Naoya Hatakeyama, Blast #5416, 1998
Naoya Hatakeyama, LH12801, from the series Lime Hills, 1986
Hatakeyama discusses the genesis of the Blast series:
While making Lime Hills, I had many opportunities to observe blast sites. I was shocked. Two-thousand-ton rocks are hurled out of a mountain just like that. It’s a “spectacular” sight, and it’s dangerous. It also has aggressive connotations, right? It’s totally different from tranquil scenery such as green forests inhabited by little animals and singing birds. When I began to explore ways to photograph a detonation, I initially thought I would use a telescopic lens, but discarded that idea after seeing a video in a construction site office that had been shot from a distance with that kind of lens–something was off about the image. Then I experimented with a 4 x 5 camera operated by remote control. When this didn’t work, I developed the system that I use now–a motor-driven camera with an autofocus lens attached. I use a radio control system that allows me to take pictures from about 200 meters away. I set up in a safe location, wait for a radio signal from the blasting engineer, and flip the switch. I measure the distance by the rocks that shoot out from the last moment the camera starts to work. Lately, they’ve been getting pretty close. . . like two meters away.
Naoya Hatakeyama interview with Noriko Fuku in Heavy Light: Recent Photography and Video from Japan, edited by Christopher Phillips and Noriko Fuku (Goettingen: Steidl and New York: ICP, 2008), p. 38.