⟨ Art ⟩

The Landscape of Books

Tokuko Ushioda

Words / Ron Lam
Translation / Iris Heung

跟自不同年代遠度重洋而來的書偶遇,總教潮田登久子感到不可思議。於某年的歐洲旅行中,在教堂之內,她偶遇安然靜坐在祭壇上的聖經,聖經莊嚴的模樣,彷如國王般令人肅穆。它為多少人作過禱告?繪在羊皮紙上紅色的五線譜,以及在譜上跳躍的音符,它唱出了多少人對生命的疑惑與期許?沿自室町時代,已然泛黃脆弱的經文,身上滿了如星宿船的細孔,當人們頌經以求內心平安時,蟲子是否忙著應附肉身、填飽空腹?

書本是各種抽象意念的載體,但在抽去結結實實的內容後,卻也不是空泛的。以紙張,甚至各種物料如木片、羊皮、繩子集結而成的書,在經年累後過後,總展示出充滿睿智而優美的姿態。攝影師潮田登久子,花了逾20年的時間,創作的系列Bibliotheca,便是希望將書作為物件的美感,細緻地收在照片之內。

江戶時代的帳簿、14世紀時於祈禱時使用的書、小學裡的老舊辭典;個人住宅的書架、修復舊書的工房……書內記載著故事,而在她的鏡頭下,書本身、書所在的風景,都滿載劇情。

Tokuko Ushioda always finds the unexpected encounters with books far from overseas an amazing experience. When visiting a church during her Europe trip, she saw a copy of the Bible quietly lying on the altar. The sacredness of the Bible resembled that of a king on his solemn throne. How many people have prayed with their hands on this Bible? Looking at the sheet music printed on the parchment and its notes, she wondered if this could be the music of the prayers’ frustration and hope. The scripture from the Muromachi period has gone yellowish and brittle; the paper is dotted with tiny holes like a starry sky. When people are humming the scripture, are the paper eating bugs busy filling up their stomach?

While books are the container of all abstract ideas, the content is not the only component of a book. Various materials used in making a book including paper, wood, parchment and thread will grow old and exude an elegant charisma of wisdom. The photographer Tokuko Ushioda has spent over 20 years on her Bibliotheca series that is an archive dedicated to the aesthetics of books.

An account book from the Edo period, a prayer book from the 14th century, an old dictionary from a primary school, books from the shelf of someone’s home, the restored antique book from a workshop… These printed materials all carry their very own story. Through her lens, the books are invited to narrate their own enchanting lives as a book, as well as all the moments of history that they have seen.