In the snowy landscape soft heights of Fukushima, Florian Ruiz have captured the invisible pain of radiation. Inspired by the drawings and the artwork of Utagawa Hiroshige’s Japanese engravings, he hoped to capture the fleeting moments, the movements of climatic phenomena, and the ever-shifting perceptions of nature, where radiation accumulates themost.
With a geiger counter, he measured the radioactive contamination’s presence in becquerels (Bq), a unit that expresses atom disintegration and its mutation’s number per second. By a process of staggered superimpression, he intended to show the atom’s alteration in his pictures. The transparency effects, the broken perspectives give rise to a shape that is in motion, an impermanent world as in traditional Japanese engravings.
Then, he created a vibration, a departure from the reality of the subject that reveals the presence of radiation in the image. The process reinvents and twists the very landscape, leading to a sort of vertigo or malaise, a threatening danger hidden behind the purity of the white of the landscapes. As the disturbing whiteness of Moby Dick, whiteness object of terror for the Man, the purity of the white contrasts with the presence of the invisible stain of radioactivity.
Florian Ruiz presents his Project 596, a photographic work realized from 2014 to 2019 in which the photographer focuses on the old salt lake Lop Nor, in China, located in Xinjiang province in the north-west of the country. Now almost dried-up, it served as a nuclear weapons testing site from 1964 to 1996. The first Chinese nuclear bomb test in 1964 was named “Project 596”. Nowadays, the region is still very contaminated and China recognized in 2008 the existence of health problems among civilians and military personnel due to radiation exposure. Florian Ruiz reveals the presence of the danger of radioactivity by measuring the radioactive contamination with a geiger counter. He wanted to show, by a digital process, a reality modified by the presence of invisible radioactivity. The process reinvents and twists the landscape, leading to a kind of vertigo or malaise, a threatening danger hidden behind the landscapes. Here too, Florian Ruiz succeeds in sublimating the ugliness of these spaces, creating pale blue landscapes.
Project 596 is a series resolutely representative of atmospheres. The photographer translates a subjective universe of impression: the image is present to translate the emotion, the feeling that a landscape gives us. Florian Ruiz shows us landscapes resulting from a chaotic and unstable world, while underlining the permanence of beauty within them.
A shamanic journey
Shamanism in Japan is still very present in some regions, especially on the island of Hokkaido. This religious thought is based on animism and recognizes the existence of a soul in all living beings, objects, phenomena and natural elements called “kamui”. Shamanism has a dualistic representation of the world. The visible, daily, profane world, and the other worlds: the world of the gods, the spirits, the ancestors… The shamanism does not consider these worlds separated and supposes the possibility of establishing passages with the other world.
In these regions impregnated with animist thoughts, Florian Ruiz wanted to imagine a shamanic landscape, a floating, undecided world. He wanted to reveal a possible world, a landscape where the different spaces of reality and shamanic thought intermingle.
Using a digital process, Florian Ruiz created a landscape where these worlds are superimposed, where forms evaporate and sometimes reach abstraction. From this moving world are born landscapes where real breakthroughs, as we imagine them, can appear.
In this work, he wanted to question the representation of the real and the invisible in landscape photography by invoking what is destined for the imagination and what is destined for the eye.
The title of each photograph corresponds to the geolocation of shamanic space.
GRAND PALAIS ÉPHÉMÈRE
La Contamination blanche
Paris Photo FAIR
08.11.2018 – 11.11.2018
After studying law and history, Florian Ruiz develops a documentary approach to the desperate social world marked by disillusion. He then take a look at the intimacy of the prostitutes’ rooms at Pakistan, photograph the shipbreaking of Bangladesh and tell the story of a Mongolian mining town.
Settled for ten years in Tokyo, marked by the disaster of Fukushima, in his recent works, Florian Ruiz sought to test the bounds of photography by challenging its ability to put in image the invisible danger of the radioactivity. He is using assembly, collage, super impression; processes that reinvent and twist the very landscape.
His work was the object of numerous publications (Le Monde Magazine, Magazine European Photography…) and he was rewarded by several prices: Sony World Photography, QPN Award,Bourse du Talent, Felix Schoeller…)