At least four Japanese artists have been internationally acknowledged for their work recently – threein the past month alone. In addition to their shared heritage, Yume Cyan, Tsuneaki Hiramatsu, Yuki Karo and Yayoi Kusama also share a passion for a certain curious, effulgent insect that has captivated almost every child at one point or another: the lambent firefly.
While little personal information is available on Mr. Cyan, he seems to be an amateur on the local Japanese photography scene, having only surfaced with the publication of his firefly photos this past year.
His photos were taken in the forests surrounding Nagoya, a central Japanese city that is said to be named for its peaceful – nagoyaka (なごやか) – aura. Leaving his shutter open for nearly 30 seconds, Mr. Cyan has created a short series of magical photographs featuring fireflies at dusk.
Another Japanese amateur whose photography has gone viral in recent months is Tsuneaki Hiramatsu.
A native of Okayama City, also in central Japan, Mr. Hiramatsu’s work is distinct as is evidenced by the complexity of his images, ranging from single to merged series of exposures in the nearby Niimi forests. He was recently profiled by the February 2014 publication of the Smithsonian Magazine and was also included in a traveling exhibition entitled “Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence”, which stopped by the Field Museum in Chicago as well as the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. According to Mr. Hiramatsu, “ When I feel the splendor and mystery of nature, I am glad to have everyone share that feeling.”
Similarly, Yuki Karo has established herself for her firefly photographs, also taken around Okayama City, although hers are marked by much longer exposures which allow for a visual of the paths these slow-moving creatures take.
Lastly, although not an amateur photographer but a world-renowned installationist, one of Ms. Yayoi Kusama’s “infinity rooms” was recently featured in an exhibition in at David Zwirner Gallery in New York City. The installation, entitled “You Who Are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies”, is now lodged at the Phoenix Art Museum. Inspired by a Japanese folk tale about fireflies, the installation takes up a 25 square foot room lined with mirrors and black granite and decorated with over 250 programmed LED lights. According to the artist, the work allows viewers to experience a unique isolation.
Ms. Kusama has had a long career in art, beginning in the 1950s and known for covering a multitude of surfaces with polka dots. She has been voluntarily living in a mental hospital in Japan since the 1970s, producing art all the while.
Fireflies are a trend that continually resurface, so stay vigilant for future waves of firefly photographers and artistic interest in insects. To see more of Mr. Cyan’s work, visit his 500px.com site. To see more of Mr. Haramatsu’s work, click here. To see more of Ms. Karo’s work, click here. For more information on Yayoi Kusama, you can visit her personal website.