"Chamber of Curiosities:
Manneristic Natural History photographed by Yoshihiko Ueda"
The University Museum of The University of Tokyo has designated the vast amount of specimens stored at the university campus as "The Collection of The University of Tokyo", and has been organizing a series of special exhibitions on average twice a year in order to introduce and thereby return these specimens to the society. At this point when the special exhibition has numbered 21 in total, we decided to reflect upon the exhibition project of "The Collection of The University of Tokyo" itself and take a fresh step toward our future.
Since the museum has only exhibited academic specimens (=objects), this is our first attempt to organize an exhibition of photographies. Mr. Yoshihiko Ueda, one of the best talents in the field of contemporary advertising photography, kindly agreed to photograph the academic specimens. To explain in writing the significance of archaic academic specimens, sea of words would be necessary. Through his exquisite photographs, Mr. Ueda captures such things as the value and charm of age-old materials, the mystery and marvel of natural forms, and the preciousness and transience of life. They are straightforward, clear, witty, and even humorous at times.
Photography has been utilized as an important tool for keeping records in academic research, and a huge amount of photographies are stored here at The University. Whatever a subject might be, be it human figures or animals or nature, photographic records have a characteristic of presenting a mechanic view that eliminates any subjectivity of the photographer. Mr. Ueda's camera catches the objects through a filter of his unique individuality. Therefore, the vision caught by his camera is filled with special depth and softness, emphasizing the aesthetics of the photographer. As the fruit of the cooperation of "Photo-Art & Science", this record of natural history that squarely captures the academic specimens, steeped in history, of The University of Tokyo deserve to be called something truly unique in the world.
Finally, our words of gratitude go to Mr. Yoshihiko Ueda and his staff who kindly spared their precious time to take the photographs, as well as to designer-philosopher Mr. Kenya Hara who supported the project from the very beginning, and to all the people who have extended their cooperation to realize this exhibition.
Yoshiaki Nishino (Professor, Museum technology / History of arts)