1983-1986. LANDSCAPES. suburbs of Tokyo
I took pictures of my town with the large format (4x5) and panorama camera. I published "LANDSCAPES" in 1986, for which the award of new talented photographer of Photographic Society of Japan was given in 1987.

"Empty hill"
I personally call a semi-desert like area of land cleared for a housing project on the western outskirts of the Tama New Town the "empty hill". There is absolutely nothing on this "empty hill". It's natural features and history have all been burned as rubbish.

These work are requiems about the identity that disappeared. by Norio KOBAYASHI. A question from Mental Contagion.

Question : Your Japanese Landscapes series was published as a book and won the prestigious New Artist Prize from the Photographic Society of Japanese in 1987. From 1970 to 2000, you managed to capture scenes of the desolate "wasteland" that once was, and as time passed, (30 years) you captured scenes of construction, destruction and, finally, suburban life. Identity and objectivity are the themes throughout the evolution of this project. Can you explain this further? At what point did you realize the importance of this project?

Norio : I made my debut as a photographer with the Japanese Landscapes series. At the time, I wanted to shoot landscapes objectively, using large format camera and color film. My intent was to be objective, rather than artistic. I overlapped myself with the situation of destroyed nature and disappearing identity. "Empty" and "blank" were the themes of this project. I might photograph the same place with a digital camera again someday.

LANDSCAPES, 1983-1986. 東京郊外
東京周縁部の多摩ニュータウンや港北ニュータウンの風景を、4×5大型カメラとブローニーのパノラマカメラ、リバーサル・カラーフィルムを使用して撮り続けたシリーズです。当時は、歯科大学を無謀にも中退し、日吉の東京綜合写真専門学校の研究科で重森弘淹先生に指導を受けていました。造成地のほとんどは立ち入り禁止でしたが、許可も取らずに監視の目を盗んではこっそり、ひっそりと撮影を続けていました。現在の街並みにあの頃の風景を探してみても、当然のことながら同じ光景はどこにもありません。全ては変化し、動いています・・・。

写真集は1986年に佐野寛さんの編集で750部ほどを自費出版しました。出版社名は「アーク・ワン」となっていますが、これは当時、赤坂にあった個人事務所の名前です。決して豪華な写真集ではありませんが、僕にとってはデビュー作とも言える思い出深い一冊です。翌年に、日本写真協会新人賞を戴きました。現在は絶版となっています。