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Interacting with Otsuka’s autobiographical photos

Photographer Chino Otsuka whose series titled Imagine Finding Me, photo-shops her present-day self into photos from her childhood. I believe some of Smith and Watson’s ways of interacting with life-writing texts can be applied to these photos in a fresh light.

Agency As opposed to letting her parents taking the photo, Otsuka gains agency in how the photo should turn out

Embodiment In her photos, Otsuka is visible in two senses: the nostalgic, authentic past self and the photo-shopped recent self. To her, this is a time traveling tool to be a tourist of her own history.

Coherence In her photos, there were not a consistent number of years jumped back into time, but roughly twenty odd years before. This rendered an interesting collage of a jump back into time.

Identity Although Smith and Watson did not mention the age facet of identity, we can still see multiple identities regarding age here: her past and present and the negotiation of the two. We also see a Peter Pan motif of a more youthful self.

Memory Memory here is based on childhood travels and a nostalgic feeling. It is an attempt to grasp onto times irretrievable. The means of doing so is both via family albums and technology.

Online lives As this project gains attention on the internet, what was once a private project about herself now comes into the sphere of the public. And the persona put on by Otsuka is a binary of the past private her and the present public her.

Relationality The other people in the photos such as the other tourists become a backdrop for her story. In some of her photos, it seems as if the present her is interacting with the past her; whereas in some photos, they are not interacting at all. This again renders an interesting collage. Furthermore, there are no traces of her family in the photos.

Space The project spanned geographically through national borders, as Otsuka being a tourist. We can also take this metaphorically and say she took on the adventure of time traveling to places she encountered in the past.

Temporality If encountering these pictures for the first time, one might take time to realize a resemblance of the two subjects and recurring theme. Once understood, the past and present are ingeniously weaved together to create a faux vintage of Otsuka as a tourist of the past.


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