I have been intrigued by public places where everyone loses their identity and becomes just another face in a crowd. To some people it may feel lonely due to the number of strangers, but to others it may feel relaxing/liberated being anonymous. What people feel in such a situation depends on their experience, personality, and mental state. Therefore, a public place serves as a way to reconsider one’s identity by in turn losing it. Under such conditions I somehow start looking at myself objectively as I look at others in a crowd, and then a question arises: who am I? This is the question I pose to viewers through my artwork.

In order to replicate the situation where objectivity toward the self arises in mind, I use blue as a filter to look at an artwork itself through. I consider blue to be a unique color that can evoke both positive and negative feelings (sad/depressing vs. soothing/relaxing). Impressions that viewers get from the color depend on their mental state as well as on how they relate their perception of colors and their own memories to what is depicted. Also, blue separates the artwork itself from the places depicted, hiding the specificity so that anyone can relate to the work. Therefore, blue enhances viewers’ objectivity toward a painting itself as well as toward what they perceive.

My works are based on my experience as a foreigner in the U.S. and as an Americanized person suffering from reverse culture shock in Japan. Being unable to belong to a specific community brings a sense of isolation; however, it also feels liberated at the same time. Using blue as a filter, I started depicting these contradicting emotions through two series of works. The train station series puts emphasis on the loss of identity in a crowd and tries to reinforce viewers’ questioning toward themselves: “Who am I?” or “Where do I belong to?” The umbrella series shows a lonely girl’s search for a place to be by contrasting differences/distances between an individual and a group. Whereas the train station series involves a viewer as one of a crowd without depicting any specific character, the umbrella series uses the girl as someone that viewers may relate to.

As I have been using blue in my works as a filter, I am interested in how a filter influences the perception of situations. Recently, many are eager to control the view/perception of themselves by posting nice-looking photos on social media. I assume that they are pursuing their identity by seeking positive reactions and approval from others. Whereas people merge into a crowd in real public places by removing their identity, they try to be one of a crowd online by pursuing/creating their identity. I consider the use of filters on social media to be their ways of searching identity thus can be related to my past works, especially the umbrella series.

In order to incorporate this use of filters into my artwork, I have combined my past two series. While representing a search of identity by contrasting an individual with others as in the umbrella series, I take elements from the train station series and adopt a new use of filters. I use dots/patterns to hide/mask unnecessary things in the background or things that can be ignored. As for this usage of dots/patterns, I was inspired by decorative masking tapes as well as by screen tones that are widely used in comics. These dots are used not only to decorate background or to depict shadows, but also to omit details in order to drag attention to what should be focused on. By applying additional filters to increase objectivity toward the depicted situations, I still pose the same question of identity, leaving the interpretation of works open to each viewer.