|Photos: LASSE KUSK|
|Words: ENA, TAKA ARAKAWA, LASSE KUSK|
Japan is known for a dynamic forward-looking mentality that's deeply informed by tradition and history, at the same time as exuberantly embracing Western subcultures – reinterpreting and making them their own, literally turning them on their heads. Below we look at a post-industrial subculture that celebrates the gothic psyche, channels darkwave and nightlife energies, and is embedded in the urban environment all the while hovering above it, intently looking and listening to it. Here, creative director Lasse Kusk, producer Taka Arakawa and musician Ena give impressions of the Tokyo cityscape and soundscape.
Listen to a composition by ENA made exclusively for this article:
The Shadows and light in history
“Here in Japan we have a society that shares responsibilities, like in a village culture… And there is also a hidden darkness – there is always shadow and light in history, and we have found an aesthetic in that. We feel stuck in the past and use darkness as a way of expressing a feeling towards the future.” – Taka
“I agree with Taka here when taking about connecting to the past. He makes a beautiful reference to Jun'ichirō Tanizaki’s book In Praise of Shadows, that book is one of the most important witnesses in understanding Japanese aesthetics today. ” – Lasse
orchestrations of beauty and madness
“Tokyo is a city of contrasts and flavours more than anywhere I've ever been – you often feel overwhelmed by the visual palette of its contrasts. But when you close your eyes, you can find the same layers of complexity in the sound of the city. An orchestration of beauty and madness at the same time. This is what I believe subconsciously connects us to the city and each other.” – Lasse
“So much recent Japanese culture comes from Western culture. At the same time there's always some misunderstanding that happens when we interpret it. Misunderstandings can make for a weird feeling, but sometimes interesting things happen in that translation. I think this is the main aspect to how we have built up our recent culture. We import it, but can't help changing it into something else.” – Ena
“Fashion has been done in so many forms and now the only way to develop is through the use of technology. Everyone relies on technology, so much that we don’t look at real things anymore.” – Taka
“I believe that technology will remain a natural part of our society while at the same time become more and more invisible, and integrated into our surroundings. The challenge for designers and engineers today is to follow basic human behaviour while creating adaptable artificial intelligence. The holy grail here is technological discretion.” – Lasse Kusk.