Wakana Tsuji is a Master of Arts student in Curriculum and Pedagogy program at University of Toronto (OISE), photographer, and graphic designer. She is also working as a graduate research assistant for Institute for Knowledge Innovation and Technology. Her research interest is centered on digital media and technology for collaborative learning, second language learning, research-creation, and visual ethnography. She was born and spent most of her life in Japan, moved to New Brunswick for her Bachelor of Arts degree in 2009, and immigrated to Canada in 2016. Outside school, photography is her passion. She enjoys shooting anything in nature, whether it is natural or artificial objects; however, her focus tends to be on moss, trees, leaves, and wild animals.
Why did you get involved in this project?
The first time I participated, it was because completion of the project was a course requirement. However, for the second and third time it was my intention out of pure pleasure of getting my creativity out through photography.
Did the one week turn-around for the work help or hinder your creativity?
One week worked great for me. If it were shorter, it would have hindered my creativity as it made me feel rushed to complete it within the limited time, juggling with other responsibilities at the time. I might have chosen not to participate. If it were longer, it would probably have worked well but longer than a week was unnecessary.
How did you feel about working on a project where you didn’t know who you were collaborating with?
It was interesting and fun to get to know a bit about other people who I wouldn’t have met if there were not this project. It was also interesting how people responded to their ‘prompt’ in their own ways, which probably was influenced greatly by their backgrounds and interests.
Has being involved in the project changed your thoughts on creativity?
YES! Prior to this, I used to always take pictures of something I liked, but never thought about getting my messages through using the images. I took pics of what I thought was nice, uploaded it on Instagram, got some Likes and followers, and that was it. There were tons of photographers out there uploading their stunning photos, and I always felt that mine were not good enough (sorry for repeating the same thing I said in class…) although I wasn’t doing that professionally and didn’t intend to compete with them. I eventually quit at the point I got busy with schoolwork and never picked it up until I got involved in this project. I learned that there is no right or wrong answer. The number of Likes or followers is important but doesn’t mean a lot. The important things I learned were that I should always focus on expressing things that would otherwise have lost their opportunity to be expressed, in my own creative way.
I feel a deep gratitude to you, Professor Onodera, for initiating this project and giving me your word to keep creativity alive. My experience through this has significantly influenced my digital autoethnography project (I initiated personal photography projects right after my first participation, which became a major component of the work, because of my experience with this) and set my direction both as an artist-researcher.
If you worked on several videos, what kept you coming back for more and how many did you do?
I did three. One for the course requirement, one for bonus mark for the course, and the last for the massive/micro project. I kept coming back because of the pleasure of ‘telling’ someone’s message through photographs, as I already mentioned, and learning experiences of how artworks can show things that are hidden, suppressed, or hard to be verbalized. Seeing other people’s unique interpretation was also an amazing experience for me.