Naoya Hatakeyama

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Naoya Hatakeyama on what’s awe-some

Photographer Naoya Hatakeyama explains his approach to landscape photography in relation to aesthetic concepts of the beautiful and the sublime.


Naoya Hatakeyama on what’s awe-some

Naoya Hatakeyama: The sublime
August 2012

Naoya Hatakeyama: When you read the books by, for instance, Immanuel Kant, he is defining the two notions, the beautiful and the sublime, very clearly. After arriving in San Francisco, I often heard the word awesome. Yeah? A-W-E-some—awesome. That’s the sublime, maybe, originally. The subject matter like the high mountains, like [the] Alps, the ocean in a storm, or disaster, sometimes, [or] a gigantic animal like a whale, such kinds of things—too big, or too broad, or too dangerous, or something like that. If you see the world around you, [there are] beautiful things everywhere. But when you express that beauty just on the canvas, or take [a] photograph, it’s not interesting very often. Why?

If you see the beautiful—the beautiful is like the small path in the garden, and you have blue sky and charming clouds and flowers. Yeah, that’s the beautiful. But if you stand on the top of the mountain, when you see the very steep peaks of [the] Alps, it’s not beautiful. Modern people sometimes call that—“Oh, this is beautiful.” But historically, it’s wrong. And whenever I see those kinds [of] things, all of a sudden I feel myself totally alone in this world. And I feel I am looking at the end of this world or the edge of this world, and I’m imagining what there is just beyond that point. That’s not the beauty. It’s awesome, yeah? Awesome. [laughs]

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Works in the Collection by Naoya Hatakeyama