“Michael Wolf’s Tokyo Compression focuses on the craziness of Tokyo’s underground system. For his shots he has chosen a location which relentlessly provides his camera with new pictures minute by minute.
Every day thousands and thousands of people enter this subsurface hell for two or more hours, constrained between glass, steel and other people who roll to their place of work and back home beneath the city. In Michael Wolf’s pictures we look into countless human faces, all trying to sustain this evident madness in their own way.” Christian Schüle (https://www.lensculture.com/articles/michael-wolf-tokyo-compression)
“Let’s talk about your work Tokyo Compression which is very successful as a book and in exhibitions as well. It deals with the daily hell in the subway of Tokyo. How long did you work on it and what triggered you to do it?
MW: The first time that I became aware of this situation was in 1997, I think. I was working on an story for Stern magazine in Tokyo. This is how I happened to be on this one train station. The peculiar thing about this station is that there is only one track and not two. So when the people get in on one side of the train I can get right up next to the window of the other side. There’s no track separating me from the train. So I took a series of five pictures at that time. When I got back to Hongkong and looked at the developed Kodachromes they were so powerful, the way these people were looking out of the window so I filed them away in my folder for future reference with topics I want to do at some point. In 2008/2009 I went back and spent a total of thirty days there. Always from Monday to Friday, always during rush hour in the morning from 7.30 until about 8.45. Every thirty seconds a train would roll in, I would take my pictures and at 8.45 I would go back to the hotel.
You worked very close, but in the book the images are cropped, right?
MW: Yes, I worked extremely close. I could get up to 3 or 4 inches away. In the beginning I wasn’t really sure how I was going to solve this problem conceptionally. I had photographed a lot of total windows and inside of each window of the train there would be three, four or five faces. In-between I would go up closer. When I was editing the project and thinking about how I was going to show it and how I was going to publish it I realized that conceptionally it would work best if they are all cropped very close to the faces. So I basically took every picture and set my crop tool to 8 by 10 inches. Of course some of the files are a bit smaller and I would need to make a big – say 30 by 40 inch – print. But what I realised is that by printing them with an inkjet printer on a hahnemühle rag paper you get an almost painterly quality which really endorses what the images have to say.” Michael Wolf (http://www.seconds2real.org/2011/02/07/interview-with-michael-wolf/)
Please note: All images and texts are protected by Copyright and belong to the Artist.