Sunday, June 6, 2010

Amazed by that which is not seen.

In Japanese visual culture, the result of a creation is not as important as the process itself. This was told to me before coming to Japan but I didn’t really understand until I saw examples for myself. There is a huge contrast between the traditional culture of Kyoto and the modern culture of Tokyo and it would be easy to list or describe them. But, over time, this ‘process before result’ concept is something that I’ve seen all over Japan. For example, the man-altered sand formations at Ginkakuji are impressive. But this is partially due to the mystery as to the process of their creation. If you consider that it was raining heavily only two days before these pictures were taken, you can begin to imagine the amount of work It took to make them.

In the following picture, taken at Ryoanji, It is unclear if the roots of this tree moved the wall over time in order to become a part of it or if the wall was built around the roots of the tree. Either way, the roots are not in the way. They make up the missing piece of the wall, and help water to flow along the canal while simultaneously hydrating the tree.

More modern examples of this were seen at Mori Art Museum in Tokyo. Some exhibits had videos which detailed the extensive amount of time needed to create the exhibits. There were artists present discussing the processes of creating their work. Other pieces being displayed were on such a scale that the time required to create them could only be hinted at.

The presentation at Wieden and Kennedy, a particularly creative ad agency that redefines how such an agency should function, not only showed us projects they had worked on but also videos revealing the creative process of the group.

This kind of insight to the creative process causes one to connect with the effort put into various projects. Whether you are in a traditional or modern part of Japan, what is done is not always as important as how it is done.

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