No.002 “Basically, About Collages”

Note: This column is a continuation of No.001. Please read these in succession.

So, on February 28, 2002, I finally arrived at Paris. As planned, my computer was sent to me via priority mail immediately following my arrival. For help with issues like getting an internet service provider and setting up connection, I got in touch with a person named “tsuruya”, whom I came across in a Japanese newspaper. First, he called France Telecom, France’s equivalent of Japan’s leading internet provider NTT, and then helped me with setting up a .fr email account and ADSL line. With the dial-up and email set up and ready to go, all I had to do now was wait for the modem to come. I was initially told that the delivery would take around one week, but after ten days had passed with no sign of it coming, I started to think that “tsuruya”-san had disappeared off to somewhere. “Uh… this is weird. Not even a notice of absence. Looks like I still have to wait”. Several days later, the notice finally came, so I went to the local post office to find out more, but they told me: “This parcel hasn’t turned back to the sender yet. We expect it to be delivered tomorrow”. My mental impression of the way these kinds of conversations play out has always been in English, but with my addressee being French, I had no clue what to say. Perhaps if I came back to the office the next day or the day after that, they would probably have the package. Two weeks or so later, I finally got a call from them telling that they got it. At last I managed to have high-speed internet set up through France Telecom’s “Wanadoo” ADSL cable. From there on, the rest was smooth sailing.

To tell the truth, even though my drunken appearance makes me look like a humanities type and therefore technologically inept, deep down I am actually a former train geek. If only I still understood the basics of technology, I wouldn’t have problems with it later on. For ages, I’ve programmed rhythms with the drum machine and handled musical performance data with the sequencer, while everyone else was still playing with Taketonbo toys and rubber guns. Even though from 1984 on more and more people would start using mobile service and mail, by 1991 I was the first one in my group to own a cell phone while the rest of them would argue about whether they should buy a Betamax or a VHS. And yet, I still don’t have an iMode cell and keep using the P205 model.

Okay, now I forgot what I was talking about in the first place. Let’s get back to computers. But first, I’ll talk about my latest favorite hobby, that is, the cutting and pasting of picture clippings, or collages, as they call it here. You can probably tell from the sound of the word “collage” that it’s French, and it basically means “gluing”. Ohta-san, who works as a graphic designer, was the one who taught me the basics of this essentially French activity, and as my craft would improve, I would have lots of fun sending him pictures of my numerous projects.

That reminds me, in 1981 just before the exams at university, I remember seeing an impressive collage in the apartment of a friend of mine while I was visiting him. He made it, of course, by cutting various pictures with scissors and gluing the scattered pieces together. It had all the essential aspects of a collage. As for the subject matter, it was pretty obvious. Typical for a university student, his room was filled with piles of university-related materials and erotic books. He would basically clip the head section of either the university president or its founder and paste it onto the seductive naked body of a woman from the erotic book. Once he was done with it, he eventually came to my room and recreated a similar pattern on my wall. Ah, those were the days…

Anyway, let’s get back to 2002 in Paris again. You know, I really like the idea of clipping someone’s face and personality, frozen in time on the photograph, and then placing it into some brand new scene, sometimes plausible and at other times unrealistic, while observing how this scene perfectly matches the facial expression. Still find it exciting to this day. That being said, in the case where you email someone and then decide to use that person’s photo for your collage, wouldn’t you think of it as graphic harassment? Kind of? I’m certainly experienced with this kind of fun. However, it seems unrefined to just tell them “Please take a look at what I’ve made”, so instead pick some casual topic and write about it in a very light manner. Finally, include a note in your message along the lines of “Ah, that reminds me. The other day…”, and “unintentionally” slip in the picture. Just play dumb. Then, send it off at once and wait for the response while those delightful hours tick away. But you know, while you wait there thinking “Slowly, the time will come”, remember how much fun you had making that picture. This I tell you from the bottom of my heart.

Sooner or later, the other party will come to seek revenge. I personally would accept the challenge and fight back with another picture, just as my collage master Ohta-san does with Jimmy-chan, the American photographer who resides in Paris. To this very day, those two throw back and forth at each other some really intense collages. As for deciding who gains dominance over another in this battle, that depends on the amount of photos you have up your sleeve. Gotta love that feeling when you find a good one: “This is the one!”, and the force that makes you pick it up right away. It’s a momentous event. It’s for getting the best out of these games that I bought a digital camera even though I used to stubbornly cling to analog ones in the past.

I’d actually like to display some examples from my wonderful collage collection on this site, but since most of them deal with delicate subject matter, they could be taken personally. Still, there are some nice pictures there as well, so maybe one day I’ll be able to show them to you.

On a related note, it’s been a little over three and a half years since I’ve bought a computer. These days, I mainly use it for editing pictures and writing manuscripts as well as for making music demos with the sequencer program. I hope that as I get more comfortable with computers and website management, this site will eventually be improved. For now, I’ll go play a little with some video editing software.


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