Japanese art photographer Daikichi Amano assembles tableaus which refer to the ancient woodblock tradition of shunga that includes tentacle erotica. In his studio Genki Genki (meaning "good feeling), he probes unusual fetishes, with animals utilized as props in a kind of series, in which sirens are enveloped by sea creatures. The figures in his photo and film works have a certain macabre allure. Besides the sensuous processes, Amano apparently eats the animals after the shoots so as to not waste them.

 Images of Amano's art work

Q: How did you start pairing women with creatures in your photography?

A: I don't know if it answers to how to make pairs, but I don't decide which living things are used for shooting. I provide suggestions about how I feel and we decide what will be used based on actresses' feelings.

Q: What do you think of how your work has developed using different animals with models?

First of all, it is not only just interests toward how scenes will turn out when living things are used on an actress and how much disgusting and fun it will become, but also the attraction is about their various features and natural beauty.
I think this type of thrill helps to improve the quality of our works. I don't have any firm thoughts about bestiality. For me, it is not like abusing living things by force. It's like playing with them. Or it's like a human is molested by them.

Q: How do you see your use of certain forms, influenced by certain strains of Japanese marine fantasy?

A: I cannot think of anything fantasy that influences me. Many people ask me why living things, but the closest reason might be that most of these living things are used to satisfy human's hunger. On top of that, these living things can be found in stores as is and humans eat just like that, not after being chopped and they are not in their original shape. “Yummy!” a model exclaimed, referring to the scorpion. “It tastes just like prawns!” I think their figures match with my images.

Q: Do you have perceptions about the appearance or structures of tentacles in relation to your erotic bodies?

I think that their looks and sense of touch that are different from humans bring us sense of surprise, fear and sensation when touched on their skin and intimate parts. These types of excitement are erotic to some people.

Q: You’ve also worked with frogs, eels, loaches and the like. How do you think various creatures’ structures differ in relationship to exposed bodies?

A: In consideration of various compatibilities with a woman's body, the slipperiness of eels and weatherfishes are the best match when touched on their body. Frogs are not that good, they’ve said. But how frogs are visually mismatched with a woman's body gives some people the most excitement. The level of strangeness for eels and weatherfishes is lower because they look like penises. It is just how I feel. The most active ones in vagina are weatherfishes because they are smaller than eels. Most women say it feels good because they go deep inside and move around in their vagina.

Q: Are you parodying in some ways rapacious, tentacle horror fictions or art that puts great emphasis on the strangling, tying up, penetrating from all sides of the octopus?
A: I don't pay much attention to that, though it reincarnates Katsushika [Hokusai]. I did happen to see a pair of Red Monkey brand jeans that had a print of Octopus and Shelldiver by Katsushika [Ed. note: this work is also known as  The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife]. It has a woman entwined with a pair of octopi, with the larger one performing cunnilingus on her.


Q: What do you think of the creatural strangling implied in some of your photos and the suffocation focuses you’re exploring in some of your films?

I also film flicks mainly on strangulation. My experience and sense might show on my work using living things, but I don't have any particular feelings toward strangulation and choking living things. I think various tastes show on the films.

Q: Are you interested in how horror concepts can relate to sexuality?

I don't know how it relates to it, but unusual looks and voices of women in fear cause sexual arousal to some people. Beetle larvae normally look pretty foul but they look even worse chewed up. Dark black liquid squirts out of their bodies and they emit a very particular odour. It smells like semen. The whole studio reeked of it, making us feel nauseated. But [model] Spring Bliss seemed almost blissfully unconcerned. “They tasted quite healthy. Delicious!” That’s what she said. Actually, none of this is done forcibly but out of curiosity to play with women's intimate parts.

Q: How do you think your work relates to the excesses of penetration found in pornography?

A: Not only with my movies but in all movies, it tends to go more and more extreme. This kind of public favour does not matter to me. I would say I make these movies out of my personal curiosity and craving. So, showing my movies arouses me with a similar excitement when I am masturbating in front other people.

Q: I had heard of Zoot & Genant, sex performers from the Netherlands being injured when they tried to have sex with a live octopus. Have you felt any subjective challenges in your photo processes, involving sexuality and creatures?

Of course. This is a challenge to my personal curiosity. Cockroaches are my worst enemy. I get goosebumps just looking at one, but nothing prepared me for the sight of those black bugs squirming inside Miss Bliss’s mouth. I think that’s psychologically scarred me for the rest of my life. It truly repulsed me to the bone.

Q: Would your actresses and models need to undergo particular preparations to work with various forms?

Before shooting, I talk with actresses about which living things are used in movies. They just have to be mentally prepared for that.

Q: Is there any concern for hygiene? Garnering of information from veterinary sources?
Basically, I use ones sold for human consumption and they are germ-free. I have never had any hygiene troubles.

Q: You’ve mentioned that some creatures like the sea slug gives off a peculiar stench. Are you interested not only in the surfaces of your scenes, while also imparting a sense of what it would be like to be in erotic presence with such creatures?
I don't really want to let people know how it is, but people who watched my movies want to know how it feels and how it is like in details during shooting and ask me out of their curiosity. I have strong memories of all my works and it brands my mind with the smell in some cases. They have surprisingly strong vital energies, too. I think that the photography feels alive.

Q: One of your images involves a pileup of dolls and what seems a girl or a realistic doll. What do you think of the fantasies of doll relations you’re implying, besides your work with sentient forms?

The dolls I used in the movie is called Ichimatsu dolls. These dolls traditionally use human hair, and in many stories people say their hair starts growing. For this reason, Ichimatsu dolls are said to have human soul. You can say this movie is influenced by these images.

Q: What are you developing for the future?
A: Now I'm working on a plot for a short film using motion pictures with ball-jointed dolls.

More info:  Daikichi Amano
Images available through:  Bongout Gallery

Louise Bak is a poet, with books including Tulpa and Gingko Kitchen. She co-hosts Sex City, Toronto’s only radio show focused on relations between sexuality and culture (CIUT 89.5 FM). Her performance work has appeared in numerous spaces and in video collaborations such as Partial Selves and Crimes of the Heart.
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