Moonlight Night in a Bag

Katsue Kitazono’s Visual Poetry


這本名為《カバンのなかの月夜,北園克衛の造型詩》(Moonlight night in a bag,北園克衛的造型詩),說是詩集,英文名字卻寫成《Kitasono Katue Photographs》,英語與日語名字為此書設下了兩種截然不同的定義,但我想,或許可以故且將其稱作「影像詩集」。



此書中主要收錄了北園克衛名為「Plastic Poem」的影像詩系列之中,他將各種印有文字的紙張剪裁、揉毁、拼貼、排列。文字在「Plastic Poem」當中並沒有任何意義,你不需要讀懂紙張內的多國語言,也能自紙張的呈現方式、物件的配置之中,感受到北園克衛的影像詩的趣味。

Katsue Kitazono was a renowned Japanese editor, painter, designer and photographer. However, the only tag he was most tirelessly dedicated to would be the one as a poet.

The poem collection Moonlight night in a bag was given an English title Kitasono Katue – Photographs, which sets a completely different tone from the original Japanese title. To me, the collection could perhaps be called as Visual Poetry.

It may not be entirely convincing to describe the photos of Kitazono as poetic. After all, the abundant amount of whitespace does not seem to hold too much sentiment or imply any underlying messages. However, this is exactly what Kitazono pursued. He did not intend to make poetic photographs, he rather treated photography itself as poetry.

To get into Kitazono’s world of visual poetry, one has to first start with his poems in text form. Kitazono’s composition stressed on the combination of characters, as well as the visual orientation of the printed form, without compromising on the contrast and tension of all the elements together. In his poems, words have gone beyond mere symbols of thoughts. They are unleashed from all kinds of logical constraints. The character の could be written as just a curve; whereas the character 黑 (black) could be replaced by a square densely stroked. The same structure can well be applied to his visual poetry.

This book features a series of Kitazono’s visual poetry called Plastic Poem, in which he made use of paper printed with words as a medium to create a collage of visual feast. Word itself has no significance in Plastic Poem; it is the juxtaposition of elements that create a world of its own. Readers do not even need to understand the different languages on the shattered paper to feel the playfully poetic quality presented by Kitazono’s visual poetry.