Shinshin: Exploring Connections

Untitled.Showa was an interactive online project based on reconnecting vintage Japanese photographs from a deceased estate in Geelong to their subjects in Japan. Though the pathway between the photos origin and how they came to be in Geelong remains a mystery, the project connected all sorts of Australians and Japanese people to each other and to another time and place as they examined the same photos, analyzed commonalities and shared responses to the imagined memories contained within each small window. As a result of this communal effort, many photos were identified and returned to still living photo subjects or their descendants.

The project resonated with me and evoked a vision of the photos themselves reaching out from the container where they’d been sequestered for unknown years, seeking connections in the outside world, finding their way home, or to new homes to be adopted into new hearts. It particularly caught my imagination as it occurred during lockdown when so many people felt quite isolated, cut off from and losing family members, and with the world around them reduced to memories and the visions and stories accessible through the squares of their computer screen.

Though lockdown for me was a crazily busy time, struggling to homeschool my resistant daughter during the day, attending to my work in the evening and then my university studies after that, I felt compelled to try to bring this vision into reality. Venturing into the pandemic be-masked, I reprinted the photos and cut them into strips, and during snatched minutes rolled them into paper strings, or koyori in Japanese. Paper for me is something that I touch every day in books, letters and photos and holds both familiarity and the potential to evoke a distant friend or another world in my heart. Rolling koyori is an intensely tactile process and together with the nature of paper for me embodies the importance of touch in human relationships.

I arranged the photo koyori escaping from a vintage suitcase like a sea creature exploring the world around. I wanted the setting to be recognizably Australian, so I searched for a suitable location in a local nature reserve in Canberra. There, next to a gorge I played in as a child, I found the colours of the wet soil mirrored that of the suitcase, almost as if they were related. Framed this way, the gorge separated the trees on either side like the distance separating people in time and space, and a path behind evoked the route travelled to this point in time while the route onwards remained unseen. To me, the site simultaneously included concepts of separation, home, and strange lands, as for most of the world, the Australian bush appears strange and different. A suitcase seems an element that links many, particularly in Australia, where 30% of the current population were born overseas and many more travel to visit family or for work. I felt it was a suitable home for the photo koyori to explore and find connections with new hearts and minds.








I am a bilingual Australian of British and French heritage, exploring the history and present of the Australia-Japan relationship and languages and identity in Australia. I have degrees in science and education and am greedily working on more in history and visual arts.



ーPosted by Sophie Constable、December 2021

ーソフィー・コンスタブル投函 2021年、12月


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