The Forest, or The Vanishing Point (2016~)

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森、あるいは消失点 (2016~)

富士山の裾野の北西に拡がる青木ヶ原樹海では、毎年30~50体の自殺体が発見される。自治体などの対策で自殺者数は減少傾向にあるとはいえ、カリフォルニアの金門橋のように今も特定の人々を惹き付け続ける場所である。遊歩道から少し外れただけで、彼方此方に人の痕跡は簡単に見つかる。もと来た道に戻る為に張り巡らされたスズランテープ、幾夜を明かした焚火の跡、睡眠薬、手紙、靴。海底に沈んでも分解されず堆積し続ける残留物たち。溶岩を覆う浅い苔の層の上に、生まれたと同時に朽ち続ける若い森に、何が人々の手を引くのか。何が彼らを永遠に押しとどめるのか、知りたかった。

森で亡くなる方の死因の大半は、縊死(首吊)である。頸動脈を圧迫した瞬間から意識が消失するまでは10±3秒。同じ時間だけシャッターを開け、彼らが最期に見たであろう光景を写真に焼き付けた。そうして定着した像は風に揺れる事物の輪郭が曖昧にぼやけ、互いに地続きの生と死をひたすら往還するような景色が得られた。

そうして写真を撮っていると、ふと自分が森に見られているような気がした。写真を撮る側の自分は、対象を一方的に見ている、という特権意識を心のどこかで常に持っている。しかし何処までも続く苔の浅瀬を渡るうちに、何かに確かに覗き返された、と感じた。
 

ある頃から、この森によく似た夢を何度も繰り返し見るようになった。

いつだって、そこで死んでからが長い夢だった。

In the forest called 'Aokigahara' that spreads across the northwestern foot of Mt. Fuji, 30 to 50 bodies of suicide victims are found each year. Even though the numbers of suicide cases have been decreasing due to the measures taken by local governments and other organizations, The forest is still attracting some people like the Golden Gate Bridge.

If you go off the trail just a little, you can easily spot items left by humans everywhere, such as ropes left along the path as a return sign in order not to get lost, sleeping pills, letters, shoes, and traces of campfires to light up the night, and items left behind that cannot decompose naturally, even if they sink to the seafloor.

Here, people are drawn to a young forest that grows on a layer of moss over hardened lava and keeps on changing over time. I wished to know what has kept them there in eternity.

Most people died in the forest by hanging themselves. It is said that a person has 10±3 seconds from the moment of carotid artery compression until he/she loses consciousness. I opened my camera shutter for the same amount of time in front of the forest where they finished their lives to take pictures of what they probably had seen at the end. By this technique, I could obtain images with blurry objects that moved due to the wind with landscapes where life and death come and go continuously.

I had an impression like I was being watched by the forest while I took the pictures. As a photographer, I always feel that I have the privilege of seeing my subjects unilaterally. However, every time I go through the wide-ranging field of moss, I feel like something watches me back.

Since one time in the past, I started to dream of something similar to this forest over and over again.

Each time, it has always been a long dream starting with me dying there.