⟨ Craft ⟩

The use of uselessness

Nishimoto Ryota

Words / Elva Pang
Translation / Iris Heung

西本良太的作品總是滲透著一份平和感,沒有艷麗的色彩和誇張的造型,相反地,平實又不起眼,放在家中的一角也會忘記它的存在。「當我觀察熟悉的東西時,便會想:『如果用木材來製作會是怎樣呢?』」西本良太說。不經意地看了一眼,腦海中浮現「是布甸吧?」,細心觀看才發現是木材做的,推翻了對物件原有的認知。這是被製作者戲弄還是被我們的經驗誤導了?

The artworks of Nishimoto always exude a sense of tranquility. Never expect lots of colors or flashy shapes. His designs are extraordinarily simple, sometimes even so dull that they can be easily overlooked if you place them at home. “When looking at familiar objects, I would try to imagine how would they look if they were made of wood,” said Nishimoto. You would get so confused when realizing this thing that has the appearance of crème caramel was actually made of wood. Are we tricked by the artist, or are we misled by our preconceptions?

西本良太曾從事大型傢具的生產工作,讓他學懂機器運作和生產技巧。「通過每天的工作,我學到更多生產知識與技巧,使我的創作慾望也跟隨著不斷地滋張。」西本良太說。這創作的慾望好像運動員想要拔足奔跑一樣,讓他跑到了藝術創作的道路上。「我沒有什麼特別的技能呢,我做到的,任何木工都能做到。我不想把工藝放在作品的前面,我希望別人看到我的作品時,忘了技巧的存在。」不賣弄工藝、不追求完美無瑕,西本良太透過改變物件的形狀、顏色、大小和紋理等,打破我們對尋常物品的認知。「我對模仿細節和追求完美的像真度,一點興趣也沒有,製作出一模一樣的東西真的很沒趣呢。」

The experience of working at the production line of a mass-produced furniture manufacturer taught Nishimoto the necessary skills of operating machines and manufacturing knowledge. “My daily tasks gave me a chance to learn the knowledge and techniques of production. This also gave me an increasing urge to design something for myself,” said Nishimoto. He said the urge was similar to the desire of an athlete to run on the field, and he simply let the desire to bring him to the path of art. “I don’t have any special skills; any carpenter can do what I am doing. I don’t want to over-focus on craftsmanship. I wish people can forget about the concept of skills when they look at my artworks.” The desire to attain fine craftsmanship and perfection is replaced by the curiosity of challenging people’s preconceptions by altering the shape, color, size, and patterns of the familiar objects. “I am not at all interested in mimicking the details or making things that look almost real. It is so boring to reproduce simply the appearance of objects.” 

 

「只要用心的創作,即使是最平凡的東西也會變得吸引。」——西本良太

西本良太曾以「400g」為題,製作不同形狀、同時能盛載400克水的透明膠瓶,作品擺脫了容器刻板的形象,變得詩意盎然起來。「尋找想要表達的重點和省略的部分,令製作過程變得更有趣,也推動我一直地創作下去。」在不斷地觀看和使用下,我們的經驗漸漸累積成固定的看法,難以保持距離地觀看熟悉的事物。「日常用品對我的創作十分重要,使我經常思考物件在功能以外是什麼樣子。有些物件看來無法『使用』,還是我們沒注意到它另一面?透過作品能表達我們陌生的觀點。」西本良太常常提醒自己要更小心翼翼地觀看事物,在製作時他卻故意地把作品留在「未完成」的狀態。「木製品通常都打磨得很光滑、沒有半點劃痕。但是,我會提醒自己不要打磨得太乾淨,把它們停留在粗糙的位置,不做過多的功夫。可是,判斷在哪一刻完成,永遠都是一個難題。」

“If you could devote yourself to the creation process, the result can always be charming even when the design is simple,” said Nishimoto Ryota.

400g is a project where Nishimoto Ryota made many transparent plastic containers of different shapes but a consistent volume of 400g. Through this project, he attempted to explore the many fascinating possibilities of containers, which are usually given a dull appearance. “I would focus on my primary idea and neglect the parts that don’t interest me; this makes the production process more enjoyable and drives me to persist on creating.”  Our constant observation and usage accumulate to become a fixed conception, which blocks us from seeing the familiar objects with a new perspective, “Everyday objects are essential to my creative process. They inspire me to wonder how would they look if we take away their functions. Some of the objects appear unusable, is it because of our inability to see other faces of it? Through art, I would like to portray them from an unexplored angle.” Nishimoto insists on seeing things to their minute details, but rather contradictorily, he prefers to leave his works unfinished. “Woodworks are often sanded smooth until no scratch marks are to be seen, but I always remind myself not to make it too perfect. I would leave them at a rough state and never spend unnecessary effort on my art piece. However, it is always a tough question to decide when is the work done.”

城市人常以「有用」為先的標準看事物,西本良太卻一直在窺探功能以外的可能性,因為他看見了「無用」的價值。基本的材料、簡單的線條,擺脫工藝的光環,平凡的物件也有令人注目的靈魂。

City dwellers often judge an object based on its usability. What Nishimoto delves into is, however, any potential that is unrelated to usability. This is because he can see the use of uselessness. The things he creates are in simple-shape and made of easily accessible materials. They are not to be valued for their craftsmanship, underneath these ordinary-looking objects are charisma awaiting to be discovered.

Now available on ununliving