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Things Japanese

21 images (2011 to present)


The Takenaka Corporation's Gallery A4 commissioned me to make a collection of images presenting Japan's finest historical carpenter's tools. Many of the tools were made in prior centuries and yet continued to emanate the aura of the craftsmen who made them. I became fascinated by the mystery of how the finest artists and craftsmen are able to breathe an aura into their works that can endure for generations. It something I strove to do when making my own glass plate negatives.


As I worked on this project I became intimate with the Japanese concept of takumi (匠). It refers to Japanese craftsmanship and this aura of excellence that they create. I've come to understand that it has to do with a special coordination of eye, hand and heart. This somatic integrity of intention allows craftspeople to breathe their soul into their work. I believe this is something that we don't often find in Western craftsmanship, except perhaps in Quaker furniture, or a musical instrument created by the Italian Stradivari family. In the West, when we see a great work of craftsmanship we feel the presence of God. Takumi has this kind of devotional quality as well. In Japan,  it is in abundance.


Where did this Japanese sensibility of takumi come from? Did it originate in China in the immensely creative Tang dynasty? Was it born out of the great arts and crafts tradition that began during the first flowering of Japanese culture in the Nara period? I believe it is much older. We can find it in pre-historic Jomon pottery and lacquer objects of 10,000 years ago in from the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. This series of images explores this spirit of takumi in its many shapes and my attempt to bring this spirit of takumi into my own work. 


The coordination between the eye, hand and heart that is characteristic of takumi has become something important in my own work. I attempt to integrate mind and body and spiritual coordination when I make my hand made glass negatives. 

This project was made possible through the generous support of the Takenaka Corporation, The Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum, and the Finnish National Museum of Arts and Crafts.


​Edition of 09

image sizes:

square 10.24" x 10.24" (260 x260mm),

paper size 13" x 12.5"  (330 x 320mm

vertical/horizontal  12 x 15" (304mm x 381mm) , 

paper size 16" x 20"  ( 406mm x 508)

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