專訪日本插畫家秋元机，異國紙皮上建構不能閱讀的異域世界 The Unreadable Exotic World-Interview with Japanese illustrator Akimoto
Updated: Jan 16, 2019
色彩繽紛的紙皮上，繪著造型奇趣的漫畫，夾雜著陌生的異國文字，尚未踏進展場，眼睛已被一幅充滿異國拼貼風的畫牆吸引。與秋元机（Tsukue AKIMOTO）認識是數個月前的事了，因為我在TARTEz介紹了他的紙藝作品而在網上認識了他，聊著知到他即將來港展覽，便老實不客氣地要和他做個訪問。原來，他在「UNKNOWN ASIA ART EXCHANGE OSAKA 2017」中獲得由區德誠頒發的評審獎品，便是為他辦這個個展。
A colorful and exotic world is created on the exhibition wall, mixing with interesting cartoon figures and strange foreign characters by the Japanese illustrator Tsukue AKIMOTO. I got to know Mr. Akimoto six months ago when I introduced his art work at TARTEz. When I was told that this exhibition is exclusively staged by Benny Au, a designer and in-charge of miniminigallery, I boldly asked for an interview with this creative artist. Akimoto won the judging prize presented by Benny for the "UNKNOWN ASIA ART EXCHANGE OSAKA 2017" Award, and this exhibition is the prize.
甫進入展場，主辦這次展覽的miniminigallery負責人兼設計師區德誠為我介紹創作者——日本插畫家秋元机。「始めまして、どうぞよろしくお願いします。」我先以異國口音的憋腳日語作開場白；「Nice to meet you!」個子高挑，留著自然中長髮的秋元机，以一句對我而言也是異國的語言回應著。從那些可愛奇趣的畫風中，想像不到一個神情這樣認真的他。他準備了一本小冊子，預備在溝通不到的時候以書寫溝通。我讓他可以用日語回答，溝通不到時，我們就用任何語言或方法溝通好了，這樣，他以乎放下了一些憂慮，表情也開始放鬆起來了。
On entering Akimoto’s exhibition, Benny immediately introduced me to him. He is a tall guy with medium long hair, and nobody could imagine this artistic illustrator with a cute and funny style is a serious looking person. He has even brought with a note book to prepare for the communication with a foreigner when he may not be able to express himself in a language other than Japanese. I told him that he could answer in Japanese, and we could also communicate in English or by any other methods. Immediately he is relieved.
Before the visit, I thought that Akimoto must have experiences studying or living in a foreign country, where he was inspired by the style of the original European and American cultures. I was shocked when he said, "I only went abroad for the first time four years ago, when I went to Shanghai." It was completely unexpected, because Shanghai is an Asian city in China, nowhere near Europe or America. He used ‘EXCITING’ to describe his first trip abroad. The most enjoyable thing is to experience things and experiences that are not in your country. I am enjoyably astonished by the variety in costumes, habits and all aspects of the foreign people.“
展牆上掛著一張張黑膠碟大小的方形畫，如作品系列的名稱「Ejacke」般，像是彩繪的唱片封套一般 ( E 是日語中「繪」或「畫」的拼寫)。原來封套畫是由現成的包裝紙皮箱中剪裁出來，再加上拼貼和繪畫而成，天馬行空的創意和紙皮上原有印刷圖案結合，雖然浸透著異國奇特之風，但出奇地沒有任何違和感，壓根兒是原裝印刷出來的一樣。
On the exhibition wall are many Vinyl record sized paintings. The name of this series "Ejacke" implies that they are painting/drawing on Vinyl record cover (The E in "Ejacke" is the Japanese pronunciation of 「絵」, meaning painting or paint in Japanese. ) The Ejacke were glued together from some paper cut out from the carton boxes. Then he enhanced it with his drawings or collage. Although this combination of his creative ideas and his original drawing on the cardboard is saturated with exotic styles, surprisingly it does not have any sense of violation. It looks just like an original printed cardboard.
I am very curious where does this apparently inherent exotic creativity come from?
看王家衛電影的震撼 The cultural shock of watching the movies of Wong Kar-wai
「我並沒有特別想過這個問題，如細想，或許是外國電影和音樂對我的影響吧！小時候已很愛看李小龍、成龍等的電影，至青少年時期，則很沉迷看美國電影，到20多歲時開始接觸更多亞洲電影。我真的十分喜歡電影呢，在大學時代甚至是修讀了電影製作課程，希望創作獨立電影。」 除了電影，秋元机小時候也頗沉迷看外國漫畫，或許因為這樣，他繪畫的漫畫角色造型帶有美國卡通如Simpson、Scooby -Doo 或South park 般的搞鬼傻氣。雖然如此，拼貼的公仔、甚或有些漫畫主角，仍是時有日本超人或機動戰士等的影子。
“I have never thought of this before. Now that you have mentioned this, I think it is the influence of foreign movies and music! I used to watch movies of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan when I was young. When I was a teenager, I was very addicted to watching American movies. I started to get into more Asian movies when I was in my 20s. I really like movies. I even took film production courses in college and hope to create independent films.“ In addition to movies, Akimoto was obsessed with watching foreign comics when he was a child. Perhaps because of this, the comic characters he drawn have an American cartoon-feel like Simpson, Scooby-Doo or South Park. However, the characters he created still have the vague taste of Japanese comic characters like the Japanese superman or Gundam.
It is said that the work of Akimoto is very American, but it is not. It is a harmony of something completely different; it is like uji-kintoki, a type of Japanese icy dessert, which has the unique taste mixed from sweet red beans and bitter green tea.
“I don't want to imitate; I never want to become an American or to deliberately follow the American style. I hope to have my own Japanese creation with my own style. At this point, Wong Kar-wai’s movie gives me a lot of inspiration. I remember when I was in my 20s, I had my first cultural shock when I watched Wong Kar-wai's Days of Being Wild. The unique rhythm, the music and the images of the movie, the unprecedented taste had shocked me out of my long-conceived image of Jackie Chan’s traditional martial arts comedy of the Hong Kong films. I hope that I can also create works with personal characteristics and styles, just like Wong Kar-wai.“
So, is Akimoto already satisfied with his current creation? “I will not say that my work is an absolute imitation, but the foreign style is also part of myself, the internalized me; for me, my current creation is 100% my original. “
垃圾堆中尋寶 Treasure Hunt in the Garbage Dump
The work of Akimoto is 100% born and created in Japan. “About 70% of the carton boxes I used in my creation were picked up from supermarkets near my home or from fruits and vegetables carton boxes discarded by other people, and the rest were taken back when I traveled. What others have abandoned is my treasure.“
“These unique carton boxes cannot be bought online! You can buy some things that are shipped back by air from abroad, but you can't buy a carton box containing those things that you buy. You must bring them back in person. Whenever I travel, I always pay special attention to some garbage dumps or shop alleys; for me, these are the treasures of each city's memory. Look! I have picked up these treasures in Hong Kong this time! “ He said while pointing at a pile of carton boxes stacked on the other side of the exhibition hall. They have also become one of the exhibits of the exhibition. “These boxes are very interesting! They are hard to find in Japan.
The carton box from a foreign country is like a passport. It records the source of the materials inside, the transportation network that it has been shuttled, the transporter, etc. The work of Akimoto seems to have deliberately retained the courier barcode and printing, the experiences of his travel, these exotic urban experiences have been manifested artistically in his creation.
那些不能閱讀的 Those Unreadable Signs
“I especially like to collect boxes with foreign characters or symbols that I don't understand. To me they look like those manga, mean comics in Japanese, made from a foreign language. Although I can't read the words, I can guess the contents from the visual and plots in the comics. An unfamiliar foreign language has become a group of symbols, and they have also become one of his creative features." Speaking of Akimoto's work, he proudly told me, “Ha ha! Look at these snake-like words that look like Arabic; they are actually my creation. “ Moreover, this word that looks like Japanese hiragana is actually fake, there is no such Japanese character at all! When I look closely, it really is fake! The fake words that he created are seamlessly combined with the original text or pattern on the cardboard.
或許是對這些偽文字的興趣，引發他創作了Unreadable Comic vol.1。漫畫中的對白都是他創造的不能閱讀（unreadable) 的字，讀者憑漫畫角色加上自己的想像，進入天馬行空的故事空間中翶翔。除了這個展覽的作品，秋元机自2013年開始便於網上平台上連載漫畫 “The Big One and The Litte One”， 漫畫內容就像是小學生的日記一般，說著生活中的瑣碎事，看得人會心微笑 。
Perhaps the interest in these pseudo-characters led him to the creation of Unreadable Comic vol.1. The dialogue in the comics is the unreadable word he created. Combining imagination and the presentation of the characters in the comic, readers can freely surf in the story space. In addition to the works of this exhibition, Akimoto has been publishing his comics online called “The Big One and The Litte One” since 2013. The comic content is like a diary of a primary school student, talking about life. Readers of his column will smile heartily to themselves at those trivial things in the life of an innocent child.
“The contents of the story, and the dialogue are all created by you? It is really like a story of a child, full of innocence!”, I asked. “All my creations, even the handwritten text are imitated child-like creations. I have been very fond of making things since I was a child, especially the hand-made art creation in art classes. I think I am quite childlike (laughs)! “
In Akimoto’s collection of collage sculptures, it is full of superman's masks, stickers, street toys, Lego squares, armored people or castles; they are full of innocence, and man's romance. “Whenever I paint, I always re-experience the joy of painting when I was a child. I still retain this mentality, and I hope that other people will laugh heartily when they see my work. “
Looking at the artworks of Mr. Akimoto makes me happy the whole day.
訪問 Interview/ 阿茹 Ah-Yue
文 Write/ 阿茹 Ah-Yue、Little Tai
秋元机這個在2018年10月初在香港PMQ的展覽，舉辦的契機緣於他於「UNKNOWN ASIA ART EXCHANGE OSAKA 2017」中獲得由香港藝術家區德誠 (Benny Au) 頒發的評審獎，而評審則需送一份禮物給予得獎的藝術家。是次「秋元机怪市場」個展便是Benny 給予秋元机的禮物，同時也為香港觀眾帶來一次欣賞秋元机作品的機會。
而TARTEz也有幸與秋元机的展覽的結下了小小緣份。因為我們另一篇介紹紙品藝術的文章形容他的作品為 bizarre and exotic，而秋元機也以這兩個字作為他香港和深圳展覽的宣傳字句。
Akimoto's exhibition at PMQ in Hong Kong in early October 2018 was held as an opportunity for him to receive a jury award from the Hong Kong designer, Mr. Benny Au, who bestowed the jury award in "UNKNOWN ASIA ART EXCHANGE OSAKA 2017", as a gift to the winning artist. The solo exhibition of "Strange Market by Desk" is a gift from Mr. Benny Au to Mr. Akimoto. It also gives the Hong Kong audience an opportunity to enjoy the works of Akimoto.
TARTEz also had the privilege of getting some connection with the exhibition of Akimoto. Because in another article when we talked about paper artworks we have described Mr. Akimoto’s works as “bizarre and exotic” and Akimoto also uses “bizarre and exotic” as the advertising title for his Shenzhen exhibitions. We are very happy with this spinoff advertisement.