There’s a term in Japan (of Chinese origin) called Shakkei (借景), which literally means “borrowed scenery” – a principle of “incorporating background landscape into the composition of a garden”. It’s this sentiment that forms the basis of June Mineyama-Smithson’s latest series,
The Japanese artist and designer, also known as
“I felt like a fraud during the first lockdown,” June tells Creative Boom. “In the past, I found inspiration in the seemingly mundane from manhole covers to a local swimming pool. As a design lecturer, I have been advocating the idea that we can find inspiration everywhere. But in lockdown, I felt really stuck and uninspired.
“As I was looking out of the window, I remembered something I learnt in history at school. Shakkei is a traditional Japanese garden technique where the designer incorporates background scenery like mountains and the sky as a part of their design. It was a lightbulb moment. I can borrow my friends’ views from all over the world!”
June wanted to capture the physical views as well as the introspective to find out how her friends were experiencing the global pandemic – from New York in the midst of the BLM protests to Shanghai which had gone through the first wave already. The result is a colourful collection of bilingual motion posters, in collaboration with motion designer Chris Sellars-Meadmore.
“It was fascinating to hear everyone’s stories,” says June. “Covid-19 has been tough for everyone but this is also a rare opportunity to be experiencing the same situation and emotionally connect wherever you are in the world.”
Joe Stitzlein, for example, is co-founder and creative director of
Meanwhile, London-based Taiwanese photographer Fangyu Cho went back to Taipei for her grandmother’s funeral last February and had to wait for a return flight to London for months. “She thought maybe it’s her late grandmother keeping her safe but found it difficult not to be able to see her husband back in London,” June says. “The motion poster expresses this complicated love dichotomy with contrasting colours.”
In Amsterdam, Jeroen Krielaars, motion designer and founder of popular
Speaking of the overall project, June adds: “I’m so glad I asked for help. This is a visual documentation of how we experience Covid-19 worldwide from New York to Shanghai.”