Film creator SEGAWA Thirty-Seven is garnering attention from the world with the “moving ukiyo-e” series, which adds modern accent and unique humor to traditional Japanese “ukiyo-e” paintings.
His works, which add modern elements and update historic “ukiyo-e” paintings as GIF animations, can be said to be the “ukiyo-e” of the social network world.
By updating the original to be modern while respecting tradition, he makes the essential charm of the original shine even more vividly.
■ How did you get started with the “moving ukiyo-e” series?
It started when I thought about entering into a GIF animation contest called “the GIFs 2015.” I am not particularly good at drawing, so I thought about utilizing existing pictures. I decided to make clips using ukiyo-e, for which the copyrights have expired.
■ In creating your works, was there anything that you were focused on?
Ukiyo-e are paintings of people’s lives, so I put a lot of effort in expressing the background and story that is there but can’t be seen.
■ How do you select which ukiyo-e to use for a motif?
Many times, I select paintings with compositions where I can make ideas that come to mind happen, but recently, I have been trying to draw ukiyo-e from scratch.
■ How do you construct your work? Do you decide on a motif based on an idea, or do the ideas expand from the motif?
There are both times when a drawing is decided first and times when a motif or idea is decided first. The motif or idea comes as a pair, so I can’t really decided which comes first.
For example, for the animation I made for April Fools’ 2016, the idea, “athletes playing the ancient Japanese sport kemari,” came first.
In contrast, for this piece, the drawing came first, where I started from thinking about “what would be interesting to have pass through this street?”
When I make a piece from a request, mainly the idea comes first. The piece with the DeLorean driving through is an independent work.
■ Your works are also admired overseas. When you create your
work, do you consider that people overseas also see your work?
I don’t think about it particularly that much, but I try to make my works so that even if the language is different, they can be more or less understood just from the visuals.
■ I feel that there a consistent humor in your works. Do you think about that in particular? What are the roots of that humor?
I make a conscious effort to leave an opening that makes it easy to comment on. I’ve always liked comedy, so I think that is reflected in my work.
■ Is there anything that you’d like to challenge from now on other than the “moving ukiyo-e” series?
I’d like to make live action short films.
I’d like to make a unique film series that, even if it’s live action, can be quickly recognized as my own work just from watching.
瀬川三十七 / SEGAWA Thirty-Seven on GIFMAGAZINE