I moved to Nagasaki Japan in January 2013, and as I type this at the end of 2018, my chapter here will likely soon be coming to an end. If all goes according to plan with immigration, my wife Miwa and I will be living in my home state of Michigan soon. All these years in this lovely Kyushu city have fundamentally changed me. No matter where I go, I feel that the experiences I’ve had here have made me look at the world differently and helped me to better shed some of my own cultural baggage and biases. Living abroad has helped me to feel stateless, in a good way. The distance I’ve had from my home country has made me feel more distant from it in some ways, and other experiences have brought my heart closer. My time in Japan has etched a part of that culture into my heart, while some experiences have reminded me how foreign I am in this archipelago. If it makes any sense, it’s brought me closer to myself as an internationally-minded person.
My previous illustrated-photography piece, Tatemae, dealt with the “masks” that we all wear when interfacing with the world. This deals with some of what’s behind my mask, and one of the things that will forever be a part of me is Nagasaki.
I made this work to be an album cover for a hopefully-upcoming album of my music. I’m way out of practice with making music, and despite my rabid desire to get back into it, and my wealth of ideas, I am always too busy with work to really get down to it. I finished this art seven months ago, and rather than let this artwork wither away without anyone seeing it, I’m posting it now, in hopes that I will get that album done later when there’s time.
While it may look like a simple wireframe, the image of my inner-self is that of an illuminated paper lantern, modeled after the giant, beautiful lanterns on display every February in Nagasaki’s Lantern Festival. The eyes, contain pentacles, which may look vaguely occult to some folks, but it’s actually the logo from the flag of Nagasaki, and can be found on official documents, and almost every manhole in the city!
Click the image above, or here, to see the gallery page for this, with details of the artwork.
Bonus! For the first time in several years, I made a “making-of” page for one of my works. If you want to read an in-depth guide to the (admittedly fraught) process of making “Lantern”, and find out more about the cultural meaning behind it, please click here or the banner below!