• 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. List_michael_james_obrien_girlfriend_itsnicethat

    For the past 30 years, Michael James O’Brien has photographed drag queens from around the world. His latest exhibition Girlfriend, on show at Liverpool’s international photography festival now, displays wonderfully glamorous images that encapsulate the freedom, majesty and spirit of drag culture.

  2. List-its-nice-thativar-wigan_princess_2012

    Images of gangs and strippers are nothing new, and their creation is fraught with the risk of appearing insensitive and patronising at best, exploitative at worst. So for them to pique our interest, they have to be very special. The works of Scotland-born photographer Ivar Wigan are. Ivar’s recent work has seen him documenting the street culture of Miami, Atlanta and New Orleans, and their often seedy, rarely glamorous underpinnings. And while the images undoubtedly have a voyeuristic slant, central to them is a sense of admiration and empathy, rather than pity or profiteering.

  3. Ruth_van_beek_rehearsal_it's_nice_that_list

    London is the most Instagrammed city in the world, but this week photography has hit the capital like never before. Over the next four days some 70 galleries have taken up residence under Somerset House’s neoclassical roof, bringing together a mix of vintage and contemporary prints for the largest photography fair ever held in London.

  4. Emily_stein_ponyclub_2its-nice-that-list

    Emily Stein is one of those photographers who manages to distill joy and affection into a single image, taking a snapshot of time and energy that bursts out of the frame. In her newest series, Pony Club, the feverish intensity of these kids’ love of rosettes, silks and above all, sweet hairy little ponies is palpable, with just the same amount of effervescence and fun as her previous projects looking at teenagers in a moshpit or kids blowing bubblegum.

  5. Adrian_samson_heatwave_its_nice_that_list

    People-watching is a pastime of mine – the hellos and the goodbyes after two people have just met are my favourite moments, with clunky air-kisses and unnecessary waving being tell-tale signs of an awkward first meeting. If you’ve never got into staring at people going about their day-to-day business (why not?), Adrian Samson’s series Heatwave is a great place to start.

  6. Leemawdsley-millenniummills-itsnicethat-list

    We’ve featured architectural photographer Lee Mawdsley on the site a few times over the years and have often focussed on his masterful documentation of ultra-modern workplaces, all gleaming surfaces and tangled wires. But among his new updates, one project in particular demonstrates his versatility.

  7. Emilyscaife-cosmiccrisp-itsnicethat-list

    I’m a big fan of creatives who have the wherewithal to follow through on simple – and sometimes ostensibly silly – ideas. Jeff Greenspan is perhaps the high priest of this, but Emily Scaife has a nice line in realising pleasingly simple concepts with enough visual panache to make the results more than one-liners.

  8. Anastasica_tsayder_summer_olympics_its_nice_that_list

    The buzz post-Olympics usually centres on the athletes, their achievements and the tirade of endorsement campaigns that inevitably follow. But what about the structures that house these magnificent quadrennial events? Often the stadiums and swimming pools have been purpose-built, but post-event many remain unused, abandoned or unimaginatively repurposed.

  9. Qiu-yang-t-magazine-itsnicethat-list

    As editorial photography goes they don’t come much sharper or stranger than Qiu Yang, the image-maker who has been executing the strangest of situations with the cleanest of finishes for some years now. It seems this precise combination of bizarre but beautiful is working wonders for Qiu – echoing the carefully constructed still-life compositions of Dutch Renaissance artwork, he has clocked up a client list including Vogue, The Gentlewoman, Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin and several series for KENZO.

  10. I-d-street-sound-itsnicethat-list

    Britain’s history is all the richer thanks to the the subcultures the country has fostered. Holding the placard for this shining reputation is i-D, the publication founded by Terry Jones and his wife Tricia in 1980 which has been celebrating youth’s weirdest and most wonderful for 30 odd years now. So it’s perfectly apt that this week the magazine launches its first ever TV series with Channel 4 looking at British style history, entitled Street Sound and Style.

  11. List-its-nice-that5.bob-_willoughby_hoffman_bancroft_bobwilloughby

    The red carpets are out, the yachts are moored and Sienna Miller and Jake Gyllenhaal are getting cosy with the Cohen Brothers on the judging panel. This year’s Cannes Film Festival opened yesterday kicking off 12 days of cinema and partying. And while there’s undoubtedly still glitz aplenty, the events of the past somehow seem so much more glamorous – perhaps simply because they’re in the past, but perhaps because of the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor and their lovely coats and the way they held a cigarette…

  12. Lukestephenson-pizza-itsnicethat-list

    Sometimes when you ask a creative about the genesis of their project the answer is pretty predictable, and sometimes it really isn’t. Photographer Luke Stephenson sent through his new series Pizza – a series of portraits of pizzas he ordered alongside the men who delivered them – but the initial inspiration actually came from jockeys, or rather paintings of jockeys on a collection of cigarette cards Luke stumbled across on Flickr.

  13. Polly-brown-itsnicethat-list

    Open Little Deaths, the sweet new publication by photographer Polly Brown (the very same who photographed office plants in the world’s biggest companies), and if you’re not at home with French euphemisms you might believe you’re looking at photographs of places where a person experienced their first kiss, say, or ate a really good BLT. You’re not, of course – a “little death,” as translated from the French “petit mort” is an orgasm, and Polly is interested in those of the self-induced variety.