Zen Foto Gallery is pleased to present “Tokyo Debugger”, an exhibition by Shinya Arimoto from Jan 14 to Feb 20, 2021. This exhibition marks Arimoto’s 3rd solo presentation with Zen Foto Gallery, after his exhibition “Tokyo Circulation” in 2016 and “TIBET” in 2019. While Arimoto has been capturing the human figure as a living creature that coexists with the city for many years, he also travelled frequently to Okutama and Hinohara in west side of Tokyo during 2010 to 2019 to capture the traces of past human activity in the mountains and the bugs and other living creatures that reside in their habitat. We sincerely hope that you will take this opportunity to view the 20 black and white prints that were newly produced by Arimoto in the darkroom for this exhibition.

“Many people have questioned me why I would create a group of work focused on bugs, since I have mainly focused on my work on portraits of human beings for more than 20 years. However, I have previously written in the statement of previous work “Tokyo Circulation” that “the dense sprawl of Tokyo is an ecosystem with magnificent circulation”. That concept originated from the idea that If honeycombs, a meticulously calculated structure created by bees as a living creature are a part of nature, then cities created by the living creature called human beings should also be a part of nature. I once said that my previous work and this work “belong to the different sides of the same coin”, but for example, just as a piece of blank paper has neither a front or a back, the human world and the bug world are also inseparable. I call them “mushi senpai” (“bug senior”) with all my respect as those little ones have been living on this planet since the dawn of time. Also, I named this work “Tokyo Debugger” for two reasons, one with the simple meaning of “searching for bugs in Tokyo” and the other as a metaphor, questioning whether “debugging (removing)” in the history of the earth would happen to the bugs or to the human beings.
Perhaps the human world is insignificant compared to the history of the bug seniors, and to them we may be an ephemeral existence that suddenly appears and quietly disappears in their world.”

——Shinya Arimoto

Artist Profile


Born in Osaka, 1971, Arimoto currently lives and works in Tokyo, Japan. Graduated from Visual Arts Osaka in 1994, Arimoto received the 35th Taiyo Award in 1998 with his work “Portrait of Tibet”. In 2008, he founded the Totem Pole Photo Gallery. Arimoto published “Tokyo Circulation” with Zen Foto Gallery in 2016 and won the 26th Tadahiko Hayashi Award as well as the Photographic Society of Japan’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017. His other publications include “ariphoto selection” (No. 1-10, Totem Pole Photo Gallery) and “TIBET” (Zen Foto Gallery, 2019). Actively presenting his work in and out of Japan, he held a solo show at Le Plac'Art Photo, Paris in 2017 and participated in the group exhibition “Am Rand der Gesellschaft. Barlach – Springer – Arimoto” at Museum Bautzen, Germany in 2019.

Publications & Prints