This manuscript engages with two central ideas: the first concerns issues related to the problem of truth value in photography, vis-à-vis issues of fictionality and the powers of the false. This discussion is set forth through the analysis of two photographic series—Tsukada Mamoru's Identical Twins (2003), a series of staged photographs of two young men dressed alternately in Japan's imperial military uniform and modern casual dress, posing in a jungle setting, coinciding with the public debates on Japan's possible involvement in the Iraq war in 2003. The author utilizes the ideas and questions raised through this series to understand the powers and position of the second series, Suzuki Norio's 1974 photographs of Onoda Hiroo, the Japanese straggler who stayed for three decades in the jungles of Lubang Island—photographs that were directly responsible for Onoda's repatriation to Japan. The discussion in the text also illuminates a second idea—how complex is Japan's position toward the trauma of defeat and the specters of war, reflecting the complicated emotions experienced toward war memory and its representation in photographs, films, art, and other visual forms. The analysis of the two series delves into issues of photography theory, on questions of indexicality and performativity, and the relations between photographic images in specific cultural climate. The author analyzes how these images may indicate the political fluctuations between the Asia-Pacific War, the 1970s, and 2003, looking at such issues as indexicality and performativity, ghostly presences and staged scenes, truth and fiction, using photography as an immediate visual reference. Through the text, political, social, and cultural questions concerning wartime Japan are intertwined with an analysis of the visual methods, creating a complex view of visual representation and its means and methods.
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Research Article| May 01 2017
Photography and Invisibility: Indexicality and Performativity Asia-Pacific War Memory in Tsukada Mamoru's Identical Twins Series (2003) and Suzuki Norio's Photos of Onoda Hiroo (1974)
positions (2017) 25 (2): 389–429.
Ayelet Zohar; Photography and Invisibility: Indexicality and Performativity Asia-Pacific War Memory in Tsukada Mamoru's Identical Twins Series (2003) and Suzuki Norio's Photos of Onoda Hiroo (1974). positions 1 May 2017; 25 (2): 389–429. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-3852273
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