Yoshio Itagaki «Tourists on the Moon» 1997-2004.


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Yoshio Itagaki, works with the idea of the tourist snap-shot and the need of travellers to document their presence.

Using digital photography and computer montage, Yoshio Itagaki has created imaginary tableaux of real people taking snapshots and posing for the camera in the most distant and exotic setting that humans have traveled to so far: the moon. Tourists, members of a Japanese wedding party, and honeymoon couples in these digitally stage-managed moonscapes stand on a surf-washed lunar beach, an expanse of sand dunes, or even a Buddhist rock garden, while the earth looms over the horizon. The wedding party has found the ultimate grand backdrop for their official wedding portraits. The tourists are taking pictures of one another for their photo albums and to impress friends and relatives back home; in two large triptychs, Itagaki has collaged together unrelated clusters of tourists to look like a tour group that has just hopped off the moon shuttle for a quick photo-op.

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In a related triptych, tourists pose for photos in a space that looks like a Star Trek 'holodeck,' with Buddha heads floating behind them; and in a new series, Itagaki has created digital photo-collages of tourists taking photos of action figures in computer games, as if they have passed through the video screen. They are tourists in cyberspace-a new destination for people to visit, once they've become bored by all the sights that 'reality' has to offer. Itagaki-a photographer-tourist exploring territory that spans the present and the future, the real and the imaginary-takes an ironic stance, both amused by and critical of the insatiable human appetite for sensation and novelty.

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The moonscape features memorials of human civilization or commerce, and brand-name logos are visible on a tourist's T-shirt or shopping bag. Photographer Wright Morris foresaw this possibility in 1978, less than a decade after the first manned«moon landing: "We see ... the moon, we see planet earth rising on its horizon. Will this image expand the consciousness of man or take its place among the ornaments seen on T-shirts or the luncheon menus collected by tourists?»

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«Tourists on the Moon (1997-2004) and Traveling Games (1999-2002) reflect an anti-heroic version of space travel and deals with an ordinary human practice in extraordinary places. Using computer montage, I have created an imaginary tableaux of tourists on the moon and inside video games, taking snapshots and posing for the camera. I am intrigued by this activity that so many people from different countries and backgrounds all engage in. Tourists on the Moon and Traveling Games both examine the compulsions of a document oriented society. Tourists in particular feel a need to 'prove' their experience by documenting themselves within the spectacular or famous scene. Taking an ironic position, I am both amused by and critical of the insatiable human appetite for sensation and novelty. ~ Yoshio Itagaki.

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source: yoshioitagaki.com, artincontext.org