NPR logo The Mysterious Light Of Tokihiro Sato

Daily Picture Show

The Mysterious Light Of Tokihiro Sato

It sounds like a suspense novel. That, or a vaguely religious reference. But mysterious light is actually the theme of a new photography exhibition at the Frist Center in Nashville, Tenn. In the description of the show, titled "Presence or Absence: The Photographs of Tokihiro Sato," the artist is described as "one of Japan's most acclaimed and best-known contemporary artists"; his work has been widely exhibited around the world, although this is possibly his first time in Tennessee.

Trained a sculptor, Sato is doing some beautiful things with light — sometimes involving exposures of three hours or longer. He opens the shutter of his large-format camera to expose, in many cases, a minimalist landscape, and then uses a flashlight — or a mirror to reflect the sun in daylight — to create light trails. (Because a camera doesn't record movement during a long exposure, only the landscape and light trails are visible in the final image.)

But this is only one incarnation of Sato's art, which varies greatly from sculpture to installation. Take a moment to check out more of his photographic work; there's something magical about it. And if you're in Nashville, well, lucky you! The exhibition opens today.