Bridging Dichotomies

Usual View


~ INTRO ~

A friend of a friend led to the interview opportunity with mixed media creative Taiko Fujimura. The following quote lays out what she works to express in her creations. “The concepts she explores include quietude, peacefulness, harmony, unity, and universality. Her work is strongly influenced by Japanese wabi-sabi, an aesthetic system she strongly believes to be “beautiful” art and Japanese calligraphy, which she has studied since age six.” Hmm, I just noticed, that like my previous interview, Taiko started studying Japanese calligraphy at the age of six. Maybe that’s the age when young Japanese women traditionally begin to learn this. Could the inclusion of the study of this medium in Japanese culture spark a sense of creative expression? I caught up with her at a group show at the Market Street Gallery during San Francisco’s city-wide month of open studios.

BACKGROUND

Moments Of Truth ~ Hello Taiko Fujimura, thank you for taking this time during your open gallery to sit down and tell us about yourself, creative process, and work. Could you please describe the medium you work in?

Taiko Fujimura ~ I use acrylic in my painting works. My passion though is sculpture. Unfortunately, because of space constraints I paint to be able to store the works easily. I do enjoy painting as it allows me a certain freedom to do a lot. If it’s a 3D image [sculpture] I need to think about spatial elements, math involved. Just a lot of thinking and preparing involved.

One sculpture project I really enjoyed entitled “Ikebana” I like conceptual art. Sculpture is a medium that realizes my conceptual way of thinking. (An excerpt of her description describes “This series is an experimental abstract three-dimensional form that asks the audience to define their personal aesthetic sensibilities. Similar to how the placement of each flower in a vase may evoke distinct aesthetic reactions about the entire arrangement, the abstract depictions of objects in these pieces are constructed using discrete mathematical and technical principles.” Some images of this project can be viewed here: Series_Ikebana

MOT ~ So given the opportunity, without space constraints, would you focus your energy on dealing with conceptual ideas in the 3D realm of sculpture? Continue reading

“Rage Your Dream”

Discovering individuals dedicated to any particular thing in the modern fast paced materialistic boarders of the United States is so rare I find it surprising. How does someone spend most of their time and energy focused on one thing, thus sacrificing time otherwise used to enjoy all the desired leisure activities: video games, television, viewing professional sports or going out to clubs? Austin Oseke, 28, is a publisher, comic book artist and to sum it up, describes himself as an entrepreneur. He revels in those challenging opportunities that a small business owner encounters. It is a constant state of adjustment with an overflowing closet full of hats. Examples of these roles range from dealing with all the elements of publishing, to artist, writer, creator, business development, marketing, and more. After deciding on, followed by actual achievement of specific goals, a foundation to continued success is laid. Ones confidence than builds, allowing a steadily broader vision to grow.

BACKGROUND

Moments Of Truth ~ What would describe your creative activities, either on your own, or as part of your business?

Austin Oseke ~ I use eigoMANGA as my vehicle for my creative energies. If I just wanted to create a comic book store, I would have done that. My desire was to develop a business in the entertainment segment. I love music, television, doing concerts, events, and try to bring these creative aspects slash initiatives into my business. I see my company as my opportunity to project that, and it’s very effective for me to do it that way.

MOT ~ Do you think the medium that you’ve used has changed over time, and do you expect it to continue too? Or go in any particular direction in the future? I know you used to have a lot more time to draw. . .

AO ~ If we’re talking about comics, the medium has changed definitely. It’s all about the Internet now. What’s funny about that is that I received recognition through Wizard magazine because of the Internet. I told them “we are in the digital age, and it’s a really great tool to publish your comics, get them out there, and tell your story without going through the conventional red-tape to get your comic out there.” It’s a great tool, I mean, to a certain extent, you can now even create comics on the Internet. It’s great, I like it a lot.

When it comes down to it, there is no replacement to just sitting down with a pencil or pen and just drawing. There’s no replacement for that. That’s where your energy, your passions just flow. Eventually, sure, when you want to touch it up and refine it for print you’d touch it up after Continue reading

A Blue Note: Sketched In The Raw

Blue Note: Sketched In The Raw

In the land of Daisuke Maki, everything around him could be a seed that may develop roots into a project. Working in the field of graphic design is for him the opportunity to “make things better both visually and functionally.” Unbeknownst to me, I’ve stumbled into his Lower Nob Hill apartment this Wednesday October 10th, on his birthday. Apparently, because it’s a weekday, he has kept it under wraps, planning to celebrate with friends over the weekend. Not wasting any time, we crack open a pair of ales and set to some question and answer as city life continues on the streets only a few stories below his opened window.

* BACKGROUND *

Moments of Truth ~ How would you describe the creative medium(s) you focus in?

Daisuke Maki ~ Graphic design. It starts from sketching with pens and paper. Then after making rough sketches, I’ll go on the computer and execute my idea. I used to be a fine artist before. . . or at least I wanted to be a fine artist before. After studying fine art for two years, I spent the majority of my life wanting to become a painter – since I was little even – until I met a guy in Japan who did graphic design. He showed me his stuff and it clicked, “oh shit, this can be my job!” I didn’t know how successful a focus on fine arts would be, so that’s the time I switched to graphic design.

DMD ~ IN ART WE TRUST

MOT ~ Would you like to get back to what might be considered “fine arts” work in the future?

DM ~ Yea, definitely. [In regards to what I do now,] graphic design is about having the subject first and our job is to make it better and more appreciable. Let’s say there’s a cell phone, there are so many cell phones around, and you want to make a better cell phone. That became an icon. Our job is to make things better both visually and functionally.

Graphic design is based on business more, always money related before you start doing the job. Also, you have to think about the target audience, budget, among other elements. It’s more challenging Continue reading

Brokering A Shutter

Specimen

Friday afternoon, before he has to take off for work, Mathew Scott took a moment away from watching his new born daughter to set us straight on what his photography is all about. We’re at his new apartment where he’s working on editing and uploading some photos from a shoot with Hiero Jeans for XXL magazine.

October 5th, 2007


^^ BACKGROUND ^^

Moments Of Truth ~ Please describe your primary creative endeavors?

Mathew Scott ~ (exhaling a stream of smoke) Take photos.

MOT ~ Has this changed over time?

MS ~ Well, I started out painting graffiti, and got into photography during high school.

MOT ~ Why do you prefer photography versus other mediums?

(He prepares to answer as the roar of jet planes booms through the sky. It’s ‘fleet week’ in San Francisco and those oh so patriotic fly-boys the ‘Blue Angels’ are practicing their routine.)

It’s kind of hard to conversate with the Blue Angels causing all this racquet.

MS ~ I hate these airplanes! Umm, what was the question?

Oh yeah, I like what’s real; take things that are out there and through the eye of my camera, even though it’s real I can still project what I want people to think what’s going on; it could be false or true. Everything interests me, I’ve tried a lot of mediums. That’s the whole point of being here. I chose this photo thing, that’s my path but I’m always going to have other things going on, maybe they’d be called hobbies; other creative outlets.

MOT ~ Where did you grow up?

MS ~ Portland, Oregon.

MOT ~ Do you have a memory when it struck you to get into photography?

MS ~ Well, when I knew I didn’t want to work for someone and knew I would do something for myself; and I knew it would be art related. After that, I mean I’ve always been taking pictures, and I just decided to look more into that Continue reading

Knarlly Rebar

After only being on the road for just a week, with a two man pup tent loaned by my dad, sleeping bag, and basic gear strapped via various bungees to the motorcycle, I am realizing it’s not quite as exotic as stories and films tend to make this kind of adventure out to be. Camping using only the regular spots, which it seems is what the park services want people to do, is not like what I remember as a kid. It probably doesn’t help that the majority of campsites seem to be situated for RV or giant camper ease of access. Spending the majority of the day on the road, trying to get to the next location with enough day light hours to pitch camp doesn’t leave much time for seeing all the awesome sights, sounds, and chatting with the people inbetween. Nor am i finding much time to just hunt down interesting folks willing to spend an hour right away to discuss what they do, and I wouldn’t expect too either.

After several nights sleep on the ground, my back, and brain feel like this mangled heap of rebar looks. There are other methods.

Trying to keep up on the posts is tough too. Each interview seems to take about a good days worth of work to have a fairly edited and organized post to present. This is meant to be professional quality, regardless of the format. So far, general word of mouth feed back has been good. I’m curious what others stopping by actually think. I’ve noticed some suggestions. Unfortunately they may be loftier then my capabilities at this time. If when making suggestions you could also explain how to accomplish this in these basic html slash motorcycle parameters, that’d be helpful.

This weeks focus is on transcribing three interviews. One conducted with filmagrapher Andrew Warnecke based in Portland, Oregon. The other two are with painters working out of Eugene. More to come on that later, so stay tuned.

Right now I’m in the Bay area aka San Francisco and planning on interviewing some great creative minds here. If you know somebody you can direct me to from SF to San Diego and or Mexico too, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Thanks.

Keep checking in. More will come up this week!

Catch the light

NYC Corner Stand

For my first interview I was able to sit down with a friend made during 2002 while living in San Francisco. He recently relocated to New York to take full advantage of the short remaining time on his visa. New York beckons as one of the most challenging locations in the United States and a point where the world, its cultures, industries and ideas merge to create new forms of human expression.

Joji Shimamoto grew up in Chiba, Japan, a place he compared to New Jersey because of its size and proximity to Tokyo. We sat down at the ‘Bar and Grill’ on 83rd and Amsterdam in Upper Manhattan for a few pitchers of Kirin to discuss his creative philosophy. He is what I would refer to as a hands on type of photographer. Attempting to do a lot more with the photo then just use the moment captured. He works to create new ways for the viewer to see into the moment, past, present, and future. Most recently delving into color, he believes his eye sight has now changed from his previous focus on black and white a greater confidence in what he captures in color. Not that being published means one photo or photographer is better than another, but it is sure to help build confidence. Joji has most recently had two photo’s of Venice Beach released in the Japanese publication ‘Tokion.’ Just the night before this interview he’d organized and promoted a roof-top party in Brooklyn. With full on DJ’s spinning and wall displaying his photography experiments with light boxes back lighting particular photos wrapped around the box he gathered the peoples reactions into feedback on his work.

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Background:

Joji Shimamoto catches the light. “I do photography, always catch the moment, but now as I’m making the light, maybe I’m thinking about more mixed media as my next form of shooting pictures and present some other style.”

Moments of Truth~ You develop your photos different too, using some interesting techniques like splashing and drips. How do you come up with those ideas?

JS~ Actually I began using those elements in High school, because the first time there I was in the darkroom with no teachers and had a kind of freedom to do anything. Tools were scarce, there was a brush so it was like I was drawing with the developer and maybe two or three years later, at the dark room in college I thought “I wanna do it [dark room development experiments done during high school] again.”

MOT~ Do you know why you gravitate toward photography versus other mediums like say painting, sculpting, music or design?

JS~ Because photography is like reality, it’s the only way I can show my life of reality, and, yea, I guess it’s like pure trueness to me captured through taking pictures. I think the most key thing is that when I was in high school, I had the key to the dark room and if I was bored with school so all the time, say well even night time you know or be up around dawn, I’d get done with whatever I was doing and go to the dark room and smoke cigarette, it was a safe spot to smoke cigarettes with the red light and they had a small CD player. I would bring my favorite CD and just listen to music, smoking cigarettes and printing all the time.

MOT~ And this was back in high school?
JS~ That’s right. Eight years ago, not that long.
MOT~ Still going strong, still love it?
JS~ Yea, but like I would change a little bit, like the presentation. The way to show the people my pictures, a little bit different. But like my main things is still the same, just taking my life, what I saw and sharing my view. Because now I’m spending time in New York City one Japanese kid set in. . . most Japanese people don’t get to spend time here, and I just want to show them what life is like over here, yea.

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MOT~ So where exactly did you grow up, what was it like? Your community, how would you describe your neighborhood?
JS~ It’s nothing. It’s like deserted, forty minutes train ride to Tokyo, and everyone is always going to Tokyo to have fun. When I was in junior high school I was hanging out with kids that were kind of considered gangsters. My parents worried about it, because I wouldn’t go home for like five days at a time, just hang out at my friend’s house.
MOT~ Do you think your environment and that situation influenced your views; how you approach the photography, capturing life around you?
JS~ Oh yea, sure, a little bit, because I think every kids always they like, I’m not sure how to best say it, but they want to be gangster or bad people, and I did too. So I just saw that and tried to be cool. No more though, it’s stupid [trying to be a bad person to be cool] but it’s like a version of having fun with the homies, you might get caught up in doing some bad stuff that’s my junior high school times. Around this same time is when I began skateboarding. Now it’s much more common to find someone skating in Japan, but when I started skating, skaters equaled bad boys [an activity that was initially looked down on by Japanese elders].

MOT~ Ah, okay, so is that why you started skating?
JS~ Nah, I remember the first time I saw skate, at some park in Tokyo, I mean I’d kind of skate even when I was six or five but I could only do this, [tapping his hands on the table as if he has a mini-skateboard in his fingers he motions just the most basic type of movement] I didn’t know how to ollie, and in junior high school when I saw an ollie for the first time I thought “what the fuck, jumping, oh so cool! I want to do that,” and I started. I was lucky, because in Japan skateboards are so expensive, like three times as much [as the US].
MOT~ What, like $300.
JS~ Yea, say for everything complete. Some three hundred something or more. But I got a deck from my friend’s cousin, we went to skate with him and I said “I want to go” and he let me use this deck, graffiti on it, but it didn’t last long. After about two weeks it had broke. Skating is one of the key points for my life because in skate you have so many people and so many things I can see from skating. So many things I’ve learned from skating, like attitude, how to talk to people, how to approach the world. Because skaters just do it man, doesn’t care about it, if some one says stop you’ll stop and move on, but they’re not going to go up and ask, never asking, just straight skate. That has been something I’d apply to my shooting. Now I do it a little different. But before I’d just walk up and be shooting, and if someone said “Stop!” then I’d stop. The same approach as skating. (finished with a soft chuckle)

MOT~ That’s just how you get down. Just do it! So what do you think inspires you the most to keep you motivated and energized to keep going?

JS~ Actually, I would say two or three things. One is like from my friends, my friends come out in a book, get their work published, having a good project and getting a lot of exposure or if I’m looking at magazines and say find Kento’s or Dustin’s picture accidentally I think “oh shit I want to like keep going.”
MOT~ So some healthy competition a little bit with your peers?
JS~ Yea, I might say that. If I see you doing good I want to push too. Another is from my old pictures. I could be going through old negatives and never printed this picture, but maybe three years later I see the picture and wonder “why didn’t I print this one?” And think, hmm “oh, I have some good pictures.” Motivation often comes from an event like yesterday, I threw the party and showed people my work and they might say “Wow, that’s great” and I believe I’m doing good. Yea, because I some times worry about it, “how am I doing” but once I have a good exhibition or show the people, I receive a lot of feedback and know to keep going. Just sharing with people.

MOT~ What’s another, do you think? Another reason for motivation, you describe the competition, exhibiting your pictures and getting feedback, vibing off of people…
JS~ And well, I would saaaaayyy, ummm “Love.” (said in a low voice with a soft embarrassed giggle)
MOT~ Love?
JS~ Yea, Love. Because I’ve learned recently if I like someone I will do more, because I want to show her my way show them. If I have a lover I can do much better.
MOT~ You think so?
JS~ Yes, but like a real one. Yea, yea (at this point a little nervous about this thread of the subject) hahahaha. But I think motivation is going to be about what somebody likes or other
I just want to share [with] most people.

MOT~ Do you think while you were learning photography, say in high school, did you have a mentor, or anybody that inspired you?
JS~ (shaking his head and digging deep) Actually my school mate, she’s Korean, she’s really into photography. We the main ones to use the dark room. Her stuff is more fashion, like taking people. At that time I took mostly cityscapes, cities with people.
MOT~ Did you learn anything from her?
JS~ Just like different approach. I think mostly just me, I think about it and it came out. My photography is one idea and theirs is theirs. They’re taking their life and I mine. It’s different, I can only capture my life.

"Please Watch Your Step!"

Techniques:
MOT~ So how did you learn about photography, the different equipment and processes? By reading books, talking to people…?
JS~ I just learn the basic, the very basic, how to print, develop the film, that’s it. Because in high school there wasn’t really a teacher. The teacher was a beginner too, learning it all for the first time too, we are learning together, no assignment just shoot shoot shoot and print print print. That’s how I came up with my style.

MOT~ What do you think about the difference between digital and film?
JS~ I don’t care actually. Like my ideas don’t matter if it’s film or digital, it’s about catching a good moment, a good picture is good. I’m not doing Photoshop stuff. I do like film though, because you have to wait to see it, sometimes there are surprises there. Digital is about grabbing a moment and sharing while film is developed in the dark room and seen by only me, and going “je je je.” So for fine art I like film, because I can do more.

MOT~ Before you go out shooting, do you have any exercises, or do you just have your camera with you all the time?
JS~ Generally I had my camera all the time, but this year it’s changing a little bit. Now I am making a once a week book, so I have to shoot it. Sunday is always a deadline…
MOT~ Is it a personal deadline?
JS~ Yes, a personal deadline for the personal book. Sometimes Sunday [comes around] and I don’t have enough pictures to make the book [forcing me] to go out and shoot it. Today I didn’t carry a camera because I wanted to take a rest. That’s why I’d like to have a small camera in my pocket, just in case. So many things are going on, and I want to shoot everything. Catch as much as I can. Like on the subway tonight I saw some kids. . .
(Then I rudely interrupt suggesting Joji take some pictures with my camera and we don’t get to finish that story)

MOT~ Are there any books or specific resources that help you?
JS~ A book by one of the best photographers in Japan, shoots everything, maybe every moment. Seeing his book inspired me, changed my photography a little bit.

MOT~ Do you think there’s a point when it’s too much?
JS~ No, I don’t think it’s ever too much. I think too much is good (in the background a siren blares, and you see his eyes light up at the prospect of a great photo op) I think art if you are happy, happy with it, with what you’re doing it’s not too much. If you are happy with what you’ve created, that’s art.

MOT~ How would you describe your process, from your idea to going out and finding things, finding moments, your flow from beginning to end?
JS~ (A long pause)
MOT~ Have you ever thought about it?
JS~ No, not really. Actually, I do have some time line. Shoot shoot, I would say while I am shooting pictures there’s something, because when I see the old pictures I can get back to the point. I don’t know how to explain, photography sometimes tells the future, and sometimes I can go back to a picture, and remember what followed and it was like those pictures predicted the future. I think that the process of developing the negative, well, so many processes in filming. I shoot it and put it inside in my brain, then print out the film, and look through all the negatives to choose the one to print. That’s the process. A really good moment is going to be remembered.

MOT~ Do you think a really good moment is emotional, an emotional connection or more a spiritual connection?
JS~ I would say spiritual connection with the moment. Sometimes it’s scary. One example, I got arrested recently right, before I got arrested I’d made a book using for the back cover using a picture of a kid posing near the police car, kind of making fun of the police. After getting out, a couple days later I was shooting and a the picture I took happens to look like a girl in jail. It’s spiritual. Anyway, I would say the process is a making of my lifeline, making my history.
Trying to capture the moment is also like capturing a parallel world. And the blurriness [helps represent] the difference from the reality, you know.

(At this point, the beer, lack of good sleep, or the back ground action is starting to takes its toll on me. I’m about to miss a pretty profound explanation of Joji’s work and philosophy. Luckily for me he takes the time to expand on this idea)

JS~ I like blurry pictures, the movement, it’s like drawing sometimes [with light] and I when I try to capture the moment also capture the modern world. Ten years later my pictures [taken now are] gonna be [like] I was in a parallel world, because I’m trying to shoot not normal stuff, it’s normal but different the variety of a drama moment. Not quite the answer to the question but, hmm, that’s what comes to mind, my life.

MOT~ How do you know when something’s done, or pick out that picture that you like?
JS~ It’s automatic, I just know.
MOT~ Well, how do you feel, what is it inside you telling you this? I mean well why is one better then another?
JS~ Ahh, it’s all good, (laughs)… I have no idea. I would say that they touch me, maybe it looks like a movie shot or something. It’s hard to describe.

At this point our conversation trails off into other matters for about ten minutes before this women wanting to buy a cigarette interrupts us. Actually, I think he made about $3 selling three cigarettes to different folks randomly asking if he’d sell them one. They followed through and paid up, I was surprised. He liked to point out that the brand was ‘Peace’. So it seems proper to end this with the stock phrase:

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“Peace, I’m out.”

For some great examples of his work, stop by his lower east side Manhattan show at Sunita bar 106 Norfolk St in New York near the Essex subway stop. And be sure to drop by his web site Jojiphoto.com or become his friend at myspace.com/jojiphoto.