In 2005 I visited Yasukuni Jinja, the shrine of the war-dead in Tokyo. It is a controversial shrine that makes news in the United States when the Japanese Prime Minister goes to pay respects. I went to the museum next to the shrine, watched a short film justifying Japan's aggression into Asia and walked through rooms filled with uniforms, weapons, bombs and planes. It was all very creepy and strange. This must be the only place in Japan that still so fervently and openly touts aggressive nationalism. Then I walked into the last couple of rooms. They were different from the others. The walls were lined with photograph after photograph of soldiers who died and became "gods." Nearly all of the faces that stared out at me were exceedingly young. My feelings of revulsion turned to sadness. Though unintended, what a compelling argument against war these photographs represented! These solders were not "fragile cherry blossoms" ready to bloom gloriously for a moment and then fall for their country. They were young boys who lost their lives far too quickly to serve the end games of old warriors. I decided to make a series to commemorate the young casualties of war. I used my camera to record some of the faces. I dressed the soldiers in a protective robot shell that could withstand the landscape of war, whether it be the burning fires of the jungle or nuclear winter. I named this series, Hiro, which plays on Hiroshi, a common Japanese name, on Emperor Hirohito, Hiroshima, and the English word "hero."
2006 - 2009 mixed media photography and lithographic ink.