Elementism and Elementism 2

Xpress Magazine vol. 8, Hong Kong

Text by Shinnoske Sugisaki
Translated by Keiko Ueki


The first time I saw the works of Hung Lam in Osaka three years ago, I found that they were not mere superficial expression. Something philosophical or essential was inherent in them… This is the reason I wanted to know why he got interested in my works. A year later, he came to stay at my office for a couple of months.

I communicated with him in broken English during his stay. He doesn't speak Japanese and I don't pick up Cantonese. Failing to express our ideas, we used Kanji (Chinese characters) to cover for the lack of communication. Also, Kanji often became a topic of conversation. In the event I could say; the difficulties in verbal communication led our communication into something philosophical and essential.

Our interaction was very creative, which stimulated my imagination, and also so enjoyable that I sometimes lost sense of time. Its contents developed from my work to the difference and commonality of Osaka and Hong-Kong or Japan and China, up to Kanji, the histories and cultures. That's why it was so natural for him, and for me as well, to study Osaka or Japan through the work "Elementism".

Culture, language, generation

I think, we could establish an essential relationship beyond age or experience because there were differences in culture, background and language between us. We were free to draw our roads on a base map. The process of recognizing our difference and commonality itself became a diary and then "Elementism 2". He interacted not only with creators but also with people from various backgrounds and generations. Then, he discovered the culture and history of Osaka, not in a conceptual sense but on the spot.

"Element" of "Elementism " means a chemical element. This work does not show an analytical and conscious notion. In a way, what I offered is a plate which he heaped with fruits "Diary". Consequently, a journey named "Elementism " was accomplished by the publication of "Elementism 2".

Asian creativity

Design is a global language. Nevertheless, it does not prevent our being conscious of our home. The pioneers like Yoshio Hayakawa and Ikko Tanaka learned the very idea of "design" from the West, and assimilated it into their own cultures, histories and styles, then into themselves.

Needless to say, Kanji is one of the substantial sources that support the local identities of East Asia. I observe cosmopolitan and contemporary expressions of young creators in a quite positive way. However, at the same time, I expect innovative typographies applying the native letters and characters such as Kanji, Hangeul or Kana, from the rising generation.