Beyond Spheres Project and the Bicentennial of Thoreau’s Birth
Koichiro Kurita’s work from the project Beyond Spheres will be exhibited at the Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester, MA from April 6 through May 28, 2017. The photographs in this show explore in visual form Thoreau’s reflections on the timeless relationship that exists between man and nature and serve as Kurita’s answer to the question, “What if Thoreau had been a photographer?”
Into the Sky Southold,NY 2010
Thoreau's Cove, Walden. Concord 2016
About the project: “What If Thoreau Had Been a Photographer?”
Kurita launched the Beyond Spheres project in 2010 as a logical extension of his search for an answer to this question. The aim of the project was, and is, to give pictorial form to Thoreau’s ideas and writings by employing a photographic method existing in Thoreau’s time and invented by a contemporary, William Henry Fox Talbot, who created the Calotype process. Kurita explains, “I have two mentors. One is Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), who urged a re-experience of the relationship between nature and humans. The other is William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877), who taught what photography is. Beyond Spheres is about my visual journey which, in its conclusion, will be an address of gratitude to my two mentors whom I have never met.” Kurita’s approach provides a unique opportunity to experience Thoreau’s philosophy of man’s relationship to nature in visual form and demonstrates the value of photography—slow photography, made by hand—in today’s fast paced world.
Handmade Photography with Calotype Paper Negatives
Kurita has chosen to work with Calotype, an early photographic process invented by William Henry Fox Talbot in 1841, in which a paper negative is produced and then used to make a positive contact print by exposure to sunlight. The Calotype emulsion requires processing just before exposure and development must be done on location. This process, which preceded the glass plate and subsequent film technologies, is a slow process and its unique beauty is closely aligned to the nature of paper. Once the negatives are created they are placed against albumen or salt print paper, and contact printed with the sun. Kurita currently has about 60 images printed from Calotype negatives in sizes from 8”x10” to 16”x30” and, in this final phase, will create more work to be shown in upcoming exhibitions.
Photographing NY, ME, the “World of Walden”, MA and the Concord River Watershed
With the launch of the Beyond Spheres project in 2010 Kurita began to create Calotype work on the East End of Long Island, NY and in Maine (2010-2013). From 2014 to 2015, after moving his studio to Lowell, MA, the photographer focused on capturing the “World of Walden” in and around Concord, MA, where Thoreau built the cabin where he lived for two years, two months and two days. It was this experience that led the author/philosopher to write Walden, the work that has inspired readers, including Kurita, for so many years. Starting in October, 2015 and through 2016 the focus of the project shifted to exploring and photographing remote and hidden sites, often only accessible by canoe, along the Ipswich, Concord, Assabet, Sudbury and Merrimack Rivers in an effort to retrace portions of the 1839 journey chronicled in Thoreau’s book A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers.
About the Artist
Koichiro Kurita studied perceptual psychology and used camera for his experimental research when he was a college student. The American writer, poet, philosopher and naturalist Henry David Thoreau has been a great inspiration to Koichiro Kurita since he read Walden in the mid of 1980's. His encounter with this book set him on a new path, he gave up his career of commercial photography and he has been working with nature landscapes for more than 25 years. In the early 1990's Kurita came to the United States on a grant from the Asian Cultural Council Foundation, created by John D. Rockefeller 3rd to encourage international dialogue between artists and scholars in Asia and the United States. Kurita has continued his exploration of what Thoreau described as "the harmonious relationship between nature and humanity".
Kurita's works have been exhibited and collected internationally by numerous galleries and museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Harvard Art Museums, the Museum Fine Arts, Houston, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Maison Europeenne de la Photographie, the Biblioteque Nationale de France, Paris, Tokyo Fuji Art Museum and many others.