Yuna Yagi (ARTIST/PHOTOGRAPHER)
In 2004, graduated from the Department of Architecture, Parsons College of Art, New York. After living in Canada, New York, and Berlin, she is currently based in Kyoto. Pursuing the truth of things through the experience of the act of "seeing," she presents two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and installation works that utilize the characteristics of photography to shake the sense of sight both domestically and internationally.
From childhood experiences to the world of architecture.
THE DIALOGUE 0004 focuses on artist Yuna Yagi, who graduated from the School of Architecture at Parsons School of Art in New York and worked in architectural design, but continues to create works based in Kyoto. We spoke to her about her early life, as she continues to present unique works using an architectural approach, such as creating installations and objects using photographs, with the theme of "changing perspectives."
Yuna happily talked about her childhood memories.
“My parents wanted me to see and experience the real thing, so they took me to a lot of production and exhibition sites, as well as places full of nature both in Japan and abroad. I was born and raised in such an environment. I've been very interested in making things since I was young, and I was planning to study product design in college."
“I remember being shocked by the presentation of 'sandals for aliens' designed by an American product designer professor before the university entrance examination. Product design is about solving problems in human life and activities. For me, who had always thought that the main focus was on what to do, the free perspective of imagining the lives of aliens I had never seen or met and creating things was very refreshing.”
Also Yuna Yagi noticed one thing while looking at her favorite furniture designs.
``While observing various types of furniture, I realized that most well-known furniture was often designed by architects. When I talked to my teacher about this, he said, ``Products and furniture are , it exists within a space, so if you don't consider the environment and situation in which it will be used, it will float.' 'For this reason, architects who design the space themselves need to It is only natural to design the furniture that will be installed in the home, and sometimes even the doorknobs and handrails. As I learned about the existence of people who think about making things from a broader perspective than just things, I realized that I wanted to design things from a broader perspective, including society, the environment, and the universe. I wanted to see the world from a larger scale and learn design from a broader perspective, and as a result, I decided to major in architectural design. I used to play with it when I was a child, so I think I've loved architecture since I was a child."
A few years later, Yuna Yagi transferred to Parsons School of Design in New York, where she devoted himself more seriously to studying architecture
The meaning of making a building.
When she transferred to a university in New York, she witnessed a major incident.
"September 11th (the terrorist attacks in the United States) happened. I believed that architecture could enrich people, but when I saw how architecture had taken the lives of so many people, it really hit me. I was shocked. New buildings keep being built one after another, but are they really of any value? Of course, I'm not looking at everything pessimistically. However, I don't think architecture is the source of someone's grudge. I think it was a big event for me to realize that I could buy and be targeted.”
After writing about this realization in an essay at university, she was introduced to a certain person by a university professor.
"I learned about an architect named Shigeru Ban. Mr. Ban is an architect who became famous for creating buildings using paper tubes, and he designed shelters during disasters, such as earthquakes and floods. Activities are also being carried out to ensure the safety of people affected by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. It was also used for rescue purposes during the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, contributing to protecting the lives and safety of many victims.9.11 After that, I was very depressed for a while, but through Mr. Saka's activities I gained courage and realized that architects can also do their part for people, so I decided to enter the world of architecture."
Yuna Yagi then began her career as an architect at the New York branch of Shigeru Ban Architects.
For individual free expression.
While pursuing a career in the architecture industry, how did she arrive at her current lifestyle as an artist? What was your first encounter with photography?
“As I was involved in an architectural project involving a large number of people, I began to feel that expressing myself more freely would suit my personality. I also had the will to change society, and I also wanted to take action in something that only I could do. So, decided to quit my job and explore architecture in Europe before my thoughts became too small. Continued to travel to various places and take photos of various buildings. ”
Meanwhile, he was captivated by an architectural photo of the work of a Swiss architect named Peter Zumthor.
"That photograph, which looked like a painting, was very innovative to me. At that time, I thought that photography was just for documentation, but when I saw this emotional and powerful photograph, realized that photographs can also have a human heart.'' I was moved by the power that photography has to move people. At that time, I was very attracted to the potential of photography as an expression of capturing one's own heart.''
After such an encounter, she returned to Japan and held a photo exhibition based on the photographs she had taken.
“After the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, I saw my mother, an environmental artist, launch a charity art project for the local community. I was really impressed with the attitude."
Personal photographic expression.
"I had several exhibitions, but something didn't quite feel right to me. I felt "I've had several exhibitions, but I always felt something was missing within me. I couldn't quite connect with the idea of simply framing a photo and hanging it on the wall as a form of expression. I went through a period of searching for what I wanted to convey through my photos. I pondered fundamental questions like 'Who am I?' and 'What is the world?' while gazing at the vast number of photos I had taken of architecture and nature.
"After taking a break and exploring how to express myself authentically, Yuna Yagi arrived at a unique method of expression that combined his origins, architecture, and photography," it is said
"When a single photograph becomes associated with another material, it transforms from two dimensions to three dimensions. The perspective, which existed on a flat surface, expands into the realm of three dimensions. In this three-dimensional form, the photograph undergoes unexpected transformations due to the effects of light refraction through the intervening materials, resulting in an unforeseen 'something.' What's crucial here isn't so much about what specific things one sees but rather realizing one's own presence in the act of 'seeing.' The act of 'seeing' is deceptively simple yet profoundly challenging. Typically, we perceive things within our familiar frameworks, interpreting experiences based on our predictions. However, harboring biases can strip experiences of their innate purity, making it difficult to perceive them objectively. By looking at things from multiple perspectives and questioning preconceived notions, the essence of things can become more vividly apparent. It is upon these ideas that the initial series of works was created, titled 'KENCHIKU,' where photographs were printed on acrylic blocks."
"KENCHIKU" is a three-dimensional artwork that involves printing architectural photographs onto acrylic blocks. It utilizes the visual effect created by the refraction of light, which causes the image to be reflected like a kaleidoscope.
"Fragments of Earth - pixels" is a series of artworks created by enlarging a single landscape photograph to the point where the image quality deteriorates to its limits, then dividing the enlarged image and printing the divided segments onto acrylic blocks.
A work created for KYOTOGRAPHIE's exhibition "The Record of Seeds" in 2021. She visited Masatoshi Iwasaki, a seed farmer in Unzen, Nagasaki Prefecture, and attempted to record the climate in his fields. Just as seeds record memories of the land, we used cyanotype, an ancient photographic technique, to record changes in the weather by storing water directly in a dish.
Architecture and nature.
Yuna Yagi often creates works mainly based on two objects: architecture and nature. She says that the way he approaches these two subjects is completely different.
"For me, the act of taking photographs of architecture is similar to reading a novel. I figure out the composition while deciphering the architect's intentions. On the other hand, when it comes to nature, at first I don't think I can turn it into a work. I never thought about it, because nature is already absolutely beautiful and perfect, so I didn't feel like there was any room for me to make a work of it. The reason for this is its overwhelmingly high resolution. No matter how close you get to the details, the natural world continues to a level that cannot be seen with the naked eye, and you can feel the cosmic mystery in this work. I began to think that by capturing the beauty through these images, people could discover a new perspective that many people don't know about. Also, when creating works using nature, I think about the impact on the earth, not on humans. It is certainly a big problem that people's lives are threatened by heavy rains and floods. However, this phenomenon may be an ecosystem necessary for the healthy survival of the earth. I want to value the health of the earth, and I want to respect that aspect as well as the human perspective. The result was "Fragments of Earth - pixels". "Fragments of Earth - pixels" is a work in which a single landscape photograph is enlarged to the limit where the image quality deteriorates, then divided into pieces and printed on acrylic blocks. Just as an image is made up of a collection of pixels, beautiful natural and architectural landscapes are also made up of a collection of fine substances and materials. By making it three-dimensional, you can see parts of the landscape from various angles and relationships with light, and by combining pieces with different patterns, you can complete a single landscape photo. ”
She continues to present her works powerfully while visiting various places. Lastly, we asked her about the world she aims to achieve through the creation of her work.
"I want our society to be peaceful. I think everyone has biased beliefs based on their own assumptions, but this is one of the reasons why various social problems and incidents still remain unresolved.'' I feel that this is due to people's biased consciousness.When I studied abroad in Canada as a student, I learned that the facts written in Japanese textbooks and the understanding of history described in local textbooks were different. I realized that people have different perceptions of the same fact due to different positions, circumstances, and sometimes political reasons.By having the experience of broadening each person's perspective, increasing their perspectives, and changing their perspective, they are able to see things from multiple perspectives. I hope that more people will be able to see things objectively and see their true nature.I believe that art has the power to do just that.”
“The earth where there are more people with diverse viewpoints and there is no conflict.”