• Article

    Nerhol: Misunderstanding Focus

Photography

Japanese duo Nerhol talk about their triumphant time-lapse cut-away portraits

Posted by Rebecca Fulleylove,

Being photographed is never a pleasant experience for me, the best you’ll get is a begrudging smile with flushed cheeks, the worst is an unsuspecting relative being thrown into flash as I dive behind them. It’s not big or clever, but I just don’t like it. This makes me admire the subjects of creative duo Nerhol’s latest project involving time lapse photography and paper cutting. Taking multiple portraits over a three minute period, Ryuta Iida and Yoshihisa Tanaka asked the subject to try and stay as motionless as possible (worst nightmare). The stack of images are then sliced through to create a graduated crater effect, showing the passage of time like the rings of a tree.

Warped, layered and wondrous, this new set of works, Misunderstanding Focus, is currently on show at limArt in Tokyo and looking through their portfolio of paper-cut pieces it’s clear they have a knack for transforming the 2D into 3D by stripping the materials they use of their original function and turning them into just objects to manipulate and alter. There’s a delicate skill and art to their work, so we had a chat with Nerhol so they could describe the process of working together…

How and why did your working relationship start?

We met during IIda’s exhibition and realised we had so much in common in regards to experience, design and taste. Gradually, we began working together. Our very first piece, Oratorical Type, used books as the theme, after sculpting them by carefully carving out certain sections of each page, it resulted in interesting dimensions. At that time, we still hadn’t decided on our name but soon came up with “NERHOL”, a mash-up of two words, “neru” to plan ideas and “holu” to sculpt and carve.

  • 1

    Nerhol: Misunderstanding Focus

  • 3

    Nerhol: Misunderstanding Focus

What is the distinction between your individual contributions to the artwork? For example, is one responsible for sourcing imagery and the other for deconstructing it?

We brainstorm together but the physical work is divided. Tanaka is in charge of designing the layout, shooting and printing and Iida takes care of the sculpting process. We give each other feedback during the process of final touches. Often we discuss the rules and the process and even give each other directions on how to approach a piece physically.

There are times when we find sources of inspiration separately, but for the most part, we decide everything together. Because of the nature of our work, it’s difficult to determine where the construction ends and from where the deconstruction begins, but we always share the same artistic philosophy.

What do you hope to achieve by working as a team?

Our goal is to break the invisible barrier that separates design and contemporary art. We hope to set new standards through our work and to free ourselves and the audience from being bound by categories. At least, we hope to spark this way of thinking.

Is the work you make together very different from your individual practices? 

Yes, it’s completely different from what we create together. Some aspects are similar method-wise, but the themes, concepts and contexts are completely different.

  • 7

    Nerhol: More

  • 8

    Nerhol: More

Do you know what an artwork will look like when you start working on it?

Of course we share a vision of what to expect in terms of end result, but not in complete detail. Since we assign ourselves separate roles, the finished work is often different from what we originally envisioned. Keeping in mind, the fact that we both approach a particular piece under the same philosophy, we’re faced with situations that is out of our individual control, rather at the mercy of two different people. This process, in a sense, magnifies the slightest fluctuations of the human body as well as art itself. Nonetheless, the final form is always a nice surprise and experience.  

What can you tell us about the story behind your work in this show?

It wasn’t easy to get this far but we’re both very content with the results and especially pleased with the fact that we were able to successfully integrate our slant on photography through our work.

In Japan, photography is strongly established in both contemporary art and design so we’re very proud that we were able to cut into this field in our own unique way. Our work has been coined, “Time-Lapse Portraits” on the internet and I think it capture the essence of what we’re trying to accomplish.

(Coordination&Translation : NORIKO YAMAKOSHI/iNTOUCH Japan LL)

  • 9

    Nerhol: Tezuka

  • 4

    Nerhol: Atmosphere

  • 5

    Nerhol: Atmosphere

Becky-picture

Posted by Rebecca Fulleylove

Rebecca joined us as an editorial intern after studying at Norwich University College of the Arts. She originally wrote for the site between March and June 2012 and returned in May 2015 as an editorial assistant.

Most Recent: Photography View Archive

  1. Raymond_cauchetier_itsnicethat_list

    During the 60s Raymond Cauchetier was a film set photographer on some of the most important films of the French New Wave. From À Bout de Souffle to Jules et Jim, Raymond was among the stars and directors that made this period of time so remarkable including Jean Seberg, Anna Karina, Francois Truffant and Jean Luc Godard. His photos were originally intended for continuity and sometimes publicity, but Raymond saw himself as more of a photojournalist and captured images that showed all of the set: shooting on handheld cameras, the unplanned scenes and the initial conversations between the actors and directors.

  2. Perou-itsnicethat-list

    Japanese lesbian turned shaven-headed Marilyn Manson documentarist and portrait photographer is quite the trajectory. Throw into that timeline a period spent considering being a long-distance lorry driver or Christian missionary in Africa, and you’ve got the story of either a deeply fascinating individual or a bit of a raconteur. Photographer PEROU, we reckon, is both. 

  3. Alina-asmus-itsnicethat-list

    Photographer Alina Asmus studied and worked as a fashion designer in Israel, London and Berlin before deciding to turn her hand to fashion photography, and her rigorous training in clothing construction and the nature of textiles is clear from the off in her work. The photographer couples her clean, pared-back aesthetic with unusual artistic direction to capture unseen angles and sculptural forms, glimpsing the strange ways fabrics fall over the body.

  4. Jack-davison-london-int-list-3

    London photographer Jack Davison is fast making a name for himself with his singular lens. Crisp with just the right amount of grit, his portraits are timeless in their subject whilst being modern in their execution. Swinging between a pensive documentary style in black and white and experimental plays of colour and composition, Jack’s work is a study in contrast.

  5. Mariette_pathy_allen_itsnicethat_list

    Mariette Pathy Allen’s photographs are striking because they’re unlike any series about the transgender community I’ve seen before. Rather than focusing on the the theatrics and glamour often presented to us, Mariette wanted to capture the everyday life of a community who were choosing to live in the gender that felt most comfortable to them. Mariette’s photographed the transgendered community for 30 years now but that first photograph was completely by luck. “In 1978 I was in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. I stayed in the same hotel as a group of cross-dressers who invited me to join them for breakfast on the last morning,” Mariette explains. “When I took a group picture, I was moved by looking into the eyes of one of the people in the group. I felt as though I was looking at the essence of a human being, rather than a man or woman.”

  6. Juno-calypso-itsnicethat-list-2

    If your idea of a dreamy night in is to check in to a couple’s suite at the Honeymoon Hotel in Pennsylvania alone and armed with nothing but a camera, a suitcase full of wigs, a number of questionable-looking beauty devices and a can of foreign hot dogs, then you’ve found a kindred spirit in Juno Calypso. “It was awkward,” she says. The London-based photographer captured our hearts and that dark place in our minds that’s usually devoted to Stanley Kubrick and Cindy Sherman with her last series back in 2013. That was when we first met Joyce, her alter-ego.

  7. Emily-maye-itsnicethat-list

    When we caught up with Emily Maye this week, she was halfway through a mad tour of Colombia, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Switzerland, with France still to come. “Then home for some rest!” she told us. In hindsight, it’s something of a miracle we were able to catch her at all.

  8. David_graham_where_we_live_list

    “I am not comfortable with the term ‘Americana’,” says photographer David Graham. “My photographs are often about people’s passions – the way they have painted their house, the kind of car they own, the sculpture they built in their front yard, the way they dress up for a parade or how they have taken on the impersonation of a celebrity or historic figure,” he explains. For over 30 years David has taken to the road, working with archetypes of American vernacular photography from the snapshot to the family portrait to holiday pictures. In his tireless cross-country documentation of the American cultural landscape, he manages to colourfully capture the run-of-the-mill and the offbeat in the same image, allowing the ordinary to seem surreal and vice versa. This is what makes his photographs surprising and familiar at the same time.

  9. Alexander_short_selfie_stick_itsnicethat_list

    Probably the number one stocking filler of Christmas 2014, the selfie stick has only heightened the narcissism epidemic and further perpetuated the social media notion that if you don’t document your face at a place then you were never there. In Alexander Short’s series Take a Good Look at Yourself, he perfectly encapsulates how hilarious these selfie stick portraits look to the people around them. Like the technological equivalent of shouting that you’re having a great time, it’s hilarious to see people on their own, in couples or big groups so determined to get these perfect self-portraits.

  10. Its-nice-that-list-03riccardo-banfi---tnx-2013

    The connotations of club photography are more Chupa-Chup sucking gurners than chiaroscuro, so it’s a pleasant surprise to see the world of dance music depicted in sensitive monochrome usually associated with more genteel pursuits. Milan-based photographer Riccardo Banfi has recently put together Tnx , a book of his images shot at house music club TENAX in Florence. They’re gorgeous portraits that cast a calmness over the mania of clubbing, capturing dance as an artform and clubbing as a valid cultural pursuit. The book’s publisher, Yes I Am Writing a Book, says: “The pictures in Tnx … throw us in the middle of TENAX’s crowd and corridors, with a rhythmical and pressing sequence, trying to convey through images the formal exactness of a [dance] track.”

  11. Amy-lombard-itsnicethat-list

    Nail art is something of an overlooked discipline on It’s Nice That – it’s not often it really flits into our line of vision – so when Amy Lombard got in touch last week to tell us she had collaborated with nail artist Natalie Pavloski on a series of photographs featuring some spangly fingertips, we couldn’t really say no. The photographer has employed her signature bright, saturated style to capture Natalie’s work clasping at greasy burgers, fried chicken, slices of pizza and the odd corn dog, “from White Castle to Taco Bell,” as Amy says, and the resulting shots are as glorious and grotesque as they come. Match made in heaven?

  12. Dana-stirling_dead-water_03its-nice-that-list

    While “ruin porn” as it’s so charmingly known is nothing new, there’s more to Dana Stirling’s work than simply exhuming decrepit architecture with her lens. The series Dead Water shows the Kibuts Kalia Atraktzia water park near the Dead Sea in Israel, a site that holds personal significance for the artist. “The Atraktzia [was] an oasis of sweet water in the sea of death,” Dana explains. “Many Israelis share memories of Atraktzia as part of their tradition of family vacations and weekends. I have never had the chance of experiencing it for myself, yet I grew up knowing of a miraculous fantastic oasis in the middle of nowhere.”

  13. Isabel_magowan_cygnets_itsnicethat_list

    Isabel Magowan’s series Cygnets is a magnificent portrayal of youth in all its forms. It’s the baby swans’ temperament that inspired Isabel, with their graceful and delicate appearance often undercut by their fierce tendencies. “All the individuals in my images are young, their perspective and attitude towards life only just forming,” New York-based Isabel explains. “There is a period where innocence is chipped away as one becomes self-aware, increasingly meeting societal expectations and ideas.”