• 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

Portrait12

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 the summer of 2014 for a four-week freelance stint.

Most Recent: Photography View Archive

  1. List-kurt

    Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain is easily one of the most mythologised, eulogised and conspiracy-theorised musicians of the last century. Whether we consider his sad induction into the 27-club, his tumultuous relationship with Malaysia Airlines mystery-solving wallflower Courtney Love or the various mental and physical ailments that manifested themselves so intensely through his songs, Kurt’s was a life destined for scrutiny.

  2. List

    To say that Rebecca Reeve enjoys a magnificent view is not to do her work justice. The British-born, New York-based photographer has long been occupied with framing landscapes with domestic devices in her work, from placing a pair of translucent curtains around a mountain range and invoking the Dutch custom of covering paintings at the wakes of deceased family members to help them make the transition to the afterlife, to hanging a blind in front of a swamp to oddly effective ends. On an aesthetic level this unusual use of the prop partially obscures her chosen view, bringing a curious sense of mystery to the image, but the subversion of that familiar sense of domesticity resonates much further than surface level, creating an odd feeling of displacement with a surrealist slant.

  3. List

    A couple of weeks ago, Channel 4 aired a documentary (below) which saw photographer Giles Duley (himself a triple amputee) meet some of the disabled victims of the war in Syria. It was a difficult watch but an extremely important story to tell, and one that meant a lot to Giles. He got in touch to say that although The Guardian ran an in-depth piece on the same theme, he had some photographs which weren’t used that he was really keen to get out there.

  4. Main1

    Every once in a while it’s worth having a good old stare at the architecture around us. Often we simply stop noticing buildings because they’re so good at doing what they’re supposed to do; which is a shame because as well as functionality, there’s an overlooked beauty within those structures we can all appreciate.

  5. List

    If you ask me, the beauty of Maciek Pozoga’s work lies in the fact that it can’t be pinned down. He’s eternally “juggling between documentary, art and fashion,” as his website explains, resulting in a style which grows “from a specific conception of documentary images, naturalistic and authentic but tinged with poetry and humour.”

  6. Main

    I’m super into these portraits by Maya Fuhr, I think I spent about 45 seconds staring into the pond-coloured eyes of the guy two pics down. Maya’s got this magic touch when it comes to photography, her work is so simultaneously humble and powerful, making her the perfect candidate for quietly strong editorial and personal work. We’ve covered her editorial before – a brilliant photo shoot of girls in messy bedrooms – but something about the power of her portraits made us want to write about her again. She also recently opened up to us about her days as college a fresher, and the perils of choosing the wrong degree (with some brilliant photographs of her in 2008 to accompany it, naturally).

  7. List

    In December last year we received a zine in the post from Yorkshire-based photographer Christopher Nunn that documented a small selection of images he’d gathered in Ukraine. Kalush offered a unique perspective on a region that was thrust suddenly and violently into the public consciousness, showing us the quiet, everyday side of a place that – from television coverage at least – you’d have been forgiven for assuming was razed to the ground.

  8. Main_15.08.13

    Another one pilfered off Haw-Lin here I’m afraid, (I can’t help it if their taste is better than everyone else’s can I?). This charming selection of photographs of aesthetically-blessed chaps hanging out with pedigree dogs is by Philippe Jarrigeon, the man who once charmed us with square oranges back in the day. This shoot was commissioned by the spectacular Double Magazine, and is testament to why they’re currently on their 27th issue – they clearly know what they’re doing content-wise. If you think cute boys and pups are click-bait then I’d be inclined to disagree – the world needs happy photography, and you don’t get much more joy in an editorial than this. Like what you see? Let me point you this way to another fantastic shoot with a similar concept from 2012.

  9. List

    Unless you have self-consciously wacky parents, it’s likely you’ll have met someone with the same name first name as you. When you’re younger this can make you feel a less special but these days we just have to grin and bear it. The commonality of first names is a theme Tim Morris has focused on in his George series, which brilliantly catalogues famous Georges in visual form.

  10. .jpg?1413390909

    All too often these days we stumble across a jaw-dropping example of set design, only to discover the impressive final image is actually the result of some clever visual trickery and digital manipulation. That’s an impressive art unto itself, don’t get me wrong, but pure CGI can leave me feeling a little shortchanged.

  11. List

    The Daily Nice is one of those online phenomenons that’s been sizzling away in the big internet frying pan since 2004, and this month sees it celebrate its tenth birthday. If you’re not familiar with site (where have you been??), the idea is simple: every day its creator Jason Evans uploads one photograph of something that made him happy. There’s no archive, no social media feeds – just that picture taken by Jason on the site for 24 hours.

  12. Main

    Anyone who’s worked for Ryan McGinley is probably covered in a lil’ pinch of magic dust when it comes to photography. Eric Chakeen proves this point – his personal and commissioned shots are a wild mix of humour and professionalism that is hard to come by. Working in New York, Eric’s skill lies in his ability to roam the streets and take portraits of people with true personality. From a guy munching on a cigar on a scooter to a dog in a post-vet neck cone, anything he turns his lens on turns to gold. You could argue that it doesn’t take much to get a good shot of Alexa Chung, but would many people choose to photograph her in such a stripped-back way? I think not. How great to see someone doing something that so many people are experimenting with right now, but adding that extra bit of style and wit. Cool guy.

  13. List

    I’ve had a soft spot for Akos Major’s photography for a long time now and his project Waters has been added to my virtual ‘like’ pile with no hesitation.