» art244.344 » Art244.344 » class meetings » Fred Korematsu’s 98th birthday, and the power of a Google Image

Fred Korematsu’s 98th birthday, and the power of a Google Image


Today on the Google search homepage:

What we can see in the image (as recorded by  Art244.344 Digital Processes class on Monday)

An colorful illustration of an older man

(hover over the man and “Fred Korematsu’s 98th birthday” appears in text to explain the image)

The man is wearing the medal of freedom

This medal is the highest US honor bestowed on a civilian, given by the president of the US

The letterforms that spell google are constructed from red, white and blue and fold over as if made of lengths of cloth

appear to be ribbons, connotes military ribbons, or awards earned, red and white stripes with blue connote US flag

Pink flowers organically spread across the page, adding color and life

The flowers appear to be cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms have a strong history and symbolism for Japan

Small grey stark long buildings

The buildings seem to echo images of interment camps for Japanese people in the US in 1942-45

Photos from a collection housed at Bancroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley.  The photos span from 1942-1945 at various internment camps around the U.S. operated by the War Relocation Authority.

Small grey fence

The fence appears to be a barbed-wire fence, and  encloses

Many small grey (non-colorful) people

Other observations:

The flowers are the same size as the people behind the fence, and link in a line with the people.

Yesterday, the president signed an executive order to detain Muslim people.

Google took a stance on the executive order.

Google reaches everybody.



Image Designed by Freepik


the Cherry blossom is laden with symbolism and history, especially in Japan:
(wickipedia, January 30, 2017)

Japanese: “an enduring metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life” [Choy Lee, Khoon. Japan—between Myth and Reality. 1995, page 142.]

The Sakurakai or Cherry Blossom Society was the name chosen by young officers within the Imperial Japanese Army in September 1930 for their secret society established with the goal of reorganizing the state along totalitarian militaristic lines, via a military coup d’état if necessary.[13]

During World War II, the cherry blossom was used to motivate the Japanese people, to stoke nationalism and militarism among the populace.[14] Even prior to the war, they were used in propaganda to inspire “Japanese spirit,” as in the “Song of Young Japan,” exulting in “warriors” who were “ready like the myriad cherry blossoms to scatter.”[15] In 1932, Akiko Yosano‘s poetry urged Japanese soldiers to endure sufferings in China and compared the dead soldiers to cherry blossoms.[16] Arguments that the plans for the Battle of Leyte Gulf, involving all Japanese ships, would expose Japan to serious danger if they failed, were countered with the plea that the Navy be permitted to “bloom as flowers of death.”[17] The last message of the forces on Peleliu was “Sakura, Sakura” — cherry blossoms.[18] Japanese pilots would paint them on the sides of their planes before embarking on a suicide mission, or even take branches of the trees with them on their missions.[14] A cherry blossom painted on the side of the bomber symbolized the intensity and ephemerality of life;[19] in this way, the aesthetic association was altered such that falling cherry petals came to represent the sacrifice of youth in suicide missions to honor the emperor.[14][20] The first kamikaze unit had a subunit called Yamazakura or wild cherry blossom.[20] The government even encouraged the people to believe that the souls of downed warriors were reincarnated in the blossoms.[14]

In its colonial enterprises, imperial Japan often planted cherry trees as a means of “claiming occupied territory as Japanese space”.[14]

Cherry blossoms are a prevalent symbol in Irezumi, the traditional art of Japanese tattoos. In tattoo art, cherry blossoms are often combined with other classic Japanese symbols like koi fish, dragons or tigers.[21]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *