Friday, May 28, 2010

Overwhelming Emptiness

One of the temples the group visited was Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion (that was never actually covered in silver). In 1482, it was modeled after Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion, by shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa as his retirement villa. We were not allowed to go inside the single building, but instead admire the grounds that the Zen temple is located on. The beauty that first caught my eyes was the arrangement of sand. Upon walking through the gates, a form made of sand and based on Mt. Fuji is present and about eight feet tall. Of course that is impressive, but I found myself being more attached to the sand behind the Fuji reference (seen above). The ornate lines could be described as nothing short of perfect.

I have noticed, in Kyoto anyways, that everything seems to be well kept and detail oriented. This caters quite nicely to my quasi-obsessive compulsive nature of the placement of objects. As I understand, this is referred to as shin, or being shaped by man. I especially enjoy seeing negative space in both the architecture and the art. This mixed with a very asymmetric placement of objects, or designs in sand could hold my attention for hours on end. The negative space is influenced by Zen concepts and ironically I somehow find it to be overwhelming at times. One of the many thoughts or terms we went over as a class before coming to Japan was wabi sabi. Wabi is a philosophical concept that is loosely (and possibly bastardized by this American) as acceptance of transience, or an appreciation of poverty. I believe sabi is more aimed as a description of time and how it affects man made things. Aesthetic characteristics of wabi sabi are simplicity, asymmetric and thought to be imperfect, impermanent, and because the effect of time, incomplete. I find myself trying to make a connection to wabi sabi in everything I look at, from the worn tread on tires of a bike to the cracking of paint on a wall.

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