- Victoria Donohoe, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Yoshio Itagaki, a Japanese artist living in New York, portrays moonscapes of the future in his "Space Tourism" solo show of digital photos at Tyler Gallery. As he playfully sees it, scientific expeditions will have given way to hordes of tourists crowding the scene - an ethnic cross section of newlyweds, college students, children grimacing at the camera, and ordinary sightseers rather than heroic astronauts.
Viewers are left to ponder the political and social implications of such conquest of outer space. One does not expect any special intelligence in work such as this. So all the more is our surprise on encountering Itagaki's challenge to us to consider what the future may bring. Besides, his chosen medium, photography, already had played a crucial role in space exploration. Seamlessly, then, he offers a continuing probe.
- Ted Koppel, ABC TV Network "Nightline"
We have to at least ask the question, "what if there is no life anywhere in the universe, except here, on earth?" If we are the only living creature anywhere, well, that means there is a lot of countries out there to visit, which inspired a photographer, Yoshio Itagaki to imagine the universe as one big tourist attraction. With every new planet, in every new star, there is a photo opportunity, smile! Because if we are alone, then the universe is one big empty vacation land...
- Ken Johnson, The New York Times
Through the miracle of digital technology, this Japanese-born New York artist produces photomontages depicting ordinary tourists on the moon, with the earth looming over the horizon in every case. In another series, tourists are inserted into video game scenes. Something about the disconnected rootlessness of modern life is implied.
- Edward J. Sozanski, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Yoshio Itagaki makes us aware of a shift in public attitude toward space science and exploration that you might not have noticed, because it occurred gradually. Thirty years ago, space travel was still adventurous and even heroic. Now it's so routine that we hardly notice when a space shuttle takes off or lands. Space travel has been domesticated to the point that the danger and technological wizardry have become banal, if not invisible.
Itagaki offers a composite photo that would have seemed fantastic a half-century ago - a Japanese wedding party posed on the moon, with earth rising in the background. We've seen the original picture of the site so many times that now it's just as amusing curiosity.
- Barbara Bloemink, director at Guggenheim Museum Las Vegas
"Constructed Realities" exhibition catalog
Yoshio Itagaki uses digital means to play on humorous stereotypes. Whether Japanese weddings, banished Native Americans or global tourists, Itagaki photographs images of people being photographed on the moon. The lunar backdrop and visible image of the Earth are incidental to those being photographed, reflecting humans essential egocentric nature.
- Anne Collins Goodyear, curator
"Dreams in the Void: Post-Heroic Visions of Space" exhibition catalog
Itagaki's digital pictures leave the viewer to decipher the political and social implications of the environment that his nonchalant tourists inhabit. - omission - One image in his Honeymoon series, HoneyMoon: Wedding (group) 1998, a large Japanese family celebrates a marriage in front of the rising Earth. Most striking is not the contrast between traditional and western clothing, but the conventional trappings of the ceremony itself in the "futuristic" environment of space. What makes Itagaki's images eerily "real" is precisely that they don't engage in a heroic narrative of space conquest. Instead, the images feature the common ramifications of such conquest.
- Mary Thomas, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Yoshio Itagaki's tourist and wedding-on-the-moon photographic series is a critique of Japanese culture but also of all who participate in contemporary life. The photographs are funny and quick while they are poignant frames of tradition frozen and relegated to nostalgia.
- TimeOut New York
Walking on the Moon: Don't worry- you haven't fallen asleep and awakened in some distant future. Visiting the moon is not (yet) like whisking the family down to Disneyland to ride Space Mountain.
- Roberta Fallon, Philadelphia Weekly
Moving beyond NASA's past, Yoshio Itagaki prefers to play with thoughts of the future. His digital color photographs merge images of tourists and wedding couples with a gerry-rigged moonscape to imply that humans are vacationing or honeymooning on the moon. Juxtaposing human faces and bodies with the forbidding moonscape makes for beautiful, surreal and sweetly funny couplings. Not ever Disney could turn the moon into a theme park, but Itagaki's idea is a wry commentary on the commercial possibilities of space.
- Yoko Takahasi, GQ Japan
Yoshio Itagaki's work conveys both sense of humor and critical messages. He seems to be interested in showing bizarre human behavior. In tourist series, he superimposes tourists from various countries into a computer made futuristic background. These typical "tourists" are taking pictures of themselves on the moon or in front of cyber-Buddha statues.
It seems taking pictures in front of spectacular backgrounds is the only way for tourists to prove their sightseeing experiences. Just taking pictures, they feel they fully experienced the sight. Nothing can be real without a record of it in our modern society.
- Holland Cotter, The New York Times
Yoshio Itagaki's computer-processed pictures transport tourists and honey-mooners to a lunar landscape where they pose and mug in front of the distant planet Earth. Almost as extraterrestrial looking.
- Chieko Hirano, Studio Voice
Yoshio Itagaki superimposes images of tourists taking pictures onto moonscape backgrounds. This computer processed photography series is called "Tourists on the Moon." These carefully composed surrealistic photographs reveal the emptiness of the consuming public. Tourists from all over the world are carrying shopping bags and taking tourist-pictures. To see all the people end up doing exactly the same thing is quite hopeless. Another series of Itagaki's on display is "Honeymoon: Wedding." Wedding pictures of Japanese couples are placed on the moon landscapes. Some couples are dressed in with traditional Japanese costumes. This bizarre juxtaposition of the moon and traditional ceremonies makes the work remarkable.
- Alice Winn, Pittsburgh City Paper
For Yoshio Itagaki, a romantic conception of the universe still hovers around the fringes of his understanding, framed between the polarities of nature and culture, of seeing and being seen. With digital technology, he creates snapshots of Japanese newlyweds on the moon, traveling the vast solar system to realize that they're alone and that it's up to them to become all the things they had hoped they would find.
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