If I were to imagine a fictive nation, I can … isolate somewhere in the world (faraway) a certain number of features, and out of these features deliberately form a system. It is this system which I shall call: Japan.
— Roland Barthes, Empire of Signs
Forty-five years after Barthes published his compelling, subtle work, composed of a series of “flashes”, insights into aspects of the culture Barthes interacted with and witnessed during his visit to Japan, I took Barthes’ text as a starting point for this series of images on ‘Japan’ as an empire of signs. Faraway is my own reading of The Empire of Signs—both the book and the country—I took these images around Tokyo while I contemplated the chapter texts that inspired them. My own ‘Japan’ is different from but just as much a construction as Barthes’ Empire of Signs.
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