⟨ Book ⟩

Truth is stranger than fiction

In Color In Japan by Shin Noguchi

Words / Elva Pang
Potography / Shin Noguchi
Translation / Fanny Chan

關於幽默感,余光中曾在《幽默的境界》中說:「幽默實在是荒謬的解藥。」這句說話正好形容日本攝影師野口晉的作品,他的幽默感,讓荒謬的世界變得更有趣,偶然還帶點浪漫溫馨。「我嘗試把馬克吐溫的一句名言『真實比小說更荒誕』呈現出來,以及證明這句說話在作為一種視覺語言的相片裡是對的:孩子們天馬行空的想像、盼望、未來的各種可能性;大人們半被迫地參與社會活動,但仍然展現著個人的力量,有時候很痛苦,有時候很有趣。我們能從中看到人們生活的痕跡。」鍾情於街頭攝影的野口晉認為街上隨時會發生一些「不尋常的時刻」,他用鏡頭捕捉了這些美麗、充滿人情味和帶點異常的時刻,相片流露出的樸實幽默,為枯燥平凡的生活帶來一點歡樂。「我只是在聆聽我們社會的聲音。傾注情感在我們每天的生活裡,是自然流露的人性——有時候很悲傷,有時候則身處在很不合理的環境之中。拍攝對象告訴我生命的意義和價值,而拍照則是用來肯定人的存在——人類業力的存在。」野口晉說,攝影對他來說是一個機會來肯定自身的存在和接受它原來的樣子。他透過鏡頭來窺看別人,同時也在檢視自己,不完美的影像背後是一個又一個偶然又美好的瞬間。

野口晉最新推出的攝影集《In Color In Japan》收錄了超過一百張相片,記錄了日本的另一面。「當我受到Eyeshot Publisher的邀請,成為他們的個人攝影集系列的其中一員,我告訴他們我希望能採用我在日本拍下的照片,以及只選擇彩色的照片。這是因為我想觀者能進入一個真實的世界,以及讓他們知道這些情景也會發生在他們身上。」拿著相機在街頭裡遊遊蕩蕩,左顧右盼,街頭攝影除了需要發現的眼睛、迅速地按下快門的決心,還需要一些運氣。「在這個企劃中,我嘗試透過人們攜帶著的不尋常物件來展現日本的另一面。捕捉一些真正能吸引觀眾的東西說起來容易,做起來卻很困難。就在我認為這系列需要更多的意義時,我走向一位女士——一位母親和她的一對打扮相似的雙胞胎,在銀座的街道上獨個兒走著,一個東京市裡最繁華、忙碌的城市。這就是我想表達的東西,為了迎個社會,人們成為了齒輪,瘋狂地過著日常的生活。我的相片混合了兩種重要的元素:城市裡的社會和人,這就是我在街道裡拍攝的原因。」

凝住那稍縱即逝的瞬間,原來生活裡總是充滿了奇妙的事情。「這張相片是我正在等待交通燈轉換時拍下的。當時,一位穿黃色裙子和白色高跟鞋的女士吸引了我的目光,忽然地看到黃色的鋪路板少了一塊,然後心裡想原來就在她的裙子上!這畫面只存在於一剎那,然後交通燈在下一刻亮起綠燈。」這奇妙的瞬間不禁讓人會心微笑,想像置身其中的喜悅和驚奇。「我認為捕捉這些不平凡的𣊬間是很重要的,它能夠吸引觀眾進入攝影這媒體裡。可是,我曾經到過美國和其他亞洲城市旅遊,聽當地的人說一些日常生活的事情,這使我能夠以民族認同的身份來鳥瞰他們的日常生活。讓我對『恆常/不變的元素』產生了非常尊敬的心,相比起追求『讓人著迷的𣊬間』更為重要。」

作為一個街頭攝影師,野口晉尋找靈感的方法是和人們聊天,包括家人、朋友,甚至是街上遇到的陌生人。「《Something Here》是我最喜歡的系列。人們拼命地活著,有時候很寂寞,有時候互相幫助;有時候哭,有時候笑。我之所以能夠捕捉到人們的日常生活,是因為他們自己沒有意識到這些時刻相比起查理卓別靈、希治閣和費里尼等精心編排的電影或是莎士比亞的戲劇來得更美麗和富人情味。」野口晉曾被邀請參加成為「People Sleeping in the World」的客席策展人,為期一周,照片是在他的《In Other World》系列中挑選出來的。照片中那些在電車裡、街道裡沉沉睡去的人,每個人也必定能從中找到自己的影子。「《In Other World》這名字的靈感是來自一首著名的爵士樂曲《Fly Me to the Moon》。我想把『我們體驗時間的速度取決於各自的價值觀』這概念表現出來,透過一個以驚人速度前進的現代社會,人們能在各自建築的夢想裡,自由地、不受束縛地旅行。」野口晉的照片像一個窗口,我們仿彿能透過這窗口看到世界裡的荒誕、溫馨和真情流露的時時刻刻,並想像或許下一秒我們也會遇上這樣奇妙的瞬間呢。

In his work, Being Humorous, Yu Guangzhong comments that “humor is the antidote to absurdity.” To me, Yu’s comment perfectly describes the interesting, heartwarming, and sometimes romantic work by the Japanese photographer Shin Noguchi. “I want to visualize the famous quote from Mark Twain which says, ‘truth is stranger than fiction.’ I also wish to prove that this saying can be true even in the form of visual language: the various possibilities deriving from children’s imagination and hope for the future, adults being forced to be a part of the society but still manage to show some sort of personal strength. The world is tough sometimes, but also interesting at times. Images capture how people survive in this world.” As a photographer who has an exceptional fondness for street photography, Noguchi believes that the street is frequented by “unusual moments.” With a camera in hand, he’d spend time seeking out these bizarre and unusual moments. The images captured are the candid yet humorous reflection of reality. “I listen to our society. Our everyday life is filled with feelings and emotions which are all-natural parts of humanity. Sometimes we feel sad and sometimes we feel frustrated being in unreasonable situations. While the subjects show me the meaning and value of life, I, in return, take pictures to affirm their existence — the existence of karma.” Noguchi said that photography offers him the opportunity to affirm and also accept his own existence. Through the lens, he observes other’s lives, and at the same time inspects his own. Even though the images he captures are not always perfect, he treasures each and every bizarre yet beautiful encounter preciously. 

Noguchi’s latest book, In Color in Japan, features more than a hundred photos that offer readers a very different view of Japan. “When I received the invitation from Eyeshot Publisher asking me to be a contributor to their photography monograph series, I told the publisher I want to use only the full-color pictures I took in Japan. It is because I wanted to show the readers the reality and that whatever I captured could also be the reality that they might encounter someday.” Street photographers spend a lot of time on the street with a camera in hand. On top of having a pair of eagle eyes and the ability to press the shutter with determination, they also need a lot of luck. “For this project, I attempted to show the other side of Japan through the unusual objects that people carry when they are out and about. Yet, finding such a subject that can really grab the viewers’ attention is easier said than done. Just when I was thinking about how I could make this series more meaningful, I ran into this woman in Ginza, the busiest and most bustling city in Tokyo. I supposed this woman is a mother of two because she was holding a pair of twins in matching outfits. One kid in each arm. It was at that moment that I realized ‘this is what I want to express’ — to keep society moving, people live their life like a mechanical gear that rotates frantically in the system. This is also why I photograph in the streets. Because I can take pictures of the society as well as the people living in it. They are the two most important elements in my photography. 

It’s amazing how Noguchi can find magic and wonder in fleeting moments. “This photo was taken while I was waiting for the traffic light to change. I saw a lady in a yellow skirt and white high heels, and suddenly I noticed that a piece of the yellow paving slab was missing from the ground. I thought to myself, ‘She has the paving slab on her skirt!’ That was a magical moment that fleeted away as the traffic light turned green.” Moments like this are joyful and heartwarming. “I think it’s very important to be able to capture these extraordinary moments because the pictures produced can draw people into the world of photography. I have traveled to the United States and other Asian cities, and I took time to listen to the locals telling me stories of their daily life. Through their stories, I managed to find a way to identify myself with my own country, and I also realized that sometimes the constant and unchanging elements in life are more important than those fascinating fleeting moments.”

As a street photographer, Noguchi finds inspiration by chatting with people, including family, friends, and even strangers on the street. “Something Here is my most favorite series. People try so hard to live a life. Sometimes they feel lonely. Sometimes they help each other. They cry sometimes, and laugh sometimes. The reason why I choose to capture the daily life of people is because these ordinary moments are way more meaningful and heartwarming than the well-arranged scenes in Shakespeare’s plays or in Charlie Chaplin’s, Hitchcock’s and Fellini’s movies.” Noguchi was a guest curator for People Sleeping in World, and he also selected several works from his In Other World series to be presented in the project. Images of people falling asleep on the train or in the street are something that people feel familiar with. “I named my series, In Other World, after the famous jazz piece, Fly Me to the Moon. I want people to know that the speed of time is respective to our personal values and insight. In this fast-moving society, people can roam freely in their dreams.” Noguchi’s work provides us with a window to look at this absurd and bizarre world, and also allow us to imagine that maybe someday we can also encounter magical moments like that.