Preserving Memories in Two Forms of Photography: Art Project “Merging Memories” by Kenichiro Hirai

“Merging Memories” is a VR work created by art planner Kenichiro Hirai.

Capturing cityscapes with photogrammetry is becoming more and more popular. “Merging Memories,” created/started in 2019, is a photogrammetric preservation of a wide area of a certain city, as well as a compilation of memories of people who lived in that city, using photographs.

The VR work succeeds in expressing the various faces of the city through the effective placement of photogrammetry and normal photographs.



Street Scenes Preserved by Photogrammetry and Photography

As soon as you enter the VR space, you are immediately surrounded by a landscape that is typical of photogrammetry—a computer-generated composite of photographs taken from multiple angles. Therefore, the photogrammetry creates a space that combines the preserved texture, light, and shadows of real-life photographs while organizing those photographs into polygons, giving them a CG-like appearance.


Photos Appear in the Landscape of the VR Space

As you walk through the VR space, pictures appear.

These Photos Were Taken by People in the City Who Collaborated in the Photogrammetry.

The photos are transparent and display a CRT, TV-like line effect. Thus, when you move in front of the photo, the color and shape of the photo overlap with the background image, creating the illusion that the whole image is moving. It is as if the voices and movements of the people who lived in the city are preserved in the space, or, perhaps, this  movement is like the physical sensation one has when drunk.

Lost Scenery That Will Never Come Back

The setting of this work is “Nonbei Yokocho (Drinking Alley)” in Tateishi, Katsushika-ku, Tokyo.

Hirai effectively uses VR and photogrammetry technologies to depict the bustling nightlife of the street, the warmth of the people who lived there, and the lives of people who lived on the margins of Japanese history, including those forced to evacuate during World War II and prostitutes for United States soldiers.

In This Work, the Changing Cityscape is Preserved in Two Forms of Photography.

Artist’s Statement:

Photogrammetry technology was used to create this VR. Photogrammetry is a technique to generate 3D data by automatically predicting the shot position and angle from a large number of pictures that have been taken of the same subject. In other words, you can see where photos, which have been used in the 3D-data generation process, were taken. With this “Merging Memories,” I have tried to express a new type of album by arranging the photos of people, who agreed to help with the creation of Nonbei Yokocho VR, with the day and place that the photos were taken.(From NEWVIEW official website)

Some of the photos include the redevelopment of the city as of 2019. A city that is being lost at this very moment is being preserved!

Art Project Compiled in VR

“Merging Memories” makes it seem as if every memory that has been spent in that city, every voice and temperature contained therein, has been preserved. What adds to the intensity of this work is the use of photographs taken by people who actually lived in the space and spent time there, as well as the use of photogrammetry to enhance the space through further photographic reworkings by the people who took those photographs.

In this way, the experience of being caught up in the vision and space of the people who lived in the city is established as a VR work. It can be said that this is a VR work that documents an art project, or an art project created to preserve memories as VR. Either way, it is an expression born from the fact that the life and times of the people in this actual place are locked away.

We hope you will experience “Merging Memories” for yourself.


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Edited by SASAnishiki
Translated by passerby1