We were really fortunate to catch up with the talented Tokyo-based artist Repeat Pattern, and ask him some questions whilst he was in Australia for the launch of the unique photo series No.Sleep done in Conjunction with Ta-Ku and Capusle Store.
Why the name repeat pattern?
At face value I like certain graphical repeat patterns and I was searching for a new name to make beats under. Beats are a kind of repeat pattern too so it worked on a simple and direct kind of level. But there was more to it then just that as I sat on it longer. You could say our lives are repeat patterns as well, the cycles of days,months, years, our behaviors -our triumphs and failures. Perhaps the cycles of the entire human race are some lopsided repeat pattern of sorts almost repeating but not quite exactly -some fractal shit.
What are your disciplines?
I suppose photography and music? Although maybe it's a specific area of music and a specific area of photography (not sure what they're called). Photography is maybe more like graphic design with a camera for me?
What do you look for when you shoot?
Something to peak my interest, something that challenges me, grabs me. I can be vague in other ways too by saying, combinations of interesting light, emotion, contrast of content, uniformity of content and blah blah blah but it might be faster to look at some of my photos? Despite how it probably reads I'm not trying to be clever or a smart-ass either, I just don't know how to describe it accurately.
Do you want more process?
No I think it's cool to see where your mentality rests.
Are you in a certain mindset when you shoot?
Absolutely, that's why I like photography! It's the being there for the moment part that I really love -that head space I settle into when I'm trying to be connected to the present and see it as clearly as I can. Being able to get into that space is crucial for me to feel good about work I'm doing. It's a meditation while at the same time a high of sorts. Life seems to be spent in the past or anticipation of future. Rarely are we here right now facing the moment we're in. While being in the moment isn't required to take an intriguing or powerful image it's that aspect of being present at the moment when that shutter opens that I love. When I'm in that place and on a digital camera I'm not looking at the photo that was just captured, I'm taking steps with my subject hypnotizing and being hypnotized.
Your portraiture is really unique, how do you get that, is there as approach because it's abstract and quite introspective?
It usually starts out with some basic idea which often doesn't yield great results. It evolves from some staged "trying," moments to a relaxed something "real" that I discover during the moments in-between what I was originally trying to do. Then I just work found random "real" stuff until I feel like it's passed.
What brought you to Australia?
I guess it's to promote this book series called NO.SLEEP I'm doing with Reggie (Ta-ku) and to collect new material for new books in the series. That's what brought me here but it's turned out to be much more than that. While the exhibition we had at China Heights was cool and the little Cake and Wines interview talk thing was super good vibes (I'm tipping hats here with the name drops) the true value of the trip for me has been the opportunity to meet the folks at Capsule who backed the book and you guys at Voena. Just that bit of networking has been huge and I hope future collabs develop from these chance meetings.
Would you say you guys are on the same wavelength?
Yes and no. We both have our own perspective creatively but also influence each other a lot. I'd say we are in synch in the areas where it counts most and that is basic aesthetics and as individuals acting and wading through this life.
We've been asked a lot lately what advice we'd give to young photographers on what to do to figure out how to get their work to a stage where they are happy with it. Any parting wisdom on this?
I guess a person has to be clear on what they want before they can start assessing what is necessary to be happy with it? I can't really advice because the field is potentially too wide to give an answer that works for a majority of cases. But I guess just start asking questions and then answering them? I think people have ideas of what they think is going to make them happy but the reality is often something very different (or at least that's been my experience). I don't think we usually stop to ask ourselves. We treat our trajectories or goals for happiness and contentment like superficial shopping trips -we see other people that seem to be happy or have it together and then just go for what they've got without thinking it through -maybe?
But all that aside, I recommend that beginners and non beginners really survey what photography is and was -this especially includes the origins of where we are today (if they haven't already). It sounds basic enough but I'm sure that many haven't really taken the time to do so. There are so many different facets and nooks to it, some of which don't even really seem to fit under the banner of photography! There are fists full of books, videos and websites -you won't have trouble losing yourself in too much on the subject. After you've explored what photography is and have a general idea of the technical aspects I suggest pushing it all away and shooting and shooting. Refining what you love from your own work until you start to really get the same feeling from your own work as you did from your favorite works by others. That's not to say copy the other works -I'm talking about the emotional side you get from looking at it.