From Yokohama to Manchuria : a photography-based investigation of nostalgia in the construction of Japanese landscape
This practice-based research examines, analyses and responds to the use of nostalgia as an ideological mechanism in the development of Japanese national identity and as an integral aspect of modernity. In discussions of the construction of national identities, whether in terms of 'narrative' or material culture, 'image' and 'vision' have generally been used as metaphorical terms. This thesis investigates the use of nostalgia in photography as a de facto visual construction of national space. Three groups of archive photographic material are examined; landscapes of the late 19th century genre of Yokohama shashin, or tourist photo, pictorial photography of the Taishö-period (1912 - 1926), and propaganda photography produced in Japanese-occupied Manchuria from the 30s and 40s. Nostalgia is then investigated in contemporary sites of leisure and consumerism, where it is considered as elemental in attempts to redefine the identity of Japan as a post-industrial society. In exploring the use of nostalgia in different historical periods and styles of photography, the primary objective of this research is not to provide a critique of the formal attributes of these images. It is rather to examine, both theoretically and visually, nostalgia's reoccurrence as a mechanism of historical erasure, in which each manifestation posits its own version of authenticity.