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Arts of Asia

The MFAH collections of art from China, India, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia reflect Houston’s diverse communities. Ancient and contemporary works are displayed together to create innovative juxtapositions.


© Hatakeyama Naoya, courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery
Japanese, born 1958
Chromogenic prints, diptych

41 1/4 x 123 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Museum purchase with funds provided
by the S. I. Morris Photography Endowment

Arts of Asia

Using a remote control to trigger a 35mm camera on a tripod, with a shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second, Naoya Hatakeyama captured isolated moments from the blasting of a limestone quarry. Inspired by the stop-motion photographs of Eadweard Muybridge taken in the mid-19th century, Hatakeyama's work is a testament to the increasing capacity of modern photographic technology. Here, the drama of the exploding debris is heightened by the large scale of the work and crisp quality of the image.

Hatakeyama began his Blast series in 1995 as part a larger series documenting limestone operations in Japan. To show the dynamite explosions used to extract limestone from the mines, he enlisted the aid of engineers to place his camera as close as possible to record the explosion without being destroyed by it. The Lime Works series contains images not only of the limestone blasts, but also of the way the stone is transported and processed, and of downtown Tokyo buildings and tunnels constructed of limestone. As a whole, the series uses a case study—limestone—to reflect on human interaction with nature.