Ryuji Miyamoto was born in Tokyo in 1947. After graduating from the Graphic Design Department of Tama Art University, he worked as an editor for the magazine Toshi Jutaku (Urban Residence) until 1975, and first came to be known to the public in 1986 for his photographs of demolished buildings entitled the “Architectural Apocalypse” series.
Miyamoto entered the inner depths of contemporary urban space and portrayed its fascinating chaos through photographs of demolition sites of movie theaters, department stores and prisons in Tokyo, Berlin and Brussels. This photographic manifesto was published in 1988. Not long afterward, he presented Angkor (1991), a photographic treatment of the ruins of Angkor in Cambodia and Cardboard Houses (1994), an exploration of the dwellings of the homeless, who Miyamoto refers to as “contemporary hunters and gatherers.” The Cardboard Houses served as an incentive that led Miyamoto to produce the Pinhole Houses (1999-2004). Miyamoto expressed destruction in its ultimate form in KOBE 1995 After the Earthquake, a shocking group of photographs that directly capture the “death of a city.” These images were presented in the 6th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 1996.
His 1988 work, Kowloon Walled City is an observation of the decline and fall of this famous block of slum apartments in Hong Kong. For innumerable people who suffered setback in the tumultuous history of modern East Asia, the city had functioned as a communal refuge on the farthest margins. Miyamoto captures a massive crystallization of the communal unconscious of the Chinese; a miraculous, and uncommonly transcendent phenomenon of human ingenuity.
Miyamoto is the recipient of the 55th Award of the Ministry of Education in the Art Encouragement Prizes (for his solo exhibition at Setagaya Art Museum, 2005); Golden Lion Prize of the 6th International Architecture Exhibition Venice Biennale (for the exhibition “KOBE 1995 After the Earthquake,” 1996); the 14th Kimura Ihei Memorial Photography Award (his photo-books Architectural Apocalypseand Kowloon Walled City, as well as his exhibition “Kowloon Walled City,” 1989). His works are included in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Fransico); Deutschen Centrum für Photographie (Berlin); the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (Tokyo).
"All I can do is train my eyes and keep watching the world as it goes on changing, scene after scene, again and again."
- Ryuji Miyamoto