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Michael Wolf's 'Tokyo Compression' Features Zen Commuters (PHOTOS)

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 05/10/2012 11:57 am Updated: 05/12/2012 8:40 am

Michael Wolfe

The riders of Tokyo's famously crowded subways are the subject of a photographic series by Hong Kong-based photographer Michael Wolf.

Appropriately named "Tokyo Compression," the project was on display at the Forum for Photography in Cologne, Germany and at Stockholm, Sweden's Gun Gallery in 2011.

Wolf, a German-born artist who moved to Hong Kong in 1994, first experienced the densely packed transit system of the Japanese capital while covering the aftermath of the deadly sarin nerve gas attack in Tokyo in 1995, according to Landscape Stories.

In January of this year, Makoto Hirata, a member of the doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo turned himself into police after 17 years on the run. The cult's terrorist gas attacks in the Tokyo subway killed 16 people and injured 6,000 in 1995.

But what started as a series of quick snapshots grew into a portfolio's worth of images in 2008.

"I shot six frames of faces of early morning commuters in subway windows which turned out to be very powerful images," Wolf told Landscape Stories. "I spent 20 days [Monday to Friday] every morning from 7:30 till 8:45 at the same subway station shooting portraits of people on their way to work."

The riders in Wolf's project appear incredibly calm under the horribly cramped conditions.

That calmness comes despite the fact that, during the morning rush on Tokyo's commuter rail, "cars designed to hold 160 passengers... [commonly] carry twice that number," according to an article published by the online newspaper Japan Today.

LOOK: Selections From Michael Wolf's 'Tokyo Compression'

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  • Michael Wolfe's Zen Tokyo Compression

    Tokyo Compression, #18 Chromogenic Colour Print, 2009 <em>To see more great pictures of Michael Wolfe's subway portraits visit <a href="http://www.flowersgallery.com/artists/118-artists/4257-michael-wolf/#/section-work/" target="_hplink">Flowers Gallery</a>. </em>

  • Michael Wolfe's Zen Tokyo Compression

    Tokyo Compression, #51 Chromogenic Colour Print, 2009 <em>To see more great pictures of Michael Wolfe's subway portraits visit <a href="http://www.flowersgallery.com/artists/118-artists/4257-michael-wolf/#/section-work/" target="_hplink">Flowers Gallery</a>. </em>

  • Michael Wolfe's Zen Tokyo Compression

    Tokyo Compression, #106 Chromogenic Colour Print, 2009 <em>To see more great pictures of Michael Wolfe's subway portraits visit <a href="http://www.flowersgallery.com/artists/118-artists/4257-michael-wolf/#/section-work/" target="_hplink">Flowers Gallery</a>. </em>

  • Michael Wolfe's Zen Tokyo Compression

    Tokyo Compression, #17 Chromogenic Colour Print, 2009 <em>To see more great pictures of Michael Wolfe's subway portraits visit <a href="http://www.flowersgallery.com/artists/118-artists/4257-michael-wolf/#/section-work/" target="_hplink">Flowers Gallery</a>. </em>

  • Michael Wolfe's Zen Tokyo Compression

    Tokyo Compression, #13 Chromogenic Colour Print, 2009 <em>To see more great pictures of Michael Wolfe's subway portraits visit <a href="http://www.flowersgallery.com/artists/118-artists/4257-michael-wolf/#/section-work/" target="_hplink">Flowers Gallery</a>. </em>

  • Michael Wolfe's Zen Tokyo Compression

    Tokyo Compression, #25 Chromogenic Colour Print, 2009 <em>To see more great pictures of Michael Wolfe's subway portraits visit <a href="http://www.flowersgallery.com/artists/118-artists/4257-michael-wolf/#/section-work/" target="_hplink">Flowers Gallery</a>. </em>

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