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An Ear-Opening Experience

Photography: Misa Asanuma Text: Jun Asami


“Before I knew it, people had started called me the ‘cloud man’.” A pioneer of ambient music, Hiroshi Yoshimura pursued a “soundscape that continues to diffuse, like clouds melting into the sky.” He has also called it “music that is similar to air.” The concept of “clouds” is a motif that crops up time and time again during his compositional process.

Twenty years after his passing, the exhibition “YOSHIMURA Hiroshi: Ambience of Sound, Sound of Ambience” is currently open at The Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura Annex.  The exhibition space contains a comprehensive collection that spans Yoshimura’s career, including his early concrete poetry, sheet music, video footage, his homemade instruments, mobiles, records from performance installations, music recordings for various public buildings, and also the words he left behind. As these works all meet together, it is impossible not to notice the extreme sensitivity of Yoshimura’s synesthesia.

“See with your ears / a mirror of sound / an echoing ambience / the joy of seeing sound, the joy of hearing ambience…” Such wrote Yoshimura in one of his dozens of notebooks that he left behind. His talent is palpable across his body of works—the visualization of fragment of sounds from the city at night in photographs, the pictures made from musical staves by drawing over manuscript paper, the soundscape design he did for stations and parks across Japan. Just like in his notebooks, Yoshimura most likely viewed the world while straddling the threshold of his sight, hearing, and his other senses.

Whereas his “fragments of sound” were captured on 35mm reversal film, the photographs taken by photographer Misa Asanuma of this exhibition act as a contemporary analogue. Asanuma’s photographs exist as a visual medium, yet they portray an exhibition that’s full of sound—despite such differing perspectives, just how many of fragments of sound are captured within? Please visit the exhibition, open your ears, and take it all in with your eyes.

YOSHIMURA Hiroshi: Ambience of Sound, Sound of Ambience
April 29 – September 3, 2023
The Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura Annex (2-8-1, Yukinoshita, Kamakura, Kanagawa)
Hours: 9:30 – 17:00 (Last admission 16:30) *Closed on Mondays

Jun Asami
Editor and Writer. Director of the antique shop ‘Goods’, also belongs to Design studio ‘Well’. He has worked on the production and publication of artbooks alongside other artist.

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