Naoya Hatakeyama is one of the most important Japanese photographic artists of the present day. His work focuses on the interplay between nature and civilisation. From the mid-1980s onwards, Hatakeyama has been creating major photo series showing locations and landscapes that have been shaped by industrialisation and urbanisation. These places developed in an unstructured way; they are nature, created from stone. Limestone quarries and quarry blasts, factory buildings, views of cities, or the underground tunnels of Tokyo's sewerage system—Hatakeyama’s photographs document a natural world, created by humans, but where humans are no longer present. For Hatakeyama, nature does not come to an end. He shows the permanent metamorphosis of its form. Nature is a totality to which all changes in the world are subject. The transformation of nature begins when millennia-old rock is blasted apart and continues when this rock is processed, leading finally to its use as a building material. Thus, Hatekeyama regards quarries and cities as the negative and positive of the same subject.
Light plays a very important role in his compositions. Hatakeyama takes photographs almost exclusively in the early morning or evening. The natural light places his motives in an unreal, alienating atmosphere. Piles of limestone seem like temples, lit up like a stage; sewerage channels remind us of natural canyons. But even when Hatakeyama uses artificial light, he succeeds in lending his motives a unique atmosphere.