Pseudo-Code Making and the Galapagos Syndrome-Like ConfusionYutaka Inagawa Artist Statement 2013
The starting point of my practical work is to sample whole or fragmented images, of which I am certain about their place of origin and their relation to myself, rather than random photos of anyone or any situations found on the internet. The photos need to be evidence and records of real people, objects and events that I have met or encountered in person. Therefore, I am certain that the photos have not been digitally manipulated by anyone else. For example, snapshots of friends, acquaintances and scenes from my private life build up a highly personal archive. Also, a variety of everyday objects, which are out of alignment, overlapped with other everyday objects, heaped together, rusty, dirty, stained and so on, are derived from their everyday usage and those qualities enable me to deal with the “private” with intimacy and certainty.
By means of Photoshop, I start with creating meticulous cut-outs from those snapshots, resizing and combining them to make montages, and then manipulation of colour, tonal information, contrast, etc. are applied onto these. In this process, I attempt to tangle the pedigree of the images in order to give them a new lineage and appearance. I intend these photo montages to reflect the puzzling nature of the inspiration behind the work – the Galapagos syndrome-like confusion of origin and reckless metamorphosis of identity which is notably seen in contemporary Japanese culture. This condition is evolved from the unique situation where overwhelming cultural fragments from overseas have been integrated into Japanese culture since the Meiji era (1868- 1912), and which continues to accelerate with the help of the Internet. In order to merge a wide range of information into a single culture in such a short period of time, it needs to be equalized in depth, fragmented and separated from its own history or origin.
This confusion has been diffused and intertwined with recent cultural development. In some cases, it has had a convoluted journey to acquire a reasonable position in a foreign culture and ended up having twisted characteristics that are analogous to codes or the code-making process. Depictions of fantasy in computer games, Anime, Manga, and pop idol groups in Japan are good examples as well as some linguistic code-like confusion in Katakana, Japanese-English and translations of English titles into Japanese in the Japanese film industry. These gradual developments of twisted fusion of the West and Japan blur the seriousness of concerns of race and identity. It has also led to a trend in which the younger generations play with not only their own physical traits such as eye, skin and hair colour, but also various styles from overseas without understanding possible problems regarding appropriation of culture and identity. Which is to say contemporary Japan is a mutated and uncontrollable montage of diverse culture.
My attempt to render and parody these mutations of identity is named here “Pseudo-code making”. It amplifies and underscores the bizarre and unorthodox way of “being” in Japanese culture. I apply a very particular methodology in order to approach this “pseudo-code making” which involves combining three media: the aforementioned snapshots, photo montages, and paintings.
Recreating the images of the photo montages as oil paintings is the key to archive this conceptual rendering. In recent years, images created by photo manipulations and paintings are interrelated and together they generate distinguishable traits in a notion of the real. For instance, highly developed visual effects technology in the film industry and skillful photo manipulations in commercial advertisements such as air brushing faces and skin are ubiquitous ways of playing with reality. There have been tremendous efforts to make the unreal real with these technological developments. The traces of digital manipulations in the images are amazingly inconspicuous. That is why the digital has managed to acquire plausible reality. And now, these techniques no longer belong to the professionals. Widespread easily-handled, reasonably-priced photo enhancing and editing applications for smart phones enable people to play with reality in photography. To a certain extent, this elevates the degree of faux reality and deceptiveness in photography.
On the other hand, the idea of tangible fiction can be a positive aspect in paintings because accumulation of all visible traces, which are created by the normal clumsiness of one's hands and the irregularity in physical movements, can be used to build up plausibility as a fiction. Manipulation, recreation, or editing can be associated with a sense of integrity in connection with painting, whereas manipulation in photo montages inclines towards forgery.
The main pillar of my concept is developed from this notion of deceptiveness and integrity in photo manipulations and paintings. Clear roles are given to each stage of creation. Snapshots are used as epitome of the real, photo manipulations are embodiment of forgery, and paintings are plausible fiction. To put it differently, the real world gains deceptiveness as forgery, subsequently, this photographic deceptiveness merges with the trustworthy fiction of paintings. Therefore, the final production has unique paradoxical juxtapositions within its developments and existence. This gradual shift in the sense of reality and perception manifest as enigmatic complexity in the final work. And it finally becomes a rendition of the tortuous and complex ideas of the Galapagos-syndrome like confusion. It is a clear depiction of the real world although it contains ideas of a parallel world.