The BackShop Journal

A Gallery of Thoughts on Arts, Culture and Orthodox Christian Spirituality

Yoshio Machida: The Smile Cards

Japanese music and visual artist Yoshio Machida is probably best known for his improvisational music, and the steel pan instrument he personally made and plays. In 2004, he founded a music label, Amorfon, which also serves as a platform for contemporary art events.

Not long ago, however, Yoshio created tarot cards for the purpose of facilitating communication and art expression. Smile cards is an original deck of Tarot cards he created, or revised. They are based on the common tarot, but their purpose is to draw a smile. Its main feature is simplicity, since it uses the familiar contemporary pattern. As a result, one can intuitively grasp the contents. A smile card is not a device for forecasting or constraining the future, but a tool for exploring future possibilities. The fortune telling he does with smile cards is closer to "counseling" than to "foretelling ". Based on one's question and the meaning of the card that was drawn, he organizes a situation or a problem through conversation, which looks like an improvisational performance.

How are tarot cards related to music, one might ask oneself. Well, during his central activity, creating music and cooperating with many music artists, Machida interacts with many musicians. One time, his friends decided to draw tarot cards. Even though he never did tarot before, afterwards he felt "close to the feeling of performing improvised music." In short, the meaning of the cards that he drew appeared like points connected by improvised lines.

Owing the initial idea to the  "Oblique Strategies" made by musician/artist Brian Eno, the motivation came from the desire to make simple cards easy to understand. He replaced the pictures of the original tarot with the familiar scenery and situations encountered daily in modern times, and devised them so they could be intuitively understood. He came up with the pictures and asked his friend, Serbian artist Mileta Postic, to draw them by hand.

This  project is still a "work in progress," so he is still writing tons of tarot fortunes, and changing the pictures. After completion, he believes everyone would be able to solve various problems on their own.

Yoshio Machida was born in Tokyo in 1967. He studied minimal art, music and film extensively under Kuniharu Akiyama, Yoshiaki Touno, Sakumi Hagiwara, Kishio Suga at Tama Art University in Tokyo. He has been conducting workshops, exhibiting his artwork and playing music all over the world. His next stop is Novi Sad, Serbia, this coming October.

Featured Article
Do We Live in a Dystopia?
The literary genre "utopia" acquired its name from the novel by the same title, published by Thomas Moore in 1516. Various authors have tried to imagine a perfect society and describe it in the form of a project, tale, or novel. Plato's Republic is probably the first known utopia, describing th...
Read More
Recommended Links