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Photo Ping-Pong: Kenta Nakamura Vs. Maarten Rots

Nakamura is a portrait photographer based between Tokyo and Fukuoka, his clean-lined work captures humor and personality in an understated way. Rots is a visual artist from the Netherlands, whose photographic work takes a more abstract form: “The camera gives me the opportunity to isolate reality, to frame it and to give it a new context” he explains. For Rots, the game was an opportunity to work in a new way, “It was interesting to experience working in a dialogue, instead of the usual ‘monologue’ I have become so accustomed to”, he tells us. The game became a dialogue between  Nakamura’s desire to contrast and Rots’ want to engage in visual discourse.

In our first set, Rots serves a painted wall almost incandescent in its glow. Nakamura returns, drawing upon ideas of opposition and similarity: “[I looked at the] contrast between the line drawn by natural light and digital clipping”, he explains — noting the moire effect present in both images due to separate plays of light. In the second set reflection plays shadow: the contrast, Nakamura says, between a silhouette and luminescence. In the third set, Rots serves an apartment block reflected in a window and cast over a set of sun-faded louvers. Nakamura responds to the softness of this visual with the hard steel lines of an escalator and acidic, bulging footwear.

As Nakamura takes the serve, we enter the second half of the match, his photograph of a bundle of inflated fish have their scales mirrored in Rots abstracted return. “Kenta’s photographs show an interest in patterns and textures — something that is also quite prominent in my own photographs, so this was on decision less to take and something that came quite naturally in taking the return photographs,” Rots explains. Nakamura’s second serve features some well-placed taxidermy animals and Rots returns with graphic shapes that echo the lines of the turtle cradled gently in Nakamura’s serve. In the final set Nakamura serves a delightful contrast of texture and color, to which Rots responds in turn: in both pictures, red edges on wood, while texture and lines move against one another.

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