Activity Code Unknown (1)



Satoshi Fujiwara is interested in the form of individual representation, using vinyl or traditional printing to create a kind of interactive installation at different exhibition sites. Materials are installed as a function of each space, creating a new concept at the time of installation. It could also be called installation-sculptures or architecture.
Satoshi Fujiwara aims to be critical and activist, portraying subjects with traits considered disgraceful, or using his lens for the purposes of photojournalism, thus documenting in an artistic manner the human product of our society.


Code Unknown (1)

Photography, 2014-2015

In his work Code Unknown (2014-15), Satoshi Fujiwara questions the notion of portrait rights in contemporary society by photographing people in the Berlin subway without permission. Through his way of shooting and editing those human faces, he is able to limit and convert people’s codes as to how one is normally recognized. Thus the subjects’ identities in his portraits become obscured and abstract forms. It becomes an impossible task to identify the actual person behind the installation and therefore invokes the question: is this a real person or a construction?

When a portrait is taken with a camera that provides much higher definition than the human eye, you might not even realize that the person in the picture is you. And when a portion of the data that makes up an image is digitally processed, we might not be able to say that it depicts a given person anymore.

The right of likeness is something that has long troubled everyone with a camera. And today, with the rise of social networks, we have become even more acutely aware of photographs and those who appear in them when they are posted on digital media. Needless to say, in contemporary society it is not acceptable to rashly and publicly display pictures of people’s faces that were taken without their permission, so Satoshi shoots and edits his pictures in a way that makes it impossible to identify the individual people who served as his “models.” To avoid impinging on the right of likeness, he uses shadows that were created by direct sunlight pouring in through the window, various compositional approaches, and digital processing. When we look at another person, either directly or through another medium, we interpret a wide range of information based on outward appearance (face, physique, clothes and accessories, and movements) – in other words, using various codes. By regulating and altering these codes in various ways, he sets out to obscure the individuality and specificity of the subjects in this series of images.

Satoshi took these pictures over a period of several months while riding various subway lines in Berlin from morning to night. The city is home to people from a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds. On the train, the air is not only filled with German, English and other European languages, but also many languages from the Middle East and Asia. To someone like the artist, who was born and raised in a racially homogenous country like Japan, it seems as if these codes, unleashed from every direction and unmixed, form a diffuse reflection.

Curator : Maude Arsenault


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