visual representations and conversations around viewership in cities.

There is a focus on improvisation in the exhibition, entitled Revolution 9. Homma explains, “The title is, of course, from a Beatles song, their only music concoction, well, noise, a sound collage.” John Lennon said of the song that he was trying to paint a picture of a revolution using sound. Inspired by Yoko Ono’s avant-garde art, Lennon put a collection of voices together for the track. In the show, Homma and his musical collaborators have done numerous musical performances playing piano, steel pans, and various electronic instruments to accompany viewing of the work. “Music, or rather sound, is important to me,” Homma says, “not background music. I want to do photography and music at the same level.”

Homma’s instagram handle, @seeing_itself, also gives elegant insight into the Tokyo-based photographer’s motivations. His images explore how we see. “I am a Tokyoite,” he states, considering perceptions of the city in his work. “I will continue to photograph Tokyo. How does it look? It is up to the viewer to decide.”

His new book, 2023 AW Istanbul Collection is an edition of DoBeDo’s 6x4 photobook series, and sees fishermen captured on a bridge in another city: Turkey’s largest. The characters are candid, focused as they lean their rods and tackle over the structure. Homma’s way of maintaining a certain distance from his subjects is a process he describes as fluid; “I try not to press the shutter as much as possible.” The Istanbul series are shot on his iPhone, but in their printed form in the photobook - as if beloved travel memories, souvenirs - the images take on yet another perspective. As in the exhibition, the viewer considers, how do we see a city through its scenes?

6 October 2023 - 21 January 2024

Tokyo Photographic Art Museum
〒153-0062 Tokyo, Meguro City,
Mita, 1 Chome−13−3