Arts preview: Maywa Denki's 20th anniversary music art exhibition

Edmund Lee

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 August, 2013, 10:42pm

Maywa Denki


For an art group that cites "nonsense" as its core philosophy, Maywa Denki's longevity defies common sense.

Founded by brothers Masamichi and Nobumichi Tosa in 1993 - 14 years after their father's eponymous manufacturing company went bankrupt - the quirky outfit is now celebrating its 20th anniversary with projects in Taiwan, Hong Kong and their native Japan.

"From day to day, I work hard to provide the customers with a dream of 'life with Maywa Denki'," says president Nobumichi Tosa, who has been the group's sole leader since Masamichi's retirement in 2001.

"Maywa Denki products probably won't go with the decor of your living room, but the incongruity will make you think about the meaning of normality, of common sense and of life," Tosa says, referring to the electronic and mechanical devices - designed by him and his team - that have long come to define the self-professed "company".

"We believe we have opened an avant-garde, new realm of art," he says.

At their current exhibition at the PopCorn shopping mall, Maywa Denki is showcasing a range of its signature gadgets and musical instruments, including a device that generates human-like laughter, a saxophone-shaped airhorn, an engine-driven face mask with steel jaws, and an automatic electric harp that is shaped like a fish.

For the first time anywhere, the unit is also displaying its latest invention: Bow-gun, a metal rifle that generates dog barks with the artificial vocal cords inside its formant structure.

"We work like a brewery," Tosa says of his workshop's design practice. "When something comes out of our minds, we mark them down and save these drafts for future brainstorming.

"Most of our products are designs based on simple mechanics and physics. They're usually made of common materials such as gears and motors. Our inspirations just come from the clear blue sky above."

To mark the occasion of their latest Hong Kong visit, Maywa Denki will hold a free mini-concert at the PopCorn atrium at 3pm on August 11. It will be the goofy electronica outfit's first performance in the city since their well-received gig at the Kowloon Bay International Trade and Exhibition Centre in April 2011. "This will be a 'nonsense show'," says Tosa, whose enterprise's exhibitions and concerts are regularly labelled "product demonstrations".

"I'd like to see the smiling faces of Hongkongers again."


Maywa Denki's 20th Anniversary Music Art Exhibition, PopCorn shopping mall, Tseung Kwan O, noon-10pm, until September 1