An interview with Narumi Hiramoto

For the last 4 years, Narumi Hiramoto has posted one image on Instagram every day, captioning them only with a date in Japanese. Callum Beaney asked him about his work.


CALLUM BEANEY: How did Daily Works start? The whole series is posted on Instagram, right? Did you envision the project working within that format from the start, or do you think of it just as a useful holding space?

NARUMI HIRAMOTO: I started working on this project for a trivial reason. The summer of 2016 in Japan was the hottest on record, so I refrained from going out. One day, I took a picture of a newspaper to test the performance of my macro lens, and I noticed that the picture became detached and independent from the context of the article. I thought, “That’s great. It’s a reaffirmation of the primitive fun of photography.” I was immediately hooked.

Currently, I’m making it a daily routine to create one piece of art per day using a photo from that day’s newspaper as material.

Although this project was not started on the premise of Instagram publishing, I realized that it would be a suitable place to archive this project, and started posting. Instagram doesn’t have an album feature or sorting, I can only post in chronological order, a convention I find similar to newspapers. Also, Instagram has a screen format limitation. Individual works created in various styles on a daily basis become equivalent on the same format, which is important for this project. And for this project, it is meaningful to cross over the old media (i.e., newspapers), and the emerging media (i.e., Instagram).

カル・ビーニー:Daily Worksシリーズを始めたきっかけは何でしたか。すべてInstagramで公開していますね。最初からそのフォーマットを前提にプロジェクトを構想していたのでしょうか。それとも単に作品の保管場所として考えているのでしょうか?




Given that your compositions are derived from newspapers, are you looking to explore those materials themselves? Is that context important, or as the maker, are you aiming at something quite different?

I think of all the material’s characteristics, what’s in the picture, and the context as equally important. And I’m interested in converting and mixing those properties.

First, I crop the newspaper with a macro lens. I then process those images on the computer and post them on digital media, and sometimes print them. During this process of crossing the threshold of different mediums, there are complex changes that happen to certain characteristics of the material – in other words, the photos from that day’s newspaper. My work, as a result of this, is a mixture of visual features such as web dots from the printing press, paper texture, optical effects, and digital processing. I deliberately and carefully mix them together in one piece. And in the process of going back and forth between the public news press and the individual – that being myself – a transformation of context also occurs. Photographs in newspapers, whether they are news reports or advertisements, have the express purpose of accurately conveying things. I separate those photos from the context of the original article, and then process it to create a new image. It has no role in conveying a specific message.






My generation is experiencing a transition from analog media to digital media. This shift will affect our lives and our subconscious without us even realizing it. I wanted to reflect this situation as a familiar issue in my work.

Compared with your earlier images in the project, your recent work in the series feels more like something a designer might make. Conversely, some images almost look like straight copies of the page. Are you also interested to move beyond photography, in spite of that initial spark caused by your macro lens?

Initially, I thought it wouldn’t make sense to present the newspaper copy itself as a work of art. There have already been works created in a similar way decades ago. I figured if I was going to do this in the present day, I should develop it in a different way.

My generation is experiencing the transition from analog media to digital media. This shift will affect our lives and our subconscious without us even realizing it. I wanted to reflect this situation as a familiar issue in my work. Rather than an ambition to broaden the scope of my photography, I feel that I inevitably arrived at my current style through a process of trial and error. This style may seem like a deviation, but it is just an extension of the first idea.




Often, your work seems to convey a somewhat threatening atmosphere; I’m reminded of Freud’s idea of the Unheimlich, which describes when familiar things are just slightly “off”, bringing about a feeling of discomfort. In a sense they feel like they are emerging from some kind of historical/digital non-space, as though aberrations born from popular media which have lost their original context. Maybe that “lost purpose” contributes to this feeling?

Yes. I have been indirectly influenced by Freud’s ideas through Surrealist artists. I was especially inspired by André Breton’s Soluble Fish, which is the prime example of Surrealist automatism. But I don’t fully believe in improvisation. My production method is a mixture of improvisation, and the arbitrary, or inconsistent, act of manipulation.

I want to create an image that has no landing place for sensation. It is an image that is neither abstract nor figurative, neither sophisticated nor naive. I believe that at the boundary between various things known and unknown, there is a trigger that causes that feeling of things being “off.” I don’t know how people will feel about the finished work. With so many photographs in the world being focused on immediately conveying a purpose, I can imagine why an image that “lost its purpose” may seem eerie.





Parts that appear natural at first glance may actually be subject to complex editing … there may be places that look rough-finish but which have been manipulated delicately in 1px increments.

So where Breton was just letting himself write whatever his mind came up with in the moment, are you making conscious choices to do this or not do this, revising this edit because that edit looks better etcetera? Some images feel like straight scans of the newspapers, barely-edited; others have a quite explicit logic behind them and look heavily-manipulated.

I’m improvising, moving my hands, and at the same time thinking about the effects of that action. As the work progresses, there is a moment when the various conflicting elements come into combination in a tense balance. That is the moment of completion.

In my work, there is a unique relationship between the whole and the details. Parts that appear natural at first glance may actually be subject to complex editing. On the other hand, there may be places that look rough finish but have been manipulated delicately in 1px increments. What I particularly like is the state where something complex and chaotic exists with a flat appearance. To give a concrete example, in “H01647” [Ed. – the image below], the layered structure of the screen, perspective, gravity, and other dynamics exist in a strange balance.



私の作品は、全体と細部の関係が独特です。一見すると違和感がない部分に大胆な編集がされていたり、ラフな仕上げに見える部分に1px単位の繊細な編集がされていることがあります。私がとくに好きなのは、複雑で混沌としていながら平凡な佇まいをしているイメージです。具体例をあげると「H01647」〔編者:下の画像〕 では、画面の階層構造、遠近感、重力などの法則が奇妙なバランスを保っています。

Something interesting about that eeriness is that I am hit by it hardest when I see groups of your images. Alone, they can feel more abstract, but once I see a few of them together, they seem to feedback off one another. There, it almost feels like worldbuilding, as though I’m being given a glimpse into an alternate universe.

Thank you. It is a matter that I am also interested in right now.

In fact, at the time of production, I’m not aware of the interrelationship between each work when I create it. Daily production is dependent on what photos are in the newspaper that day, and I cannot rearrange my images once they are uploaded on Instagram.

This means that the worldview of the work will be constructed outside of my control. This is exciting. I myself am sometimes surprised by the correlation between multiple works. When two or more images are lined up there, an unexpected relationship or story is created. I feel like this is an endorsement that humans can’t escape from our own imagination.





All Rights Reserved: text © Callum Beaney & Narumi Hiramoto; images © Narumi Hiramoto.