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COLLAGE -- ON THE ROAD WITH HIROSHIGE, FROM EDO TO THE AMERICAN WEST

 

 

In 1833 the Japanese artist Hiroshige accompanied a shogun's retinue on a trip along the length of the Tokaido, the great eastern road that stretched from Edo (Tokyo) to Kyoto. Hiroshige sketched what he saw along the way each day and later published a series of 55 color woodblock prints based upon the daily sketches. At that time Japan was largely closed to external influences but inside the borders life was flourishing. Life seen along the Tokaido was largely reflective of the life of the whole country. Hiroshige captured images of merchants, tourists, pilgrims, shoguns, farmers, dramatic natural landscape, and dense urban life. In 1993, Matthew Chase-Daniel began work on On the Road with Hiroshige: Merchants, Pilgrims and Tourists from Edo to the American West. Chase-Daniel takes reproductions of the original Hiroshige series and cuts and collages these together with his own photographs which he manipulates in size and coloration on a color photocopier. The process of photocopying the photographs tends to flatten and modulate the color which renders the images similar in tone to the woodblock prints. The resulting collages are thus often seamless; what at first glance could be taken for an old woodblock print is in fact largely composed of modern elements Thematically, the series follows Hiroshige's focus on the road and what is seen along it. The road has changed dramatically since the last century, but it still is, in our society, a mirror of the greater whole. We still witness merchants, tourists, and pilgrims, but the faces of these are different, and the feelings and issues that they give rise to in us are different as well. Chase-Daniel invites us to reflect upon the way contemporary tourism and mass marketing have influenced our relationship to place and our notions of the sacred. Once completed, each collage is set into a custom-built frame which contains a collection of small objects which relate directly to the subject of the collage. Often these objects are found on the site where the photographs are taken. The objects range from the natural to the hand-crafted to the mass-produced and include: sand, rocks, dried fish, seaweed, pot shards, matchbooks, car tires, and candy.

© 2020 Matthew Chase-Daniel

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