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Paralleling Memories

Instant photographs, 5.5 x 8.5 cm, 336 images, 2009



Rules of the Game:


  • Observe how the psychical images interact with the physical environment through photographic activity.


  • Use nine sets of ready-made miniature figurines as characters.


  • Everyday, at four-hourly intervals (10:00, 14:00, 18:00 and 22:00), pick up and photograph one figurine based on what one is doing at that time.


  • The project shall start from my artist residency at Tokyo Wondersite, continue for twelve weeks while travelling from city to city:

       Tokyo- Taipei- Paris- Singapore- London.



One morning I received an unexpected email: I had been invited by the Taipei Artist Village to visit Tokyo Wonder Site as a visiting Artist. Everything was happening very quickly and I decided to grasp the opportunity straight away. I quickly packed a case, flew from London back to Taipei, collected my plane ticket for the trip and headed immediately to Tokyo. Since I was not a complete stranger to the city, I was confident of meeting all the challenges it might throw at me.

I had a proposed project that I was planning to execute. I intended to take a vast panoramic image of the cityscape, which I would use as source material for a collage investigating the relationship between public and imaginary space. In order to gather the enormous number of photographs required for this panoramic cityscape, I set the tripod onto a trolley, leveled the camera horizontally, and pulled the trolley down the street, clicking the shutter every five steps. After that, I imported all the images into a computer and used Adobe Photoshop to stitch them together into an extended panorama. During the process, I found I was looking at the city from different perspectives: from street level while walking and photographing the façades of the buildings and from a bird’s eye view when previewing all the images on the screen of the laptop. At the same time, I also registered a particular emotional reaction during the mechanical process pulling the trolley and clicking the shutter: I had to restrain myself from removing the camera from the trolley in order to photograph the scenes I was encountering. The more I walked, the more I realised that the city is not as described in the guidebooks or on maps. There is something more. The city talks to me in different ways, and I simply cannot find a universal language to interpret it. The streets, the buildings, the traffic, the crowds and their movements…all these elements are superimposed onto one another as synthetic layers, creating the image of the city.

I noticed I was neither a traveller nor an inhabitant here. The status of ‘living in Tokyo as an artist’ has enabled me to look at the physical environment in different ways. I had a task to accomplish, a task of looking at the city as an artist. I was expected to produce a piece of work, required to participate in various activities, and asked to follow the regulations of the host institution. Yet I was also eager to know the feeling of truly dwelling in the city of Tokyo. The whole situation might be considered an experiment: to draw myself out of habitual daily life, putting myself into a capsule named Tokyo, and seeing how it all might turn out in the end.

I therefore started the project Paralleling Memories, to observe how my psychical images might interact with the physical environment through photographic activity. I used nine sets of miniature figurines as characters, including police officers, pedestrians, swimmers, cyclists, painters, photographers, sitters, gardeners and football players. Every day, at four-hourly intervals (10:00, 14:00, 18:00 and 22:00), I picked up and photographed one figurine based on what I was doing at that time. The project continued for twelve weeks while travelling from city to city: Tokyo – Taipei – Paris – Singapore – London.



week 01: Tokyo

week 02: Tokyo

week 03: Tokyo

week 04: Tokyo

week 05: Tokyo

week 06: Tokyo

week 07: Tokyo + Taipei

week 08: Taipei + Paris

week 09: Paris

week 10: Paris + Singapore

week 11:  Singapore + London

week 12:  London

© 2014 YinHua Chu

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