Hangzhou / Oct，2015 /重回富山
開幕式，在富山當代美術館佈置了一個紅白兩色的講臺。我見到了當年還健在的田中一光先生、福田繁雄先生，還有永井一正先生等一位位早熟記心中的前輩們。當年的我，用“頂禮膜拜”這個詞來形容對“Toyama IPT”和“海報設計”毫不過激。雖然，在現場沒有人認識我，但看到那些激動人心的熟悉作品時，已經不再有陌生感了。在開幕式中，除了找到自己入選的兩件海報作品外，還結識了Niklaus Troxler和Uwe Loesch兩位設計師們，當時他們是國際評委。在展廳言談間，讓我有進入設計大家庭的感受，十五年霎那間過去，但是和這兩位設計師保存的友誼，愈老彌堅。
海報三年展該是海報理想主義者的最後陣地。但是公眾關注度的下降和不斷縮減的展覽預算成正比，更多的海報活動選擇網上評選作為減少開支的一個方法。21吋電腦顯示幕和A0的原作海報豈能相提並論！但是，越來越多這樣的決定就註定海報的概念已經被改變了。那麼，“海報即將消亡嗎？” 我覺得另一面，也毋需擔心這樣的悲哀。如果按照Marshall McLuhan“科技一旦過時便會變成藝術”的觀點，那麼，海報未嘗不能重新回歸到藝術的起點。作為平面設計師，創意的枯竭才會是真正的悲哀。就算進入數碼時代，紙張印刷的海報被消亡後，平面設計師何嘗不可被轉型為圖形創造者，因為圖形的創造還將是永恆的人類需求。
Return to Toyama
“Toyama IPT”，“Toyoma IPT”. Maybe these words are an enigma to most, one perhaps only graphic designers can decipher, exchanging knowing smiles between themselves upon so doing. For me however, they refer not only to my more than ten years’ poster designing experience and my respect for my Japanese colleagues in that field, at the same time, they bring back memories of that summer back in the year 2000.
I first travelled to Toyama in August that year to attend the IPT opening ceremony. I was still studying in Berlin then, making use of the time the summer vacation afforded me to purchase a cheap plane ticket and fly from Europe first to Central Asia, changing planes at Hong Kong before flying on to Tokyo. By the time I arrived, I’d already clocked up some thirty hours or so of airtime, my exhaustion becoming only headier when exposed to the bellicose Tokyo sun. Perhaps it was in Ikebukuro, but when the overnight bus left for Toyama late that evening, for the entire ride I recall only that I slept soundly throughout, opening my eyes only occasionally when we stopped to rest at gas stations, taking in each strange new vista before falling back to sleep. When I awoke for the last time, we’d already arrived in Toyama, the streets so hot they were completely devoid of pedestrians, all of them incredibly clean. Every now and then a light breeze would waft by, bringing fresh air from the Toyama coast, thus alleviating some of the initial strangeness of the place.
The Toyama Museum of Modern Art had erected a red and white speakers’ podium for the opening ceremony that year. It was there that I saw Mr. Ikko Tanaka, Mr. Shigeo Fukuda, Mr. Kazumasa Nagai - all still with us at that time - along with a host of other figures from that generation of Japanese designers, all of whom I’d been familiar with intellectually at least for some time already. At that time, being involved in poster design the way I was, visiting the IPT was in a way a “pilgrimage” of sorts for me. Though no one at the event had ever heard of me, as soon as I laid eyes on all those familiar works, I felt invigorated and no longer so much of a stranger to it all. During the opening ceremony, aside from finding the two of my own works that had been selected for the exhibition that year, I also made the acquaintance of designers Niklaus Troxler and Uwe Loesch, the international panelists for the IPT jury that year. By the end of the discussions that accompanied the exhibition, I felt I’d somehow become a part of it all, one among the members of a grand family of international designers. Now, although fifteen years have sped by since then, I’ve still maintained close ties with both Niklaus and Uwe, the bonds between us even growing stronger with the passing of the years.
Returning now more directly to the subject of posters, these have always been the beloved to the media (especially in Europe), where - for reason of the significance and stature the media there assume - “poster artists” have come to rise to some considerable height in the public’s estimations. Today however, the golden age of the poster has already passed. Now, the information people consume comes to them via the internet, through mobile phones, along with various other media, all of them growing ever faster, more condensed and simplified in their means. Albeit the volume of posters produced doesn’t appear to have decreased that much, the impression results merely from the fact that billboards still exist in our cities as part of the urban landscape. And yet, as it stands, in reality the volume of posters now distributed to promote the same subjects they would have once has decreased dramatically. Now the majority of posters for smaller events have shifted into digital media rather than being printed and tipped as they once were. Today, the absolute hero among the media is without question the internet. Requiring massive technical apparatus, and consuming resources in the form of paper and ink the way they do, now, time honoured medium that it is, the poster appears environmentally unsound to us. We have come to a point where it seems immanent the poster will be replaced once and for all by another device, namely the enormous, digital screens that have come to rule our cities.
The IPT therefore might be considered a last bastion for a select group of idealists. Their public profiles and exhibitions’ budgets diminished, now an increasing number of poster related events are using online platforms to decrease their dividends. Can one really compare a twenty one inch computer monitor to an original A0 poster though? Still, more and more decisions of this sort being made means increasingly that the notion of what a poster actually is changing. So, “Is the poster about to disappear?” I myself don’t think we need to get so anxious about such a tragedy occurring just yet. If we consider for a moment the viewpoint of Marshall McLuhan that “After a piece of technology becomes obsolete, it becomes art”, if this is indeed the case, what’s to stop the poster simply returning to its artistic origin? As a graphic designer, I feel that the real crisis for contemporary creativity is the impoverishment of skill. It’s true that we have entered the digital age. Now, should posters and print media meet their end, what would there be left for graphic designers to do other than produce images? This is always something that will be necessary.
Whatever the case, I’m very much looking forward to returning to Toyama this September all the same!