Essays on the Idea of America

Growing up in Japan, I developed an irresistible fascination with the United States. It was an inevitable result of the Japanese preoccupation with everything American. In Japan, people believe “culture” was born in the center of the world, traveling across many national boundaries to reach them. This idea of a central location, however, has shifted over time—originally being seated in China, and later in Europe. For Japanese citizens born after WWII, myself included, the US has become the source of all modern culture.

This fascination, bestowed on me as a child, has taken a visual turn in my adult years. I first came to America as an exchange student in high school. Since then, it has become my permanent home. At every opportunity, I take long road trips, documenting my ideas and experiences of America much like the street photographers of the early twentieth century. My pictures are conversations with these past artists who made a visual record of what they saw in order to analyze and understand the country.

My installations of this work demonstrate the America I have experienced firsthand with a network of images and meanings. I offer no simplification of the complex reality of my psychological mindset. All the threads of my thoughts are integrated. I make no separations into categories constructed by my preconceived notions and offer no explanations. Experiences, perceptions, and interpretations of the country as I have seen and known it, blend together. In each installation, every photograph has equal value. These preconceived notions are as real and important as my experiences in this space. As the locations where my work is shown change, my installations shift, as well, in order to reflect my subjective perception of the shifting and transient nature of American culture.

My current project, Essays on the Idea of America, is an ongoing body of work, fueled and expanded upon by my fascination with America. These photographs are a physical representation of my restless desire to move, to see, to understand and to create my America.
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