In the latest issue of GASBOOK, media-mix projects were carried forward together with some different media ; Information and interviews were provided in Shift and Design-Plex and arts works were in CD-ROM. This style is based on GASBOOK concept since its launch, that is to examine characteristics of each medium and to select a medium which is the most appropriate means of communication for the individual matter.

In Shift, we tried to establish the communication between readers and creators with standing on the world wide point of view, and in Design-Plex, we provided information in plain language for wide-ranging readers.
I believe that the special feature titled ‘The creations toward to the year 2001’ which reached total 32 pages in Design-Plex, was turned out quite interesting by cooperation of Mr.Ohashi from Design-Plex and Mr.Oguchi from Shift.

At the end of this special feature, there was a comment by Mr.Hachiga who is a sole editor of +81, a magazine already familiar in Shift.
‘Creators of the generation full of humanity’
These words has hit my mind and I realised these words are what I have been looking for.

So, I decided to send a mail to Mr.Hachiga who has just finished editing +81, vol.3.

I guess you’re familiar with overseas information through editing +81. What does words ‘digital design’ remind you of?

I don’t know so much about overseas but I guess nobody really minds the words ‘digital design’ nowadays.

I guess so, too. As a matter of fact, computers such as Macintosh became so common therefore nobody brings up the words ‘digital design’ in a meaning at one time. I bought a Macintosh after I saw Typography Now. By that time, I thought whole book was made with using Mac but while later, I was very shocked because I knew that actually not so many of them were done by Mac. Also, Mr.Tanida Ichiro who is famous for his 3D computer graphics used airbrush for his early works. All these things made me to understand that words ‘digital design’ stood for a design as if done by computers. However while working on GASBOOK, I’ve started to feel the existence of new design streams which are interactive media such as internet, CD-ROM and games. Well, people use computer in various ways have been increasing and it seems nonsense to categorise things whether it’s done with computer or not.
By the way, I’ve heard that you featured Antirom for the latest issue of +81, how’s response?

The magazine hasn’t come out yet, so I don’t know responses. For this feature, I asked Nick, a member of Antirom, to introduce Tomato Building where offices of Antirom and Tomato are in at Soho. People working in the building such as an accountant and also the inside of the building itself were introduced by him and the article came out to be a very humane.

That sounds good, I’m really looking forward to read it. I like Nick’s articles in Shift very much and contents with humaneness.
You wrote in Design-Plex that those people present multimedia works in GASBOOK are creators of the generation full of humanity. These words hit my point.

Well, even the computer is only a tool which human beings have developed for human beings sake. So, I think it’s rather important to have intentions to change things into better directions from this point on than to deny our ancestors’ efforts for developments.
I often hear someone says ‘Japan isn’t good’ and ‘American is like this and that’ but I feel very strange about this type of opinions. Which country is good or bad, this kind of partial ideas seem to me similar to what some people said when computer came out, ‘I prefer handwork and I don’t and won’t use a tool like computer’ without trying to use a computer. Although I’m not quite sure it’s a matter of generation difference or individual sense, I’ve got a feeling of something goes wrong in the world because of this kind of people who are possessed by these weird ways of thinking and fusses they make so much about it.
Talking about music, it’s a common sense that everyone has different taste and value. However somehow it seems that the computer related industry and the graphic design world are still left behind in this sense. For the music world, there are none makes noises about a work is done with computer or not. Also none makes big deals about comparing Japanese music and Western music, right? I feel comfortable being in record shops because there are the world, various languages and genres and many more things just like the internet. A record shop is a spot I can find things I look for, if I go there, I can meet my own value. I think music is ahead in terms of sense, both listeners and creators.
However it’s not in some other field like the graphic world, there are still people who stick to strange ideas. To me, these people are very peculiar.

Yes, I think the changes in music environments took place very quick. I wonder any independent label scene existed in the graphic design world before but for music, it has existed from years ago. I feel this kind of gap means a lot. Nowadays, meaning of the word ‘design’ is questioned, I guess. I think graphic design is to design ‘something’ at the end, not like Fine Arts and Music which can stand by itself and make business. However recently, I’m feeling some kinds of atmosphere like independent label scene is rising in graphic design field. Since I started making GASBOOK, I have had not a little intention to make a visual communication magazine with featuring people creating works like those musicians in independent label scene. As sometimes people buy a record or CD because of the cover design, the expectation and desire for visuals are increasing, say, to choose the visual which fits to one’s own sense.
A while ago, magazines was trying hard making up new genres of musics but now it seems they can’t come up with any more new names, fashion and other stuffs are also the same case. I think the tendency of information for information’s sake are fading out. I feel things are heading into an interesting time right now. In other words, it’s getting difficult to express various things in words, well, maybe it’s only for me, thought.
Also the reason why I raised questions about 1990s and the 21st century in Design-Plex was that I felt many things were heading into transition stages in the middle of the century’s end. Of course, new genres’ works will come out from now on but I think the way of development in the 21st century will be different from the way in the 20th century. And I believe the core for movements in the next century subsists in human beings. I would say what individual person feels will gain the importance. What kinds of impressions do you have for 1990s and the 21st century?

I have an impression for 1990s which is someone declared ‘Remix is the only thing we have’. However we shouldn’t give up hope and believe that new expressions will be born in the 21st century, too. Someone may say ‘What? it’s just a copy after all.’ or ‘See, remix again’ but always some new expressions and creations will come out somehow. I really hope it’ll. Well, probably my real point is that I don’t want to give this hope up.
The situation which the society has accepted, such as someone who only copies others works but nothing else and calls himself a designer, should be over. It’s the real end of century that people feel imitated designs are good enough and accept such a situation. Also, it may be a characteristic of 1990s that many creators have taken an attitude of what’s wrong with copying. In this mean, probably 1990s is the time when this kind of things have been allowed. Who’s wrong, one who allows or one who designs? But I still think people compromise too easily. Well, let’s say a design work was a copy of something, but very high level of imitation and impressive, then it would be acceptable. However I doubt nerves of some people who just brings some references and makes works by copying them and call themselves designer. This kind of things are allowed during 1990s but I hope not in the 21st century.
It’s really my wish. Somehow there are too many people to be affirmative about imitating, that’s why I want young designers to be more vigorous. I want something not only an imitation. I want them to try doing something more than just imitating. Please, try. I’m longing for designers who will breakthrough this situation to come out in the 21st century.

It seems a bit difficult matter. I still think music leads graphic design scene. Visuals follow the music trends such as sampling pieces from old time. However it hasn’t been so successful comparing to music because graphic works in the past time were too well done to modify. Techno music brought up a new style of graphic, though.
By the way, I haven’t seen extremely unique and cool visual works created by Japanese for while. Maybe, the time doesn’t demand for them but I feel some new movements have been started in somewhere invisible and it’s not only for graphic design. In a way, I think it’s due to the development of computers. Computers extend our body functions, for example, one more eye and one more hand, rather than replacing all other existing technics and tools. Well, I wonder the computer is that great or not, what do you think, Mr.Hachiga?

If I didn’t have computers and networks around me, it might be interesting in its own way but for me at this moment, it’s more interesting and fun with them. I think this is the present time.
I’m not so familiar with Macintosh but I’m interested in the way network exists, the way things goes and the editing of +81 which can’t be done without internet, and I like these environments.
In this circumstance, ‘handwork is bad’ or even a word of ‘analog (means ‘not computerised’ in Japan)’ doesn’t appear in conversations. It means none is conscious about computer or handwork. It’s not important at all for me and I believe for others as well. Nobody cares. What important is the design sense, balance, timing and humour.

What do you think of interactive media?

I think interactive media has many possibilities but it’s hard to find good works.
Actually when a medium which’s CD-ROM came out, too many poor quality works were produced and people have been cheated. There are many products almost fraud.
Currently this kind of situation seems to be overcome, so I’m looking forward for now on. Some really good works certainly exist and I’m expecting high quality works will increase more.

I’ve been hoping it really becomes so. I was attracted by interactive media such as CD-ROM because of the one reason which it’s a medium realise more ways of expressions than paper medium, although I wasn’t a person who liked computers so much.
I used to like hanging around clubs, and I found the clubs were such multimedia places. Music, type of customers and alcohol are equally important and they are in the good balance. The space was also interesting because of the existence of a very interactive relationship between DJ and customers. However magazines by the time were meeting their limits, so they didn’t have so much choices besides focusing on music. That’s why I wanted to try creating a magazine including all the important things around us such as graphic, music, words, scenario, rhythm and so on. This is quite close to the current idea of Lounge that is to mix comfortable things and I’m conscious of it. So, for GASBOOK, I put things not directly relating to CD-ROM. I’m paying my attention to the package. Although it’s not yet so good, I’m going to make it better and better.
I think you have been publishing very substantial magazines since Timing Zero to +81. Including me, many people have been influenced by your works. At the last, could you tell us what you noticed and things you found interesting through editing the latest issue of +81.

Each time, I try to improve the issue with changing contents and the ways of presenting. As you know, many magazines focus on photographs but I’ve been thinking of approaches which are not relied on only photographs. I think these paper media will also change their styles in the 21st century.
Although it’s true that a photograph is beautiful, easy to understand and a worldwide common language, it’s something wrong that all magazines become photo centred, isn’t it? What many magazines care about are photo and typography and somehow using photographs to cover the lack of their design and editing efforts. In other words, many designers are sticking to ideas like ‘design is to show photographs beautiful’. So, I’m planing to deal with this kind of situation in +81 now. The attitude of designers such as ‘photograph is everything’ has caused a reversed situation like ‘without photographs, I can’t design’. Don’t you think nowadays, there are many so called photo collections which rely on names of famous photographers? Of course, there are numbers of very impressive photo collections designed by many designers but I still think people are too conscious about photographs. That’s why I’m rather attracted by other approaches.
While most of magazines are more or less same, a magazine named ‘zavtone’ issued from Korinsya, the same publisher as +81, is really something. I feel a great power from this magazine even though I don’t quite understand some contents for myself. The latest issue of zavtone is highly impressive. Its power is growing terribly fast. No other magazines dash as zavtone does, and can’t. I really wish that new magazines and media in different approaches with this kind of power will come out.
For +81, I will continue to do what I can do to express ‘the way of +81’ with taking what I’ve mentioned into account. The most important thing is the editing which only +81 can do. Also, I’m very careful of contents because there are too many lies delivered by media lately. It seems to me that quite many people are still easily believe what media, such as magazines and TV say. This is something all media related creators should be aware of.
At the last, I don’t follow the styles which are in fashion.

Text: Akira Natsume
Translation: Shinobu Koike

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