Pittscapes Artist’s Statement

I grew up in the center of Tokyo, Japan. After focusing on portraits for many years, I have also recently become interested in photographing urban scenes that I see during my daily life. I love the traffic noise and air in the city. If I had to choose between living in the city or the country, I would choose the city definitely because I cannot sleep when it is too quiet at night.

Several years ago I moved to the top of Mt. Washington in Pittsburgh overlooking the point where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers flow together to form the Ohio. From the street level, Pittsburgh does not look like a city. It looks like it was formed without order and plans. It is dark and cold, and the downtown streets are often empty. People have told me the photos look “sad.” But from the top of Mt. Washington, I can see nearly the whole city. When I drive down the mountain over the Liberty Bridge to the junction of 5th Avenue and the Boulevard of the Allies, I am often reminded of the streets in Downtown Tokyo… intricate streets with lots of curves around rivers and hills. Like Tokyo, the streets in Pittsburgh are not straight or grid-like. I heard that the city streets in Tokyo were made purposely confusing to prevent invasions of enemies from outside. Pittsburgh’s streets follow the natural contours of the land. The man-made environment reflects its unique geography and the history of the people who came to work in the coalmines and steel mills. I want to capture the scent of the people who exist behind the buildings, streets, bridges, and tunnels.

Kaoru Tohara