Warming-up Is Essential

At first glance, it might seem that trampolines and the spark of artistic creation are entirely unrelated. I discovered how intimately and interestingly connected they could be. When one speaks of artistic creation, it tends to evoke the image of someone peacefully painting in front of a canvas or sculpting clay. So, when I visited the Atelier Hiko, a small-size black trampoline set in the corner attracted my attention. One might wonder what it is doing in an art studio.

Machitaka-san, who attends Artier Hiko every Tuesday, is an active fourteen-year-old boy sporting surprisingly sinewy muscles within his thin body. At 4p.m., he came barging in to the Atelier with the force of a typhoon. Right away, he started to arrange the spacing of the furniture to his own proper proportions – all the chairs in line, the desks divided by the proper distance and everything in its place.

“What is going on?” I thought. As I was trying to figure out the situation, he had already picked up the trampoline from the corner. Very conscious of his surroundings, he made precise adjustments to the positions of the surrounding chairs and desks before placing the trampoline in the middle of the room. Then from a menu-like booklet, he selected a picture card representing a music song. He handed his choice to Ishizaki-san, which I perceived as another significant step in his preparations.

With great anticipation, Michitaka-san went to the trampoline. As the music began, he hopped on with a conspicuous sense of happiness. As if he were a metronome, the piano played along to his well-controlled rhythm. His T-shirt swayed loosely, its slogan “Just do it” seemed to match his dynamic energy.

“He is making a sequence of fast body movements as well as spontaneously incorporating the changes!” I thought. The image reminded me of a trampoline gymnast. On top of controlling the speed of his jumps, I guessed he might be targeted to achieve some awesome movements.

His control reminded me of gymnasts’ determination and skill.  For a moment, I didn’t know whether I was in an atelier or at a sports studio. I wondered what acrobatics he might achieve upon a full-sized trampoline. As an audience, I was eager to applaud his wonderful performance!

Jumping quickly, the excitement built up. Machitaka-san’s face blushed warmly and a bright smile emerged. “So is Machitaki-san, so is Hiko-kun…” as Ishizaki-san’s song drew to a close, his pace accordingly slowed down. I thought his energy was spent, but he promptly went to a nearby desk. With vigorous force, he started to draw with black ink.    

Within just six seconds, a painting began to take shape on the paper. Four circles, reminiscent of the Olympic logo, yet imperfect in shape, were linked together. Each brush stroke conveyed a strong force. “Wait, is it painting or calligraphy?” I pondered. In the way it was painted, it could be seen as four geometric shapes yet it could also be read as four written characters. Zero or circle, character or image, it was impossible for me to decide.

As I was trying to seek for an answer, I found out that they were high-fiving, as if celebrating an awesome accomplishment. “That’s it!” I came to a realization. The art work that Michitaka-san made was not just a solo work; instead, it was a fruitful result of his teamwork with Ishizaki-san.

It was the culmination of arranging the space and the canvas, moving within that space, connecting through music and finally creating his own unique art. For this artist, I felt the whole room was his canvas.

Is this any different than the great calligraphers, preparing their brushes, inks and paper and meditating before making the first brush stroke?

A peaceful meditation, playing an instrument, taking a stroll or intensely bouncing on a trampoline, warming-up is an essential part in the act of artistic creation.

By Jude Jiang

Jude Jiang is a bilingual writer based in China. She has a strong interest in bridging the understanding between western and eastern worlds through storytelling.

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