by Shoji Ueda

Like the Swinging Rhythm of Bolero

The objects are not unusual. It’s not that we don’t know what they are or what they are used for. They are objects that we are used to seeing and quite familiar with. However, once those objects are placed in a photo taken by Shoji Ueda, what happens? We quickly forget their names and they become artistic objects.  

Objet d’art is an expression that has become part of everyday language for quite some time and what it means is that common objects are removed from daily life and become something else.

In Illusion multiple exposure is an often employed technique with a number of objects always shown in a scene. When viewing the picture, the links between the objects in the scene, as well as the links between the objects and the background stimulates our imagination.
At that moment, you can see the objects’ symbolism and maybe start thinking about the meaning. At that moment, you should think, “Wait” and put a stop to that effort.

The symbolic meaning of objects (for example, neckties are associated with men, work and formal dress), reminds us of the name of the object which we had so fortunately forgotten. We are pulled back to the real world from Shoji Ueda’s visual world and artistic objects become common objects again. We are no longer able to enjoy the beauty of the photograph. It is like judging food only by its ingredients.

What should we do? Forget the meaning of the objects and immerse ourselves in the image. That is all. One might think that this is the same as simply “look at the image without thinking,” but it is slightly different. What is necessary in Illusion is to forget the names of the objects within the photographs by engulfing yourself in the beauty of the work and letting your imagination go wild. This kind of selfish, childlike approach to expanding the horizons of your imagination is the best way to appreciate the beauty of Shoji Ueda’s works, in my opinion.

What I am trying to say is, at the root of all of Shoji Ueda’s photographs, is a quiet battle with the “meanings” we stick on everyday objects. This is his humorous but pointed response to modern civilization’s need to interpret these objects according to their labels.

Kenji Takazawa

Shoji Ueda was a photographer based in Yonago Tottori, Japan.
To purchase photobook of Shoji Ueda's “Illusion” English Version at