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TOKYO CUTTING EDGE CREATORS by Julie Watai #6 featuring Nukeme : Representing a Slight Feeling of Discomfort
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TOKYO CUTTING-EDGE CREATORS by Julie Watai is column series, which covers Tokyo’s latest cutting-edge culture! In this series she’ll be interviewing creators that have caught her interest, in order to discover the latest cutting-edge culture in Tokyo. We have interviewed Ai☆Madonna, Junya Suzuki from chloma, Etsuko IchiharaTORIENA, and Tadashi Shimaya(the developer of female android ASUNA).

For the 6th installment, we welcomed Nukeme, who is especially known as a designer for “Nukeme Cap series”.


Julie: Hey, there- Good evening! I think it’s been about two months since we had our last chat. Thanks again for letting me borrow that costume during the shoot for your KADO: The Right Answer (Seikaisuru KADO) collaboration poster.

What kind of title do you choose when it comes to getting credited for something? Like in my case, I just call myself an artist or photographer, but since you’re involved with so many different things, I’m kind of curious.

julie-watai-nukeme-interview-05

This interview was conducted on Skype. ヌケメさんとの対談はSkypeで行われました。

Nukeme: I often put fashion designer/artist in my profile, but recently I’ve also added “programming apprentice”.

Nukeme’s Profile
Born in 1986. Worked as design leader on the Nukeme Cap series, inspired by the poetry of Yoshinori Henguchi. From 2016 he became a programming apprentice at Semitransparent Design. This October he plans to launch his new brand OKAY.

Julie: Oh? But why the apprentice part? (laugh)

Nukeme: Well, I was hired on as a programmer at the company Semitransparent Design in February, despite having never programmed anything before, so I’m currently in the process of learning… I’ve never really heard people use the word “apprentice”, so I thought it would be an interesting choice.

Julie: Oh, they’re a famous web design company! I see. But I think it’s impressive that you’re taking on work that you don’t have any background in like that! Is there something you want to do with programming that made you want to get into the industry?

Nukeme: No, nothing like that. (laugh) It was more like they just took in a stray dog like me. But I’ve always been into glitches, and thought programming would pair well with what I’ve been doing, so after they hired me and asked me what I wanted to do, I responded with, “Well, how about programming?” and things just kind of went from there.

Julie: That’s a pretty amazing story. Programming has a creative feel to it, yeah? And didn’t your glitch artwork originally come from a sewing machine hack? The work I’ve seen of yours was full of concepts I’d never seen before, so I can’t help but imagine that trying out something completely new would influence that~

Word:Yoshinori HENGUCHI Design:Nukeme Photo:Hidemasa Miyake

Word:Yoshinori HENGUCHI Design:Nukeme Photo:Hidemasa Miyake

Julie: Your Nukeme Caps definitely left an impression. The embroidered lettering on them attracted a ton of attention on the net when they were released, and so many artists and idols were wearing them. How did you come up with the idea?

Nukeme: I started producing the Nukeme Caps in 2008, an acquaintance of mine, a poet named Yoshinori Henguchi, accepted a prose work offer while I was a fashion school student in Osaka. He’s recently got a website up, which looks like this: http://yoshinorihenguchi.com/
http://yoshinorihenguchi.com/

Julie: Wow, his site is really interesting! How fun is it that the text clickable as you scroll. It makes me really want to pay attention to every word. I know that the caps were embroidered with Henguchi’s prose, but did you choose which words to use? And why caps?

Nukeme: Thanks! Well, a lot went into it.
At first I just had an idea about making something with Henguchi, but seeing as there were already so many artist collaboration shirts out there, but not so many caps, and with it being so uncommon to use a Japanese language design, I thought it would be fun to do it that way. As for the lettering, in the beginning I just picked from the prose Henguchi sent me, but recently I’ve been tossing out theme ideas to him, and then he’ll reply back to me with prose that fits that theme.

julie-watai-nukeme-interview-04

Photo : JulieWatai Model : Yun*chi Room : team Lab

Julie: You’re right, there’s not a lot of caps out there. What kind of themes do you give to Henguchi?

Nukume: Like when I gave him the theme “Suiyoubi no Campanella” (electronic music unit), he came back with “Yie Ar Sosuu Pythagoras Chuu”.

http://nukeme.thebase.in/items/1522566

Julie: Even though they’re just words, I’m completely taken aback!

Nukeme: Then, for the theme “brand-new white sneakers”, he came back with, “genjitsu no mae no hi” (“yesterday’s reality”)

http://nukeme.thebase.in/items/3463137

Nukeme: Right? (laugh) Basically since they’re inspired writings, it’s fun to see all the things he comes up with.

Julie: Just those words (brand-new white sneakers) feel like they’re somehow connected to me. (laugh) It’s cool how each product page on the site includes a backstory~

Nukume: Coming up with the themes is the really fun part.

julie-watai-nukeme-interview-02

Coat by Nukeme and Ucnv Photo:Takawo Model:Asami SHIBUYA

Julie: The glitch coat from your collaboration with ucnv also got a lot of retweets on Twitter. I’ve even borrowed it for a costume. It has such an impact when worn, that I’ve gotten compliments wearing it out. The way it falls when worn is cool, too. It’s like there’s a person emerging from color space of the broken up RGB (digital color gamut depicted on an LCD monitor).

Nukume: Thanks! It is pretty vivid and bright.

Julie: How were you involved in this particular collaboration?

Nukume: I was responsible for stitching the clothing on the mannequin. The print was a capture we used of ucnv’s work titled Turpentine. So it was the same kind of deal as with Henguchi. I asked them to work on something with me, and then I was responsible for turning it into clothing, kind of like that.

Julie: Your output really expresses itself in clothing. When it comes to glitch artists, ucnv is the real deal. His stuff is pure glitch. It’s amazing.

Nukume: Oh yeah! I agree he’s the real deal, but because saying “pure glitch” carries as sense of “unintentional glitches”, it’s a controversial trend, but for ucnv, although his intention is to make artwork with glitches, he approaches it with the attitude of actually using breaks in data. So he’s not just making glitch-style graphics, but actually corrupting the data, which is what I believe makes it actual glitch.

Julie: Oh, there are a lot of different ideas about it, then. About the fundamentalism of it. Let’s just leave things there. (laugh)

julie-watai-nukeme-interview-09

Photo/Model : Julie Watai Robot : Rapiro

Nukume: Are you an acquaintance of ucnv?

Julie: Not at all. I just know of him.

Nukume: Oh, but your Skype icon is from the Shibukaru festival. And I think ucnv went to see your photography art on exhibit there.

Julie: Ahhh! Admittedly I’m a little embarrassed! I can only apologize at how trying to do something and call it glitch art makes it shallow as a cultural layer!

julie-watai-nukeme-interview-11

Sanrio x Glitch by Nukeme and Ucnv

Julie: Then after that, you and ucnv did a Hello Kitty collaboration with Sanrio and released glitch designs of popular characters. How did people react?

Nukume: That was also all ucnv~. He designed the printed t-shirts and I did the glitch embroidery. It’s all a little fuzzy, but for the most part the two of us went and had a meeting at Isetan where we came up with things as we were discussing it. Of course, as an individual doing an official collaboration with Sanrio, the response was huge.

Recently the collaboration I did with Urusei Yatsura was released (http://store.natalie.mu/html/page116.html) , and I think it was all thanks to the work I did with Sanrio.

うる星やつら by グリッチ刺繍 ©高橋留美子/小学館 Styling:Koji OYAMADA Photo:Nozomu ISHIMURA Model:Ririka

うる星やつら by グリッチ刺繍
©高橋留美子/小学館
Styling:Koji OYAMADA Photo:Nozomu ISHIMURA Model: ririka

Julie: That makes sense. When the collaboration came out, I was surprised that regular Sanrio fans who weren’t familiar with glitch, were totally buying it. I don’t know anything about sewing, but was embroidering the glitches a difficult process?

Nukume: For Sanrio, things really got intense after Karin Miyamoto from Juice=Juice wrote about it on her blog.
Well, embroidering itself is really tough. The physical part of it takes a lot of time. When it comes to putting glitches into the data, not so much.

Julie: In order to glitch the embroidery data, did you hack the sewing machine’s computer parts?

Nukume: No, it was done on my PC. From the process of turning image data (.jpg, .png, .bmp, etc.) into embroidery data (.pes), and then doing the embroidery, I fiddled with the .pes data. .pes is a special embroidery data format from Brother for their embroidery machines.

Julie: So you glitched the original image file on your PC, which modified the output on the machine. I’d never heard about .pes before.

Nukume: Well it’s not really putting glitches into the original file.

Julie: Oh?

Nukume: This might be kind of confusing, but .pes is an xy-axis data format for embroidery machines.

Julie: So vertical and horizontal axis data, right?

julie-watai-nukeme-interview-10

Sanrio x Glitch by Nukeme and Ucnv

Nukume: That’s right. It would probably be easier to explain by showing you in person. I think you, especially, would quickly understand it.

Julie: It’s probably difficult for you to explain in words. Sorry to get so caught up in the details. Are you by chance the only person in the world attempting something like this?

Nukume: If you mean glitch embroidery, then Melissa Berron was doing it before me by directly putting glitches into the embroidery data, but currently I think I might be the only one. (http://melissabarron.net/)

うる星やつら by グリッチ刺繍 ©高橋留美子/小学館 Styling:Koji OYAMADA Photo:Nozomu ISHIMURA Model: ririka

うる星やつら by グリッチ刺繍
©高橋留美子/小学館
Styling:Koji OYAMADA Photo:Nozomu ISHIMURA Model: ririka

Julie: Going back to our previous topic, your Urusei Yatsura collaboration was picked up by the media, right? Working on a collaboration with a famous animation, was there anything you particularly took into consideration?

Nukume: Not anything just because it’s a famous work, but because it’s personally a favorite work of mine, I set the bar high. If we’re talking manga, it’s my favorite series. Like, of all time.

Julie; So for you, it kind of has a god-like status! You must have really felt the pressure, then. The glitch work is really stylish, and it really came out great as a wearable design.

Photo : Julie Watai Model : Yurika Kubo

Photo : Julie Watai Model : Yurika Kubo

Julie: I’d like to take a moment to talk about your work titled Old School, that you came out with in 2015. But it’s not a wearable apparel design, right? You took the WINDOWS logo and did a UV print of it on a block of wood, but I wasn’t able to see the real thing. Could you tell me more about it?

Nukume: It’s hard for me to explain what Old School is… I was going off a personal theme of wanting to carve an image.

Julie: Oh, you had mentioned making sculptures last time. So this piece’s unevenness is from hand-carving it?

Nukume: Oh, you mean the Buddha statue! I think that was around the time I was making these Old School practice pieces. They’re all hand-carved.

Julie: Wow, so these creations were the basis for your most recognized work.

Julie: You’ve come out with a lot of pieces, but I feel like this one concept is the “nucleus” that all of the others share. So what exactly is it? Sorry for the strange question. But I feel like this one has some kind of core to it…

Nukume: It’s a little difficult to say, but I guess it would be “discomfort”.

julie-watai-nukeme-interview-03

Julie: I see! That really fits! There is a slight feeling of discomfort when looking at this piece, which come to think of it, is really representative of your work in general. Well, to wrap things up, is there any genre you’d like to try your hand at or something you’d like to try to express in the future?

Nukume: Writing a novel.
ヌケメ: 小説です。

Julie: !! There’s that sense of discomfort again!!! I don’t think this could be connected in anyway with what you’ve been doing!!

Nukume: (laugh) In the end, I think that it would be fulfilling enough to express what I want to using only words, and for that a novel would be the format.

Julie: So you’re moving towards more minimal representations.

Nukume: I like abstract better. I think words are the ultimate abstract form.

Julie: I’d be really interested to read a novel from you. You’re right, depending on how they resonate with each reader, the image of the words changes.

Nukume: Yes, they’re played out directly in that person’s mind.

Julie: I’m looking forward to seeing what you work on in the future.

julie-watai-nukeme-interview-01

“Seikai suru Kado” Toei Animation collaboration poster 「正解するカド」東映アニメーション コレボレーションポスター Photo/Model : Julie Watai   Coat by Nukeme and Ucnv Nukeme lent me a glitch coat as costume for this poster. グリッチコートを衣装としてヌケメさんからお借りしました。

After the Interview/
There’s something that came to my mind as I listened to Nukume and viewed his works. While I think there’s genres that incorporate the essence of street culture into the field of fashion, in Nukume’s case, I think it’s the internet instead. Before, young people would take to the streets with different kinds of culture, but now that’s transitioning to the internet, where according to culture critics, the internet began to spread to households from around the year 2000. The last diffusion of culture is one that was achieved completely through the internet. Nukume has extracted the deepest part, or the core of it, and used the mass approach of fashion as a means of output. That Nukume has taken his so-called sense of “discomfort” and turned the reality of the floating web, where giving shape to groups of information is difficult, and given it a form through clothing, and in that way, eroded that which seems natural from day to day, is something major, I believe.

References
(1) Semitransparent Design http://www.semitransparentdesign.com/
(2) gli.tc/h is just one example: 例えば代表的なところだとgli.tc/hなど http://gli.tc/h/
(3) Glitch embroidery: グリッチ刺繍 https://vimeo.com/60466854
(4) Nukume Cap catalogue: ヌケメ帽一覧 http://nukeme.thebase.in/
(5) ucnv’s website: ucnvさんのサイト http://ucnv.org/
(6) ucnv’s Twitter: ucnvさんのTwitter https://twitter.com/ucnv/status/391232148847333376

Translated by Jamie Koide


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Author
Julie Watai
Julie Watai

After working at an idol in Japan, Julie Watai moved by herself to Italy, publishing SAMURAI GIRL in 2006 while working as a photographer for Italian publishing company DRAGO&ARTS. She quickly became an international Japanese pop culture figure, gaining a large following. After returning to Japan, she continued her work as a photographer, along with developing electronics as a hobby and iPhone apps, and has been remarkably successful as part of the Akiba-style geek culture, too.

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