Wandering in some city,
I notice that something calls me.
Looking about around,
gently swaying green grasses on a small vacant site behind the main street,
a silver crane reflecting evening sunlight at the top of an uncompleted hi-rise,
a piece of thin blue sky cut by the surrounding buildings,
Then, I feel that I am attracted by this city.
Makoto Sei Watanabe asks: How can a city win your heart?
The Impossible Project answers:
Human life is complex, and the emotional experiment to win somebody’s heart is so very hard to understand and explain in a rational way (maybe that’s one of the reasons why I adore Polaroids, being much closer to your heart and emotions than a thousand words). The only thing I can tell for sure is that my heart starts beating faster automatically when it’s confronted with something that has that certain ‘magic’ (even though that something is, again, hard to explain).
This is what happened to me—or shall I say to me and my heart—back in 2005, when I developed my very first Polaroid in my trembling hands. That wonderful, white-framed, real and smelly thing immediately seduced me with its magic. I immediately had to admit that analog instant photography had won my heart. No other kind of photography could be closer to real life than this one; with its unpredictable, tangible, sensual, unique and surprising way, it captures the moments of your life. It becomes a part of it.
A city that wins my heart basically reveals these characteristics and enchants me with them in an unpredictable dance wherein we get to know each other.
In order to not get on the wrong side of each other and to enjoy the dance, I need to have time and patience. Just like an instant photo needs its time for the chemical reaction and to slowly develop from a featureless, but beautiful, blue surface into something with a real character, a city has to slowly reveal its underlying spirit to me.
I love to take my time to inhale a city—starting from the smell when you get off the plane, the feeling of the air, the taste defined by special places and restaurants, the way the people look at you…it is an almost endless collection of small aspects, passionately inhaled with all my senses. The more analog, the more surprising, the deeper and truer a city is—the better.
Staying calm and listening; being ready for the unpredictable and surprising outcomes; accepting things as they are without trying to turn them into something that matches our idea. Once the real essence, the underlying soul and character, the certain something can be grasped, a city has won my heart.