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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.


Tsukue Akimoto 秋元机

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.

訪問完後,秋元机流露出的鬼馬真性情。Akimoto shows his vivid character after the interview

訪問之前,我估計秋元机必定有在外國留學或生活的經驗,作品才會浸透著這麼原始的歐美漫畫的風格。「我4年前才第一次出國呢,當時是去上海。」完全意料之外,而且這個國家還是在亞洲的。「回想當時的心情是真的十分驚歎、雀躍。」他用EXCITING來形容首次出國。「當去外國旅行時,最讓人開心的應該是體驗到一些自己國家所有沒有的東西和經驗,當中的文字、人們的裝扮、習慣和氣氛等種種皆讓我感到新鮮驚訝。」

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.


我十分好奇那骨子裏的異國情懷是如何而來的呢?

I am very curious where does this apparently inherent exotic creativity come from?

Ejacke Wall

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.


要說秋元机的作品很美國風,其實又不是的,它是一由些截然不同的東西混合而成的和諧;像宇治金時,甜甜的紅豆加上苦澀的抺茶,卻拼出獨有的味道。

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.


「我不要模仿,從沒想要變成一個美國人或特意做美式的風格,我希望能做出有日本本土特色、屬於自己風格的創作。在這一點上,王家衛的電影給我很大的啟發。記得還是20多歲的時候,我第一次看《阿飛正傳》時是多麼的震撼,電影中那種獨特節奏、音樂和影象,那種前所未有的味道,推翻了自小對香港電影就是成龍式的武打喜劇的固有想法。我希望自己也能做出具個人特色和風格的作品。」


那麼,秋元机已滿意他現時的創作了嗎? 「我不會說是我的作品是絶對模仿,而是那些外國風也是我自己的一部分,是內化了;對我而言,我現在的創作是100%的原創。」


“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


秋元機的作品切切實實地是在日本這個土壤成長和生活而孕育而成的。「我用來創作的紙皮,大概七成是從我家附近的超級市場或別人丟棄的雜物中拾回來,以水果蔬菜的箱子為多,其餘是我往外地出遊時順道帶回來的。這些別人所棄的,是我的寶物。」


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.“

秋元机在香港便撿到這些寶物 Akimoto has collected these treasures in Hong Kong

「這些有特色的紙皮,是你沒法網購回來的!你可以訂購一些由外國空運回來的東西,但你買不到盛載著那些東西的包裝箱。這些箱子,你必須親自將它們帶回來。每次我外遊時,也會特別留意一些垃圾堆或店舖巷子;對我而言,這些是每個城市記憶的寶藏。看!我今次在香港便撿到了這些寶物!」 他邊說邊指著展覽廳另一邊疊著的紙皮箱堆,而它們也順道成為了展覽的主題展品之一。「這些箱子都很有趣啊!在日本很難找得到的。」


“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.

購物單據與紙皮上原有的標簽結合起來 The collage of cardboard and receipt.

包裝箱的紙皮就好像passport 般,為內裏的東西記錄了它的來源地、曾經穿梭過的運輸網絡、運送員等等的資料,秋元机的作品中好像都刻意地保留了快遞條碼和印刷。旅行中的經歷,異國的城市體驗也影響著他的創作。


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


「我特別喜歡收集印有文字的箱子,看著紙皮上那些看不懂的異國符號,對我而言就好像看外語漫畫一樣,雖然看不懂文字,但卻能通過圖像意會內容。」陌生的外文成為了意象符號,也是他的創作特色之一。說著秋元机拿著作品得意地告訴我:「哈哈!看這些像是阿拉伯語的蛇仔文,其實是我自己創造的。另外,這個看似日文平假名的字,其實是假的,根本沒有這個字的呢!」我細看,果真如此!他的造字與紙皮上原有的文字或圖案結合得天衣無縫。


“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.

Unreadable ! 秋元机喜歡自創不能閱讀的文字 Akimoto likes to create the readable words


Unreadable Comic vol.1 (圖片來源:www.flickr.com/photos/akimototsukue)

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.


「故事的內容,及當中的文字對白,全是由你創作的嗎?真的很像是小朋友的故事呢,充滿童真!」「全是我的創作啊,連手寫的文字也是我模仿了小朋友的寫法。我自小便很喜歡手造東西,尤其喜歡上美術課的手工堂。我覺得自己都頗有童心的呢(笑)!」


“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)! “


網上連載漫畫 "The Big One and The Little One"

在秋元机的雕塑拼貼作品中的,滿眼是超人面具、公仔貼紙、現成的街頭小玩具、Lego方塊、鐵甲人或城堡等,滿載童真,也有男人的浪漫。「每當繪畫時都讓我重新經驗兒時畫畫的愉快,我至今也保留這種心態,也希望其他人看到我的作品時也會開懷大笑。」


看秋元机的作品,讓我樂了一整天。


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


後記 Postscript:


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.


鳴謝 Acknowledgement:miniminigallary


上: 香港展覽海報 下: 深圳展覽海報 (Exhibition posters of Hong Kong and Shenzhen)

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