Get Shouty

Today and the spaces in between
April 18, 2011, 4:40 pm
Filed under: Experience, passion

I am such a huge superfan of  Jonathan Harris. I saw Phylotaxis in 2006 when I was researching unique interfaces and ever since I’ve been entranced by how he tells stories: his own, like The Whale Hunt  ; or all our stories, like We Feel Fine or I Want You To Want Me , which I was lucky enough to see at New York’s MoMA in 2008.

This project,  Today begun when turned 30, encompasses a simple ritual of taking one photo a day and posting it to his website before going to sleep, along with a short story.

This is a short film about Jonathan’s project, made a few weeks after he stopped it, by his friend, Scott Thrift which I found to be a glorious contemplation on the passage of time and the nature of memory and flexing your remember muscles:

  • your greatest creation is your life story
  • story as a technique to organize your past
  • I’ve grown as a result of this project, but I’m not sure what I’ve grown into
  • we need time to create our stories and time to make sense of our experiences
  • we need privacy and space to grow

The whole piece and Harris’ thoughts reminded me of a marvelous concept: the Japanese notion “Ma”

Ma (間) is a concept of absence and in-between.  Apart from space, ma is applied to the discussion of time as well, revealing that in Japan there was ‘not even a distinction between space and time like in modern Western thought’. The word ‘ma’ essentially refers to ‘an “intervalbetween two (or more) spatial or temporal things and events. Thus it is not only used in compounds to suggest measurement but carries meanings such as gap, opening, space between, time between

This spatio-temporal principle of ma underlies all traditional Japanese art forms. However, Like other Japanese aesthetic principles, ma goes beyond just being a ‘way of seeing’, but is a ‘way of life’ as well, for, as Japanese architect Arata Isozaki puts it, it is a ‘fluid term able to encompass many aspects of life in Japan. [Ma] describes both time and space through a notion of interval. (source)

The Taoist philosopher Lao Tse wrote extensively on the concept of Ma including his poem The Uses of Not :

Thirty spokes meet in the hub,
but the empty space between them
is the essence of the wheel.
Pots are formed from clay,
but the empty space between it
is the essence of the pot.
Walls with windows and doors form the house,
but the empty space within it
is the essence of the house

I’m a big believer in making the time and space to look at the clouds drift by…and now I know I’m just drinking in the ‘ma’ and letting myself grow.


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