By Katy Cowan
Did you know that Japan has the highest ratio of vending machines to landmass in the world? 自動販売機 – otherwise known as Jidouhanbaiki – is a Japanese culture where distribution companies encourage people to install vending machines on their own property, to earn money day and night while doing pretty much nothing. Their functions are multiple. Witnessing the shifting realities of life around them: at night they light the innumerable dark little streets of Tokyo; by day, they provide contemporary consumers with conveniences.
Brooklyn-based French photographer Edward Way finds this culture fascinating and decided to capture these curious machines during a visit to Tokyo. He explains: “Seemingly dropped out of nowhere, they are reshaping urban space by filling in the borders between domestic and public experience. They serve as reminders of how people organise the space around them, according to their needs and fears, raising questions on privacy, domesticity and security. They reflect Japanese society’s pride of security, respect and hierarchy whereas they may seem out of context.
“The place of these machines, and what surrounds them let us see how Japanese society consider their relationship to the outside and the inside, but also how they view their future – built out of the existing. It lets us know how intertwined these perspectives are. In a culture marked with contradictions, the Jidouhanbaiki are halfway between traditionalism and the ephemeral, collective consciousness and individualism, humanised service and modern automation, surveillance and fear.”
Edward was born in Bordeaux and raised in Paris. After studying business in France and Mexico, he studied photography in Paris. In 2015, he moved to New York City where he collaborates with artist Betty Beaumont on different projects dealing with environment, culture and languages.
The core of his photographic work is focused on the urban environment. He adds: “I observe the world in which city dwellers live and question the link between humans and cities as a set that is as much built and organised as destructive and chaotic. I also work as an architecture photographer on assignment.”
Via direct submission | All images courtesy of Edward Way