Masashi Mihotani

Take what you want

Walking around Shibuya, Tokyo, one cannot help but encounter pocket tissues, flyers, and catalogues, often distributed by people standing on street corners or placed near the entrances to stations and shopping centers. Essentially these free handouts are advertisements, often produced and distributed for a brief period of time. In the process of creating this body of work, I began to see these items as the ephemera of a unique conglomeration of architecture, cultures, and eras that have arisen throughout Tokyo’s tumultuous history. By using them in place of film negatives, I am able to document an aspect of the city normally invisible to traditional cameras.

Beyond the information printed on their surfaces, these objects tell a story about consumer culture and mass production through font, word usage, support material, and halftones. Rearranging these found objects through collage allows me to create negatives which highlight fundamental elements of printed advertisements and function as snapshots embodying a specific point in time among the massive flow of consumerism within Tokyo. Additionally, the brief duration of this project, commissioned by a large company in Tokyo, meant that my own rapid actions in the darkroom took on the same qualities of production and consumerism which I was examining.