In his series “Windows”, Japanese photographer Yoshiyuki Okuyama presents a vast number of photographs of windows taken in Tokyo between April 2020 and November 2022, the period of the Corona pandemic.
Many windows in the Japanese capital, one of the most densely populated places in the world, feature frosted or opaque glass. Further, Okuyama’s photographs separate the windows from all surrounding context: no window frames, no walls, no buildings, no address, no locality. In each shot, we can only get a hazy glimpse of the life that may unfold on the other side of the window, projected onto the glass window as if it were a screen or the canvas of a painting. Okuyama’s series captures the visual beauty and diversity that emerges from these conditions, but it also plays with our imagination (what may these shapes be? what do these rooms look like on the inside?).
“From as far back as I can remember, whenever I went for a walk I would look at the windows of homes and always enjoy imagining what it was like living there, what kind of people lived there, how did they feel in living their everyday life … We want to keep out the heat and cold and the wind and rain but let in the sunlight. The window seems to be a paradoxical product that satisfies the conflicting desires of human beings to create a pleasant indoor environment while also enjoying the benefits of the outdoors, and at the same time it serves as an interface that links individuals and society.
In the opaque windows—arguably a sort of symbol of Tokyo with its complex layers of culture and buildings crowded together—I saw the facial expressions of people.
I felt that looking at windows is tantamount to strangers looking at one another.”
― from Yoshiyuki Okuyama’s foreword
In addition to the artist’s foreword, “Windows” also includes essays by the writer Toshiyuki Horie and the architecture critic Taro Igarashi (all texts in Japanese and English).