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2019 | OriginalPaper | Chapter

Suspending Space and Time: The Body Under the Lens of the Japanese Concept of Ma

Authors: Cristina Elias, Priscila Arantes

Published in: Cross-Cultural Design. Methods, Tools and User Experience

Publisher: Springer International Publishing

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Abstract

Ma means emptiness, space, time or pause and its origin is correlated to the ideas of transience and incompleteness characteristic of Zen-Buddhist aesthetics. However, more than a concept, Ma is a modus operandi in Japanese daily life, which illustrates a place available for the materialization of potential events. It is an inter-space of connection through which people, actions, objects can pass and that, precisely for this reason, is the place of the present time. In this article, we will address the application of Ma as the guiding principle of the process of creation in the arts of the body. The body will be treated as a Ma-body, that is, a body-in-process, in constant movement and total availability for interaction with various media and technologies in the production of meaning and creation of different art objects.
Footnotes
1
Oral source: Workshop, Studio Duncan 3.0, Rome, 2012.
 
2
Danced with Tatsumi Hijikata, Kazuo Ohno and Akira Kazai, from whom he learned his Aikido based method. Since 2012, I have been accompanying Fukuhara in his Space Dance Workshop-Performances which he brings to various countries of the globe spreading his view of “International Butoh”. In 2016, we offered together a Butoh based performace workshop at the Faculty of Dance of the University Anhembi Morumbi and a performance/installation experience at SESC Vila Mariana São Paulo.
 
3
As a practical part of my Masters in Movement Studies at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (London), I participated, as trainee direction assistant, in creation of the opera Matsukaze (2011, Sasha Walz and Toshio Hosokawa), inspired by Zeami's classic Noh Japanese theater. Besides, between 2012 and 2014, in Berlin and Rome, I had the opportunity to train and learn Butoh with second and third generation masters working in Europe: Minako Seki, Yuko Kaseki and Tetsuro Fukuhara. Also in Berlin, I became aware of and followed the Aikido based physical training taught by Prof. Martin Gruber at the Ernst Busch School of Performing Arts in Berlin. Nowadays, I am training Aikido in Sao Paulo at Kizuna Aikido with Sensei Ênio Kato. Some of the principles that guide these genres of Japanese origin have ultimately been the key to my reading of a creative body, through a translation and adaptation bias to my cultural and individual constellation.
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4
Here Okano makes reference to MINAMI, Hiroshi.: Ma no kenkyû: nihonjin no biteki hyôgen (Researching Ma: the aesthetic expression of the Japanese – In Japanese). Kodansha, Tokyo (1983).
 
5
In collaboration with Sergio Nesteriuk.
 
6
For further information about these works: http://​www.​cristinaelias.​eu/​works .
 
7
Source: e-mail exchange of 08.01.2019.
 
8
Japanese martial art descending from fighting techniques with samurai swords and being practiced with bamboo cables. In general terms means "the way of the sword".
 
9
Martial art that was born in Japan through Morihei Ueshiba between 1920 and 1930 and whose name is usually translated as “way to unify with vital energy”.
 
10
Here it is relevant to point out that, although the thought about Ma was present in writings on Sakuteiki (gardening), Jubokushô (calligraphy) and Ikebana, as well as on Zeami's Fûshikaden, there was no concern on the part of the authors to define a denomination for this idea . Ma was named in this way in the martial arts of the Êdo Era: “The strategy adopted for the fight was to rob the other’s Ma, that is, that interval of carelessness of the adversary, in which he allows the entrance of the sword without having time to defend himself .” [2] (p. 33).
 
11
Director and choreographer, disciple of Kazuo Ohno, who took up Aikido as a basic training technique for performers. Currently, Head of the Movement Department of the Ernst Busch University of Performing Arts in Berlin, Germany.
 
12
From the German “Maai (Mae) ist der jeweils richtige Abstand um in einer simulierten, oder echten Situation auf Spielhöhe zu bleiben. Das heißt auf einer Höhe des Austausches, auf der die gegenseitigen Handlungen zu einer ganzkörperlichen (bodymind) Erfahrung werden und im Ergebnis und in der Wirkung nicht vorhersehbar und berechenbar sind.”. From e-mail exchange of 1 September 2018.
 
13
Between 2010 and 2011, I concluded a Masters degree in Movement Studies at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (University of London, UK). During this research period, I became familiar with Eugenio Barba’s theories on Theatre Anthropology, where he searches for essential principles for creating scenic presence in different movement/dance techniques that might be “translated” into the each performer’s individual constellation.
 
14
Zeami Motokiyo (c.1363 – c.1443), the best-known writer, actor, and theater director of the Noh genre. Zeami wrote nine treatises on this genre: “Teachings on Style and the Flower” (Fushikaden), “The True Path to the Flower” (Shikado), “A Mirror held to the Flower” (Kakyo), “Disciplines for the Joy of Art” (Yugaku Shudo Fuken), “Notes on the Nine Levels” (Kyui), “Finding Gems and Gaining the Flower” (Shugyoku tokka), “The Three Elements in Composing a Play” (Sando or Nosakusho), “Learning the way” (Shudosho), “An acoount of Zeami's reflection on art” (Sarugaku dangi). (Information taken from Masakazu, Y. On The Art of the Noh Drama: The major treatises of Zeami. Princeton University Press, Princeton (1984)).
 
15
Zeami's quotes by Morioka were taken from the 36 notes that make up the Densyo (“descended book”), which was not published until the mid-nineteenth century.
 
16
Regarding performance and forms of creation involving the body and chance, I consider the term pathway, which refers to the Japanese , more appropriate for the semantic universe that I approach in this research. Method can direct the mind to a complex collection of fixed and immutable rules, which is not the matter discussed at all in this study. The pathway has an end, an objective, but it is traced in the unfolding of each action, as one walks - it is malleable method, open to the stimuli that emerge along the way.
 
17
We will return to the theme of perception in the next section of this article.
 
18
Music Box at Studio Stefania Miscetti (Rome, November 2017): https://​vimeo.​com/​302341049; Music Box at Paço das Artes (São Paulo, September 2017): https://​vimeo.​com/​233109413 .
 
20
Concept adopted by KIMURA, Bin in the study Hito to hito to no aida (The space between men, in Japanese). 29 ed. Tokyo: Kôbundô, 2000 (1. Ed. 1972) and quoted by OKANO [2] (p. 76).
 
21
Concept originally presented by Watsuji Tetsurô in Fûdo: Ningenteki Kôsatsu (Fûdo: Philosofic reflection, in Japanese), 1935.
 
Literature
2.
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3.
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11.
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12.
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Metadata
Title
Suspending Space and Time: The Body Under the Lens of the Japanese Concept of Ma
Authors
Cristina Elias
Priscila Arantes
Copyright Year
2019
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-22577-3_9