My Path of Creating 1st Artist book "Renjishi" — #7 Traffic Control
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My Path of Creating 1st Artist book “Renjishi” — #1 A Picture with Wormholes
My Path of Creating 1st Artist book “Renjishi” — #2 What is the “Right” Way of Taking Pictures?
My Path of Creating 1st Artist book “Renjishi” — #3 To the Radio Sounds
My Path of Creating 1st Artist book “Renjishi” — #4 Like a Boiled Crab
My Path of Creating 1st Artist book "Renjishi" — #5 What is your language?
My Path of Creating 1st Artist book "Renjishi" — #6 Hollands Licht
"Why did you decide to make this bookbinding?"
The woman who got my book at the exhibition venue at Unseen Amsterdam asked me the question seriously, stroking the book cover with embroidery on crepe fabric.
The hardcover is left bound.
But, once opened the book, the pages inside are bound on the right side.
Although I tried, I could hardly explain the reason in English smoothly, as if information stuck in a traffic jam on my throat. Oh, my.
Actually, it's complicated to explain this even in my native language, Japanese, because it requires understanding some premises to start. Moreover, it needs to translate this into English. In my brain, an imaginary situation comes to mind that a police officer is standing at the intersection of three lanes of road struggling to guide with a hand signal.
Beep-beep! Go ahead with that information!
Beep-beep! It's not yet! Think of a word while waiting for your turn!
I got even more distracted by the English and Dutch conversations heard from behind me.
"I'm sorry for my confusion."
"There are two main reasons. I will do my best to explain in order, so please be patient to listen to me."
With a smile as best I could, I tried to stay calm and started explaining as simply as possible.
"An elevator pitch," which is to train presentation skills to introduce yourself effectively to people who meet the first time in the duration of a short elevator ride. To do the best when a great chance comes.
I'm feeling this difficulty in multiple situations, such as when I exhibit my works abroad, sell, and demonstrate myself as a professional, even when I write this essay.
This is a story about my path of creating my first artist book "Renjishi" with an eight-part series.
The dance performance "Renjishi," which is the basis of my book, is the legend has its origin that on the Chinese mountain, lions pierced cubs to the bottom of the valley and watched them climb back up the cliff. After the tale was introduced to Japan, it was transformed into the unique culture of Noh, Kabuki, and other Japanese traditional dances, and they have been performed to this day.
In fact, the thread binding style "yotsume toji (four-hole bookbinding)," which is so-called "watoji (Japanese bookbinding)," was initially introduced from China. Their method shifted the one to glue spines to hold the book together afterward on China's bookbinding history. Although the major shift was the same in Japan, in the meantime, Japan's original technique has been newly created, which is a different kind of thread binding style with no glue use called "retchoso / tetchoso."
Introduced the legend has its origin, and transformed it into the unique culture of Japanese dance. Introduced the bookbinding technique, and transformed it into a unique method of binding. I found the common point and used it for my creation. That is my first answer.
Second, as a method of presentation.
Retchoso is bound on the cover's right side, so reading the pages would be turned from right to left. However, the majority of books distributed abroad are bound on the left side. So, I found the risk that the simple retchoso binding style could be recognized on the front cover to the wrong side and might be read backward. I think this situation is unhappy for the readers.
Therefore, I combined two techniques on purpose. For the hardcover, I used the swiss binding method on the left side that is common abroad. Then, I used the retchoso sewn style inside of the pages. By doing this, I designed the book to function as follows.
1. To open the book from the left side for sure (There is no choice but this).
2. Pages inside are bound on the right side with the cover, so the story goes right to the left.
Well, still, it's not impossible to force open the cover oppositely and read backward.
In this story, white represents a father lion, and red represents a cub.
Turn the cover, and a father lion gazes at the story that goes on.
When I talked about my book of "the main character is a Japanese dancer," people who met abroad tend to respond that "since it's a Japanese story, why don't you introduce this in Japan?" and people in Japan often say, "it will be well-received abroad."
But you know what? I think it's not true.
I like French movies and read books by Paul Auster. In my university days, I was a radio personality, writing newspaper articles, and a rock musician. Whatever the means of communication or genre used, I think the essence you put in goes beyond the difference in countries and cultural backgrounds.
As things stand now, Japan's image inside and outside is still tied by stereotypes, such as geisha, kimono, and the pride of its culture, sometimes for their commercial benefit, without thinking carefully.
I expect small clues in the performance (my book) to tell the essence quietly until the very end.
"The main character is a Japanese dancer, but this is a story of love that is common to me and you."
(Translated by Harumi Masugo)