Monday, January 13, 2014

Me + Me: Chino Otsuka's photos

Chino Otsuka's photo series Imagine Finding Me has been pinging around the Internet. Understandably so; it's remarkable. In the series, Otsuka digitally places images of herself into her old photos, lining up her present self with her former self. “The digital process becomes a tool, almost like a time machine," Otsuka said, "as I’m embarking on the journey to where I once belonged and at the same time becoming a tourist in my own history." The idea of being a sightseer in one's own past is fascinating, but not particularly novel: such touring is what we all do, everyday, is what memory is. What's amazing about Otsuka's photographs is their technical quality, the seamless way she's inserted herself into her past. Long gone are the clunky photoshopped images of yesteryear. Digital manipulation keeps growing in sophistication, and I wonder where it will end, and what that point will look like. Because Otsuka can do what she does so efficiently and successfully, must she? We're aware of image manipulation in nefarious political contexts, marveled at Woody Allen's Zelig, and smile at manipulated imagery as Internet memes. What Otsuka is accomplishing is a new way of yoking the present to the past, the seams erased, the fingerprints unseen. What's to be gained from visually erasing the bridge from the present to the past via 1's and 0's? As always, I wonder what the implications are for memory. I wonder how this will look in a generation, and how by then we will have refined it even further. And to what end.

1977 + 2009, France

1975 + 2005, Spain

1976 + 2005, Japan

1984 + 2005, France

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