To fully comprehend the power behind Cobayashi’s photography, you must first understand the fascinating spiritual perception of technology in Tokyo and Japan. Yaoyorozu no Kami or ‘eight million gods’ is one of the concepts of Shinto, the traditional religion of Japan, it is the belief that nature and everyday objects have spirits residing inside of them. For instance, god of mountain or god of rice, this is why in Japanese culture material things, including technology, are treated with respect. Tsukumogami is the Japanese folklore associated with any object over 100 years old, it becomes alive and sentient because it is ‘possessed’ by a spirit, like the characters in ‘Spirited Away’. In fact, Tsukumogami has been channelled throughout Cobayashi’s work, with traditional photography techniques and technology embodying Japan’s ancient dynamism.
Throughout Cobayashi’s work, he implements this hyper-animated philosophy of technology by editing his photos, you can really feel the image come to life with its fluid manipulation and colour distortion. The photo is not a piece of photography anymore: by uploading it on the web and digitally editing the piece Cobayashi has handed over ownership of the work to ‘the Cloud’ and while the internet is running, it lives through it. Cobayashi’s photography is also a very poignant pointer to Tokyo’s past, referencing animes that embody its inhabitant’s abstracted view of the war and capitalism which created the city’s motif for Western films.