⟨ Curiosities ⟩

Signals from the material

Paper crocheted bags

Words and Photography / Ron Lam
Translation / Iris Heung

R:林琪香 Ron Lam / M:金森正起
 Masaki Kanamori

R:這個是甚麼呢?是紙條編成的嗎?
M:這是紙縒,是以和紙搓成的紙條編製而成的東西。

R:是日本的工藝品嗎?
M:這個應該是來自日本的,但我第一次真正注意到的紙縒則是來自韓國李朝的。以往去韓國旅行,或在日本國內售賣韓國古物的店舖中,都會特意尋找。那些紙縒大都是一些日常用品,為了使其堅固耐用,通常都編得緊密,表面塗上漆,而我最喜歡當中一些素白的器物。它們形態柔美,看來沒有作任何塗裝,這點我不太肯定,但紙材的質感很質樸,故我如此猜想。這些李朝的紙縒,跟這個袋子的處理方法是完全不同的。我現在仍很喜歡李朝時代造工仔細的紙縒,不過相比之下,更喜歡這種粗糙的。

R:它的頂部沒有封口呢,是未完成品嗎?
M:不太肯定呢,也可能已經完成了,只是開口處損壞了而已。

R:之於你,它的魅力是甚麼呢?
M:我本來就很喜歡紙這素材的了,另外,我想它流露出來的脆弱的氣質吧。

R:雖然你的作品的素材以金屬為主,然而卻對紙、陶土、布等素材情有獨鍾,而且常聽到你說,希望作品呈現出「布料」、「紙品」等的氣氛,對此,我一直都感到很有趣。金屬予人的感覺是冰冷的,而布及紙則是柔軟而溫暖的,兩者有很大的差別。
M:是呢,我對自己的金屬作品的要求,其中一項就是希望看來是柔軟而溫暖的,這跟其他現代金工藝家,強調金屬的剛勁、利落有很大的差異吧。每一種素材都有其「発信力」(拼音:Hassinryoku),亦即是傳達信息的能力,我不知道用在這裡對不對,只是我自己的感覺而已。

R:素材的傳訊能力嗎?比方說呢?
M:例如實心的材料,正如實木與合成木板傳達出來的訊息就很不一樣,金屬也同樣,用實心鐵材造成的手把,跟金屬管造成的手把,即使形狀相同,訊息也截然不同。泥土、布料、紙張,不同狀態之下,都流露出不同的訊息。在處在同一個空間裡,各種的訊息需要取得平衡,哪個訊息特別響亮的話,便會顯得格格不入了。在跟建築師合作,替建築物造鐵閘、信箱等時,我尤其重視訊息的平衡,多了解建築物的設計、使用的材料、建築物所在的環境等,才決定使用甚麼物料,做怎樣的設計。

R: What is this? Is this crocheted out of paper strips?
M: This is called Koyori. It is crocheted with twisted strings of traditional Japanese paper washi.

R: Is this traditional craft originally from Japan?
M: I believe it is from Japan, but the first Koyori I got to know was from the Joseon dynasty of Korea. I would always spare time looking for this kind of paper when traveling to Korea; I would also visit shops in Japan that are specialized in Korean antiques. This kind of papercraft is usually made for practical use. The paper strips are crocheted tightly together before being coated with lacquer to enhance durability. My favorite is the pure white ones that appear so soft as if they weren’t lacquered. This is just my guess seeing how subtle the textures appear to be. I’m still fond of those Koyori from the Joseon dynasty for their delicacy, but in comparison, I prefer the coarse quality of the roughly made ones.

R: Its top doesn’t look completed yet. Is it an unfinished piece of work?
M: I’m not quite sure. It could be finished already but only got its opening damaged.

R: What is the charisma of this craft to you?
M: I’ve always been drawn to paper as a medium. I guess I wanted to express the fragile quality of this material.

R: Although the media of your works have been mainly dominated by metal, you seem to have a particular fondness for materials like paper, ceramic, and fabric. It is quite often to hear how you want to exhibit the vibe of these materials. I am always intrigued by this idea. Metal exudes a cold luster, whereas fabric and paper appear gentle and mellow. There is a huge contrast between them.
M: That’s right. One of the aims of my metalwork is to show the tender and warm side of the material. This is a far cry from how other modern metal artists try to express the boldness of it. Each of every material has its power to communicate. I am not sure if this is a good way to put it, but this is how I feel.

R: Could you elaborate on this “power to communicate”?
M: For instance, the messages conveyed by solid and synthetic wood planks are very different. The same goes for metal. Even a handle made of solid iron holds the same shape as one made of a metal pipe, the messages they give are absolutely different. Soil, fabric, paper, everything can convey a different message at a different state. Within the same space, all types of information need to strike a balance. If one material speaks too much volume, it would appear out of place. When I work with architects and customize parts like metal gates and letterboxes, I really stress on such balance of different messages. I have to understand the design of the building, its materials, the overall environment, before determining what materials and design I should go for.

R:這個觀點很有趣呢。
M:嗯。物料有其獨特的訊息,創作時,我傾向把它們質樸地展現出來,例如鏽鐵雕塑的話,會只以油或是蜜蠟等透明物料作塗裝,停住其氧化的過程便好了,甚少塗上漆油。若是器皿的話,因為希望客人能更安心使用,則會上漆,但仍盡力不去影響素材本來的魅力。不管是鐵鏽、鋁金屬的白鏽、氧化了變黑的錫等,都儘量原原本本地表現出來。

R:這個想法有點「物派」呢。(物派:日本於1960年代未至1970年代初興起的藝術流派,主張不對素材作任何加工,以展現其原來的模樣,探索事物與世界、環境及空間的關係。韓籍藝術家李禹煥為代表人物之一。)
M:我沒有意識到這一點呢。

R:這個紙條編成的袋子,同時傳達著「紙張」及「布」的訊息呢。
M:可能因為是編織而成的,所以有一點布的訊息吧,但紙張的訊息較為強烈。你不覺得它跟布更為「柔軟」一點嗎?我不是指實際上的硬度,而是觀感上的。

R:你不是為9月中的個展,以金屬網造了一系列作品,嘗試將一直以來「讓金屬展現出如布及紙般的魅力」的想法表現出來。像這袋子般的作品,是否你的參考呢?
M:我想包括它在內,還有其他紙製及布製品的魅力,早已成為我思想的一部分了,自自然然就會朝向它們的特質走去。

R:我一直覺得「讓金屬展現出如布及紙般的魅力」這概念很抽象。直到那天,你給我看用金屬網造成的雕塑,我很吃驚,也說不出原因,但那被扭曲過、擠捏過的金屬網,真的如布般,雖然我明知道那是金屬來的。一看就知道是金屬,卻感覺到布的柔美。真的很奇妙。這樣想來,接收素材訊息的器官,該不是眼睛吧。
M:不只是眼睛吧,我想,應該是更直依靠覺性,更憑感覺的。

R: This is a very unusual perspective.
M: Well. Each material carries its own unique information, which I tend to showcase subtly during my creative process. For example, I would only use transparent material like oil or honey as the finishing material for rustic metal sculpture, to stop its oxidation. I rarely use paint in such case. For utensils, I would use Japanese lacquer as finishing to make sure they are safe to use. I still try my best to retain the original texture of the materials. No matter they are iron rust, aluminum oxide, or oxidized tin that appears black, I strive to show their authentic forms.

R: This approach is quite in line with Mono-ha. (Mono-ha was an art movement led by Japanese and Korean artists of late 20th-century. The Mono-ha artists explored the encounter between natural and industrial materials, such as stone, steel plates, glass by presenting them in mostly unaltered, ephemeral states. The Korean artist Lee Ufan is one of the representative figures.)
M: I wasn’t quite aware of it.

R: This bag crocheted with Koyori simultaneously convey the message of “paper” and “fabric”.
M: Perhaps the fact that the bag is made by crochet somewhat carries the message of “fabric”, I guess? But the message of “paper” is still more explicit. Don’t you think it is even more mellow than fabric? I don’t mean the physical qualities but the appearance.

R: Aren’t you trying to exemplify the charisma of fabric and paper through metalwork, an idea you’ve always had in mind, by using your new series of metalwork for your solo exhibition in September? Did you also use this bag as a reference?
M: I would like to include this as well. There is also the charisma of other paper and textile products, which has become an integral part of my idea. As a result, it will lead me to those specific features.

R: I used to find exemplifying the charisma of fabric and paper in metalwork a vague concept that was difficult to grasp. However, when you showed me the metal sculpture, I was stunned for an unspeakable reason. The twisted and pressed metal mesh looked so much like fabric. Of course, I was well aware of it being metal, but I could somehow feel the softness of fabric in it. It was truly amazing. Now when I come to think of it, perhaps it isn’t our eyes that are responsible for perceiving the materials.
M: Eyes are only part of it. I believe the perception is more dependent on intuition and sensation.