Today I want to share with you an interview I did with a young Japanese artist called Shishi Yamazaki.
At first, I have been captured by one of her videos, YAN-NE-SEN a go go. I am into watercolours right now, so if you take a peek at the video, you immediately understand why I was so pleasingly entertained. In the video you see Shishi herself dancing through Yanaka, Nezu, and Sendagi area in Taito-ku, Tokyo.
Here’s the Q&A !
Shishi, firstly I must tell you that you have a really nice name, it sounds ephemeral and melodious. Does it mean something in Japanese ?
It dosen’t really mean anything, my real name is Shiori. I don’t really know why, but my friends took just the “Shi” part and repeated it twice when I was in middle school. Anyway, my real name is Shiori, Shi is a poem or song, Ori is to weave. So it means make songs like weaving yarn into cloth. My mom teaches singing and playing piano so, when she named me, she made a wish to me to be creative.
You were born in Tokyo in 1989. Do you still live there ? If yes, any plans to move out ? Do you like it ?
It’s actually a suburb of Tokyo. I still live in the same place I was born. It is quiet and clean. My house is in one of those typical Japanese complex housing estate which was popular 40 years ago. I think it looks very cool. It looks like many simple white box standing in a line correctly and there are many kind of trees and plants around them. There is quite a big park I used to play a lot at the center of the area too. The contrast of colors I see here is beautiful. Blue sky, Green grass, and white buildings… There are also many kind of blossoms in spring. I don’t have any plans to move out but it would be great if I could live somewhere nice in other countries. I don’t hate changes.
In which way growing up and living in Tokyo has influenced your work ?
I think my family has influenced my work more than the place I live. I grew up listening to my mom and grandma teaching singing and playing piano at home. I used to sing with their students too. So it is natural that I like to entertain people by performance with music. My imagination has always been “moving images with music” since when I was little. I am not a professional of music or dancing but I’m good at drawing and painting. So I thought that animating myself is the best way to perform.
Can you tell me a little about the mediums you work with ?
I paint with acrylic paints and color pencils then scan to edit in AE. Macintosh and Adobe apps have helped me for long time since when I was little.
Tell me about your “mask project” and the Family Tree you made for the Printa Animizumo / RISO GOCCOPRO Exhibition.
About Daily mask, I make face masks with paper and keep refreshing on the website every single day since May 11, 2010. So I have more than 600 masks now. They are actually smaller than a post card. I draw shapes on paper and cut them. I call them masks but those are actually just “Shapes of Faces”.
The variation of shapes has the possibility of infinity. If you put eyes on them, you would immediately recognize that it is a human (or any creature) face. When I realized that, I thought it was possible to keep making a lot of different shapes of faces forever, actually until I die. I’ve always wanted to start some daily work like keep updating my drawings on my personal blog everyday or something like that. But I thought it won’t be so interesting to other people to see “my favorite artistic-abstract-shapes”. Then it came into my mind : to put a “my favorite artistic-abstract-shape” into a figurative face, it instantly makes it looking like a living creature.
When I started to make those masks I didn’t set up any rules so I just did it what I wanted. Those I made during the first year look very colorful (I colored with copic-pens, color pencils, and pencils). On the contrary, almost every mask done in 2011 is made in a plain white (or black). This because my interest shifted into shape and I wanted to focus on shaping more than coloring. It’s been 2 years since I started this mask project. I decided to make a theme for each year to mark the evolution. It is bicolor for 2012 as you can see. I re-made some of those masks using leather for two exhibitions. It was ok but I don’t think that was the best way to use them.
I don’t know how this project will evolve, right now it is just my simple life-work. It would be great if something happens but I’m ok if it would be just a life-work. Maybe a collaboration with craftsmen of traditional hataori textile would be interesting.
What is coming up for you through 2012 ?
My senior year in Tokyo National University of Fine Arts starts from this spring. Which means I’m going to work on my graduate work for a whole year. It is going to be an animation video.
An artist that you appreciate or that has somehow influenced your work ?
Karel Zeman, a Czech film director, I watched Stolen Airship over and over when I was little. Also Walt Disney’s Fantasia, Hayao Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky.
Thank you very much Shishi for the time you spent answering my questions.
I wish you a great senior year !
UPDATE : the interview translated into japanese here !
If you want to follow Shishi’s work, here some links I highly recommend :
Daily masks project (the complete archive !)
☛ ALL PHOTOGRAPHS ON THIS PAGE, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED, ARE TAKEN BY AND PROPERTY OF SHISHI YAMAZAKI. PLEASE DO NOT USE WITHOUT HER PERMISSION. THANK YOU.