Notes from Japan: Play and Collaboration


A while back we came across ‘Georgia Georgia’ – an ingenious project by Kyler Zeleny and Yanina Shevchenko. The concept was simple – Yanina would send Kyler images of Georgia (the country at the junction of Eastern Europe and Western Asia) and he would use each to inform an image of his own in Georgia (the American state), searching for similar subjects and poetic connections.

The resulting diptychs are playful and absorbing – capturing the differences between the two Georgias, as well as the surprising similarities and linkages. Brilliantly, they present a fresh perspective on each place – and in fact a unified, fictional place – rather than emphasizing known stereotypes of Eastern Europe and the Southern United States.

Kyler got in touch recently with an extension of this project, ‘Notes from Japan’. On a recent trip to Japan with Yanina, they played a similar game. Each day, one would share an image, and the other would have the following day to search their new surrounding and  find the ‘connecting’ shot.

The resulting images are wonderful, but equally we love the collaborative approach through which they’ve been created. It challenges each photographer to bounce off the other, exploring their environment in a kind of artistic scavenger hunt, and pushing their photographic practice in new and unexpected directions. For what is normally a solitary pursuit, this kind of visual dialogue is playful and unexpected.

We present these beautiful ‘Notes from Japan’, with their aesthetic and sensory connections, and encourage you to try similar collaborative challenges.