Sandokai is a poem by the Chinese Zen master Sekito Kisen (700–790 CE), chanted daily in temples around Japan and the world. Extravagantly polysemous, this key Zen text expresses, among other things, the merging of the relative and the absolute, of difference and unity, of reality and perspective.
Josema Zamorano’s work in the streets of Japan evokes one of Sandokai’s lines: “Grasping at things is surely delusion.” Aiming to subvert a ubiquitous premise of the photographic image that’s been held throughout the history of photography and into the age of social media—that is, that a photograph fixes appearances—Zamorano unfixes reality to release the perspectives contained therein. He achieves this by performing multiple exposures of alternate gazes and creating a single cubist photograph.
Zamorano’s work also calls forth a fundamental premise of Japan’s Shinto religion. According to this tradition, the Utsushiyo (visible or material world) and Reikai (invisible world of spirits) are part of one another. Events in both realms have a consequence on reality as a whole. As the wavering appearances of these images suggest, Josema’s work is an investigation of the reunion of the visible, the invisible, and imagined worlds.