⟨ Curiosities ⟩

The Accidentally Formed Beauty

The Squashed Plastic Toys

Text and Photography / Ron Lam
Translation / Iris Heung

金工藝家金森正起的房間如同Cabinet of curiosities,十多平方米的空間,四面牆與地上都堆滿了書及他自日本各地搜來的「珍品」,餘下的空間,只剛好夠他舖上被舖。他不少藏品都教人摸不著頭腦——昭和時代火車便當用來盛湯汁的即棄陶壼、自建築工地撿來上的水泥塊、壓偏了的塑膠娃娃、用紙條編成的小孩衣服……43歲的他,常被說像個大孩子,眼睛骨碌骨碌,任何事物在他看來都新奇有趣。從今個月開始,我們請他每個月分享他一件藏品,同時探看這些摸不著頭腦的怪東西,如何化作養分,成就他看似冷靜卻滿載童趣的創作風格。

Entering the room of the metal artist Masaki Kanamori was like entering a cabinet of curiosities. The less than 20 square meters room was lined with walls of books and collectables he obtained from all around Japan. Since the shelves were not enough to contain his massive collections, some of them were piled up on the floor, leaving only enough space to unfold his futon. As an outsider, it could be rather difficult to understand the “value” of his collectables. For instance, the collection includes a Showa-period disposable clay jar that used to be placed inside of the train bento box to contain sauce, a concrete brick he picked from a construction site, a deformed plastic doll, a piece of children garment made from paper, etc. Many would call Kanamori a kidult; at the age of 43, he can still see things from a child perspective and discover their fascinating aspects. From this month on, we will have Kanamori to introduce to us one of his collections every month. Through his sharing, we will get to know how these weird things that no one understands can become the inspiration to his subtle yet whimsically creative style of art.

R: Ron Lam,M: Masaki Kanamori

R:那天我們在一家古物店,你拿起一個被壓偏了,臉容扭曲的狗玩具嘖嘖稱奇。然後,早陣子,又將這把霉霉舊舊的槍形玩具收為已有。為甚麼這些面目全非的塑膠玩具,如此吸引你?
M:可能是因為難得一見吧。材質因為劣化而難以辨認了,質感非常有趣。你不覺得它們好像是雕塑品嗎?即使放在現代美術館,也不會突兀。

R:若它們真的出自某位現代藝術家之手,而非舊物,會同樣地感動你嗎?
M:應該也會感動吧,但性質有點不同。例如Umeko Katou的作品(註:Umeko Katou是以紙為媒介的藝術家,親自造紙,並在上面作畫,作品難以介定為平面作品或是紙雕),她很成功地去除了自己過於精湛的作畫技術,作品看來非常單純,有種拙劣的美感。若這槍形玩具,真的是出自現代藝術家之手,該藝術家的創作姿態,可能跟Umeko Katou相近。不過,怎樣說呢?這塑膠玩具之所以吸引我,該是它偶然而成的美感吧。

R:說起來,它跟那扭曲的狗玩具,都是被丟棄的東西吧?
M:很大可能呢。

R: When we were in a vintage shop the other day, you were fascinated by a squashed dog toy with a face that was completely deformed. Later on, you also bought all these dusty old gun-shaped toys. Why are you so attracted to the disfigured plastic toys?
M: Because they are rare, perhaps. The material becomes unrecognizable because of degradation. The new texture is absolutely intriguing. Don’t you think they appear like sculptures? I think they would not look awkward even in a contemporary art museum.

R: Would you be equally impressed if they were not second-hand items but made by some contemporary artists?
M: I guess I would still be impressed, however, in a different way. Umeko Katou* is a good example. She successfully eliminates her talented drawing skills to make some pure and straightforward drawings. Her art has a sense of clumsy aesthetics. If this gun-shaped toy was made by a contemporary artist, I believe the artist must have a creative style similar to Umeko Katou’s. I’m not sure how to explain, but I was captivated by the plastic toy because of its unexpected beauty.

R: This toy and the plastic dog were probably both abandoned by their owners?
M: There is a high chance.

R:可能在原來主人那處,也沒被好好珍惜吧,才會變成這模樣。
M:也不一定呢。它的變形,看來是日照及溫度做成的。無論如何,它們看來如此有趣,都是偶然形成的。

R:塑膠在傳統的古董或古道具店,大概不被認可吧。
M:是的。塑膠本來就是很近代的物料,不被認定是古物也很正常。古董店的人,不會認同它們的價值吧。

R:近年來,在日本一些古物店裡,也能找到這些破爛的塑膠製品了。究竟是甚麼驅使人們集體愛上這些近如垃圾的東西呢?
M:這「集體」的人數,應該還很少吧(笑。究竟是為甚麼呢?我也一直在思考這問題。我想應該原來就有一些年青人喜歡這類東西,日本有一詞叫「貧乏趣味」(中譯:貧窮興趣),意指一些不太花錢的興趣,又或是喜歡看來很「貧窮」的東西,而近來多了年青人開古物店了,於是他們的「貧乏趣味」,便得以展現出來了。

R: Looking at the condition, perhaps the former owners didn’t care so much about them.
M: Perhaps. It was probably sunshine and humidity that have caused their deformation. In any case, they obtained these amusing appearances by chance.

R: The typical vintage and antique shop would probably refuse to take plastic objects?
M: True. Plastic is a contemporary material, it makes a lot of sense that it is not considered antique. Antique shop owners would not recognize their value and worth.

R: In recent years, I start to see plastic products in some second-hand shops in Japan. What has driven people to appreciate these trash-like items?
M: I guess the group of people you’re referring to is relatively small. But what is the reason? I’ve been thinking about this question myself as well. I assume there is always a group of young people who are into this kind of things. In the Japanese language, there is a concept called 貧乏趣味. It means having an interest that doesn’t cost much or to be interested in things that look cheap. In recent years, there are more young people opening their own second-hand shops, which have provided space to realize their so-called “cheap interest”.

R:說起來,你也常在街上亂撿東西呢。房間的櫃子上,便放著一塊自建築工地拾來的水泥塊。還有甚麼呢?
M:像生鏽的東西、奇形怪狀的木條之類。於鄉郊的地方較易遇到,但我想即使在城市裡,只要散步時多用心,或許也能找到吧。

R:有沒有哪件拾來的東西,讓你感到「想造出類似的物品」呢?
M:嗯⋯⋯它們的外型多是偶然形成的,形狀及氣質,都是我無法憑空想像出來的,但我倒沒想過要摹臨呢,倒是希望能做出具有同樣意想不到的魅力的東西。

R: Now you talked about it, I remember you also have a habit of picking up random things from the streets. On your shelf there is a concrete block that you picked up from a construction site, do you have other examples?
M: For example some rusty things and wooden sticks with an unusual shape. It is easier to discover them when living in the countryside, but I think they can be found in the city if you pay enough attention when taking a stroll.

R: Have you ever picked up something that gave you an urge to reproduce it yourself?
M: Hmm… they all have randomly formed appearance, shape, and charisma, which are beyond my imagination. Although I have never intended to replicate these items, I really hope to create objects that carry unexpected charm as they do.

*Umeko Katou is a paper artist who makes her own paper on which she draws her works. It is difficult to define whether her works are graphic design or paper sculpture.

*

金森正起 Masaki Kanamori
1975. 出生,兒時居於山上由父親建造的家中。
Born and spent his childhood in a mountain house built by his father.
1981. 小學時期,搬到名古屋郊外。不時於日出時,獨自到湖邊釣魚,親自用鋼湯匙造魚餌。得到一把木手柄的折刀,嫌棄其光滑的木面,用砂紙將它磨舊,覺得偶爾被油沾污的刀柄好美。
Moved to Nagoya suburb and studied primary school there. He used to go pond fishing at dawn. He would make baits with a metal spoon. In the same year, Kanamori received a pocket knife with a wooden handle. Not satisfied with the smoothness of the wooden handle, he gave it a rough look using sandpaper. He sometimes found the handle of the knife beautiful when it was covered with grease.
1987. 在山中發現疑是防空洞的洞穴,邀朋友拿著火把前往探險。
Discovered a cave that could be an air raid shelter. He lit a torch and explored the cave with his friends.
1992. 迷上滑雪板,大學時常驅車往雪山,白天滑雪,晚上路宿車上。畢業後給自己一年時間,獨自往日本東北居住,專心滑雪。
Fascinated by snowboarding while studying at university. Kanamori often drove to the snowy mountains where he did snowboarding during the day and slept in the car at night. Upon graduation, he spent a year to live in northeastern Japan alone to pursue snowboarding.
1998. 開始訪尋岐阜造農家道具的鍛造,並與鐵工藝相遇。
Visited various forging workshops in Gifu Prefecture that specialized in making farming tools, Kanamori got to understand the art of metal making.
2001. 成為鐵工藝家松岡信夫的弟子。開墾了自己細小的農田,並且開始於表參道擺地攤,賣自己手作的首飾。
Became an apprentice of the metal artist Nobuo Matsuoka. Kanamori began growing in his small piece of farmland, he also started selling his handmade accessories along Omotesandō.
2004. 為了探索自己想造的東西而自立。由於一直嚮往農村生活,故往岐阜縣恵那市,加入森林公園,當了一年植林工人。其後取得古董商的牌照。
Began to work on his own to better explore his personal style. Moved to the city of Ena in Gifu Prefecture. Driven by his passion for rural life, he spent one year working as a planter in the national park of the city. Kanamori later obtained an antique dealer’s license.
2006. 於名古屋郊外建立了自己的工房。開始於日本全國藝廊,如Gallery Yamahon、百草、Gallery Nao Masaki等舉辦個展。
Set up his private workshop in rural Nagoya. Kanamori began to have solo exhibitions in Gallery Yamahon, Galerie Momogusa, Gallery Nao Masaki and other venues.
2014. 購入小學時常去探險的森林及廢墟,打算親自改裝成居所。
Purchased the woodland and deserted land where he frequently visited as a primary school child. Kanamori planned to convert the land into his residence.
2017. 結婚。
Married.