TORU UKAI  Photography

I hold a duo-exhibition with Markus Lehr in Berlin from Sep. 6th to Oct. 19th. See the details in NEWS page.


My name is Toru Ukai (鵜養 透). I’m a Tokyo-based photographer and take pictures in Japan and occasionally somewhere in China or Europe.

What interests me the most is the hidden and invisible structure in our modern society. The structure is working everywhere we live. It’s born out of our own desires, though it can often suppress and depress ourselves. I call the structure “Invisible Machinery”. Sometimes it’s embodied in the customs, the law, the social systems, or even the architecture. Sometimes it appears in our own behavior, gestures, positions and figures. “Invisible Machinery” lies on the outside and even on the inside of us. It’s invisible but the signs are everywhere around/among us. And I think a photo could capture it so well.

A photo is totally different from our pure eyesight which is dynamic and based on the duration of time, that is, our life itself. A photo is static and excludes time and life from the whole reality in front of us. In that sense, photography is the art of death. To photograph is nothing other than to “stop”. Therefore, photography can perceive things that are hidden in our continuously flowing lives ; it is a secret ceremony going back and forth between “visible” and “invisible.”

No matter what I photograph, every one of my pictures is inevitably based on the concept of “Invisible Machinery”. It’s the destiny of my eyes and I can’t escape it.

I’m always ready to join some photographic project all over the world and open to your suggestions.
Thank you for visiting.



Ongoing Projects: “Prewar Days”, “Theater Degree Zero”, “山水 – Interface / Interference” and “For the End of an Era”


From the Archives: “Invisible Machinery” and “Baroque for Life”


In China and Europe: “From the Terminal Station, Guangzhou 1997” and “Untitled SHANGHAI” in China. “Elegies” in Europe.

All images © Toru Ukai, 2019






© 2019 TORU UKAI Photography . All Rights Reserved.