19.8平方販賣機 /19.8m2 Gachapon Machine
詹詠幀 Chan, Yung-Jen
“Life is like Gachapon. You never know what you will get next.”
My friend said to me, when we were chatting one time.
‘Gachapon’ is a Japanese word, an onomatopoeia composed of two sound: ‘gacha’ and ‘pon’, one is for turning the crank, the other one is to simulate the sound when toys drop down. Some people also said ‘gacha’ means ‘got you’, like every time we ‘get’ a capsule ball from the vending machine. These toy vending machines first showed up in the US, but changed a lot and became more prevalent in Japan. Japanese capsule toys are very popular since late 80s, and also popular in other Asian countries like Taiwan where I was born and raised. It’s very common to see Gachapon machines in my country, in toys shops, stores, supermarkets, convenience stores. Since the density of convenience stores in Taiwan is very high, sometimes you can see two in one small lane, you can get Gachapon almost every day. The age distribution of their customers is wide, from children to adult, these capsule toys has accompanied with us since we were very young. The characteristic of the vending machine is you can’t choose which you want in the machine, you always get a random toy of 8~10 the whole set. Every time you twist the crank is like a surprise. It’s an entertainment experience you don’t need to pay many money. In other words, these having-fun-with-a-low-price experiences let Gachapon to be close to normal people’s normal life.
For me, the collective behavior that many people are interested in collecting these ‘small cute things’ is like a ritual that purpose is to resolve, or to escape from the depression of everyday routine. People tried to find some small excitant, like coffee, fast food, cigarettes, or alcohol in boring repeated life. I attempt to use another way to discuss humans’ attachment to lovely things, is it because we all lack something in some part, and that make us want to rich in other ways through the action of collecting small cute things? I made a series of works called 19.8m2 Gachapon Machine, it looks just like the ones we almost pass by every day expect of it was colored into gray. The transparent acrylic window embedded the advertised poster, with a group of cute-looking little toys, which are in some colorful plastic capsules. People could tell the theme is related to a room, ‘A set of toys about room,’ they may think.
Through those Gachapon toys, 19.8m2 Gachapon Machine presents a shrinking size of the city, of the life. 19.8 square meters is about 6 pings, a Taiwanese measuring unit, and the size is a common size of small suites in Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan. I made sculptures of the people, things, relationships, events...in a small suite, and packaged them into "cute" toys, and tried to use the machine as a spreading system, through the exchange of money to cuteness, people buy some (cute) toys to escape from the real life temporarily, and take these (cute) toys back to their real life. The cute toys about a room in reality are put into a room in reality. How cute were the toy doesn’t matter anymore, the reality is everywhere, in the room, on the desk, on the bed, inside you, even in your lovely toys. We can’t escape from it.