A long time has passed, and I came to know how to live thanks to Letters and Clouds.

Letters have shape rules, schemes, and meanings.
Clouds change their shapes, don’t have any meaning.

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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Letters and Clouds.
I draw them, searching their personality and freedom.

When I draw letters, I explore the space, searching for the personality that each letter would have.
As I probe the lines that must represent their personality like sculpting,
at some point, the personality emerges and stands on its own.

I do the same for Clouds.
Alhough, Clouds seem easy to draw.

Seeing the letters live in their own lives.

When I was younger, though I couldn’t be a rule-breaker, I also had a twisted side.
So, in my heart, it was difficult for me to fit into school, society, and community.

When I started to draw typography by hand, I found a sense of joy for breaking rules.
Kind of freedom that I’ve been seeking for through my young days.

Since letters are the tool to tell something to others,
I had to follow shape rules in some measure, but I couldn’t honestly follow them.
And it led to the personality of the letters.

By playing beyond the rules,
each letter and each word reveals their own life force and personality.
I even take them as indivisuality.

I feel joy in creating letters in this way.

Especially in the case of posters,
the space is crowded with letters and words with various personalities.
But I make them live as one world.

I feel happy and inspired to see a community of diverse.
(Perfect for a party poster, isn’t it?)

Clouds are Living Things.

When I moved to Okinawa from the Tokyo area,
I was most surprised by the island’s clouds, their extraordinary power, size, moving speed, and nearness.
Tokyo area has a high sky and clouds are way above, than that of Okinawa.

Especially at night, it was even frightening me.
Also, it was a strange for me that people live their daily lives without caring another world covering us.
A world of huge fuzzy things flowing or growing, constantly hovering overhead, behind me.

Eventually, I lost my fear of clouds and became rather enamored with them.
I often went out with my small motorbike, holding camera, to meet the clouds. So often.

Later, I began to use cloud illustration to decorate typography or to fill in spaces.

Then I realized that clouds could also express emotions.
Same as letters, while I am groping and drawing lines of the clouds,
at a certain point, they get a personality and seem to be flowing on the canvas or paper.
That’s the timing to stop my hands.

To me, the clouds I finished are living things like those of the Okinawan sky.

As I continued releasing posters and exhibiting my clouds,
I realized that my letters and clouds strongly moved people’s hearts.

Interests in the society.
Led by art and music.

By the way, I have been interested in the absurdity of society since my younger days.

I remember, the begining was the atomic bombs and nuclear power plants.
Because we have Maruki Gallery For The Hiroshima Panels in the city where I grew up.

Since I’ve been listening to hip-hop and reggae music,
my interest in absurdity broadened.
Discrimination, slavery, colonialism, war business, globalism, subjugation, gene recombination, gender and so on.
(Perhaps that’s why I find joy in expressing diversity in poster typography.)

In Okinawa, we see great absurdity.
In particular, the presence of US military bases creates various incomprehensible problems.

I had also taken action on the military base issue.
It was the biggest experience and movement in my life with thousands of involved persons.
Through the process, I faced strong emotions and complicatedness of Uchinanchu (Okinawan people) and the people living in Okinawa.
Also I found the heaviest impact of US bases is division of the locals and closure of their minds.

For years, I lost my words too.

One day, in 2017
I happened to draw clouds
on a camouflage US military uniforms.

I just thought it might look cool.

As soon as I started drawing, I felt a strong movement of my emotions.
It was a strong but unspoken emotion.

My heart has somehow become difficult and closed while living on the base island.
My thoughts have lost ways to go.
I felt as if my heart were opened by the action.

Camouflage represents the madness of human activity.
Clouds have been flowing since far long before human history.

As I continued to draw, various feelings and thoughts came to me.
Prayer, redemption, wish, sorrow, anger.

The person who wore these clothes might be the victim of a war,
and their families might be too.
I also realized that reality had been missing from my mind.

Helplessness, hope, deeper thoughts.

When I showed this “Camo & Cloud” works to the people of Okinawa,
I could clearly see their hearts moving.
And conversations were born with a different mindset than usual.

Okinawans shared their hidden feelings and stories with me.
One told me about feelings that he couldn’t put it into words,
for what it is, “I couldn’t put it into words about the bases”.
Another person told me that he had never told friends
that he had base-related American blood running through his body.
He told me what he had been keeping it a secret for probably 30 years.

I was amazed at the power of the painting and the message it created for the viewers
when camouflage and clouds, two things with no meaning, came together.

However, the US military personnel only glanced at works and went, reacting almost nothing.
The message and the conversation were different depending on the position and experience of each person.

I have always wondered what I could do something in my way about the division and closure that Okinawa is facing,
just as Okinawan musicians are doing with their rebel songs.
I am now thinking that “Camouflage and Clouds” might be the one.

But I am also afraid of “Camouflage and Cloud.”

Each person takes camouflage and clouds differently.
It is even more so when they are layered.
It is not something I can control.

I have not experienced war.
How do people, who have experienced war indirectly or directly,
feel when they see the works?
Maybe someone might be deeply hurt.

I think it’s important to imagine that possibility.

I would also like to find out what the military personnel who glanced and went into my exhibition thought at that time.

Through “Camouflage and Clouds,”
I’d like to touch on this issues in Okinawa,
and also in the world.

Conclusion for a while.

Thank you very much for reading this very long article.

I’m delighted to give letters and clouds personalities and to communicate with people.
I am grateful to have my letters and clouds with me as a partner to enrich society.

Massa AquaFlow

Oct 2023

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