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“…beyond any of those details of the real, there are dreams. And everyone’s living in them.” —Haruki Murakami, Kafka on The Shore
The moment that you are in is the moment that you will be in the next. Except maybe if it’s captured on a photograph. Can a moment exist in isolation? Life is rarely experienced in real-time; it’s so often a continuous blend of present, past, and future perspectives. As our brains filter and process the complexity of living in the world, thoughts race to catch up with time. Everything overlaps. We’re here, but we’re also elsewhere.
Mikiko Hara’s photographs mirror this unpredictable ebb and flow of experience. These moments are not taken from the world, but rather a reflection of its rhythm. People seem suspended, as though time could suddenly change directions. They are not lost in their thoughts, but floating in the current. A small child stands with its eyes closed in the warm glow from the sun. A woman’s attention is caught by something just off-frame. Golden flowers fly outside a train window. A koi press its face against the walls of its little world. A man turns, his gaze meets the lens. The click of the shutter illuminates a precise moment, whether you are inside or outside. The moment is always a blur, the past is always the next, and the present is never far behind.
Mikiko’s eyes and the camera’s viewfinder rarely, if ever, meet. Their connection is more perceptual than ocular—a relationship born from coincidence but bound by instinct. “I am the one operating the camera,” she says, “but which part of the image I was looking at and which part the camera was looking at remains undifferentiated for me.” It’s a collaboration with chance, an instant that exists between seeing and feeling, decision and serendipity, ones that transcend the photographer, subject, and viewer. “I want to escape from controlling the image with my own ideas. Perhaps it is fair to say,” she concludes, “that I have intended the unintentional.”
Connections are made by themselves. We start to notice things everywhere when we learn new information. It may have been everywhere from the start. It’s an illusion of frequency, a cognitive bias; what we see is never entirely objective. But that not-quite-articulable sensation of noticing—that out-of-nowhere feeling of an idea emerging, of intuition glimmering—carries a certain depth of authenticity found nowhere else. In a world of readily available answers, it’s an argument for uncertainty, for curiosity, and coincidence. “The camera is somewhat like a black box for me,” Hara says. “I feel that it brings something that goes beyond me, without me being able to clearly grasp what is happening.” Looking at her images is to wander in a mysterious daydream. She is the author of this dream, but it’s not hers or that of those whose lives are being observed. Photographs are recollections from moments that were not experienced, but lived. Maybe they make more sense than the world they’re collected from. It’s rare evidence, not of any one person’s reality but of this strange setting where we all happen to intersect—a place of magic, miracle, and of myth. —Alex Nicholson