images printed on postcards, 15x10cm, 2006
In this project, photography is charged with the task of time travel between cities. Snapshot photographs are printed on postcards, which are treated as fragments abstracted from the linear continuity of everyday life. Sending postcards to ‘my-other-self’ in different cities represents a strategy for exploring the sense of living in between – between the past, present and future.
Four places have been chosen, each embodying a different aspect of my identity in relation to cities.
London is where the project starts. As an international student who has been living in London for several years, I speak and read English in daily life; I go shopping in a specific supermarket, meet friends in certain coffee shops, and work around the corner from the library. Nevertheless, I still feel foreign sometimes because of cultural differences. I posit myself as an insider-outsider in London.
Taipei is my hometown. I totally understand both verbal and gestural languages. I am accustomed to everything and I consider myself an insider in the city.
Paris is a foreign city for me. I am a complete outsider in Paris.
As for Tokyo, because of my personal and cultural background, I can read the ‘Kanji’ (漢字, Chinese character) in Japanese, and I understand the East-Asian culture. I am the outsider-insider in Tokyo.
This journey begins in London. Every day, I used a digital camera as a kind of visual diary, taking snapshots, selecting a single image and printing it on a 10x15cm postcard, which I would then send to ‘my-future-self’ in Taipei. These were postcards sent by me as an insider-outsider in London and received by me as an insider in Taipei. I did this continuously for one month.
The second location is Taipei. When I went back to Taipei, there were thirty postcards from London waiting for me. I picked up one postcard at random each day, looked at the image, and recalled the specific moment when I took the snapshot. As if playing solitaire, I would then take a snapshot in Taipei which responded to the postcard sent from London, and post it from me as the insider in Taipei to me as the outsider in Paris.
I maintained the same strategy in Paris and Tokyo. The repeated activity of sending postcards to myself in different cities and responding to them allowed my mind to flow freely between the city I was currently inhabiting and the city of my memory and imagination.
Here are some examples of the postcards sent by me as the insider in Taipei to me as the outsider in Paris.
© 2014 YinHua Chu