08 November, 2012

Wabi-sabi

In his essay, "What is Wabi-Sabi," Architect Tadao Ando says this:
Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It's simple, slow, and uncluttered-and it reveres authenticity above all. Wabi-sabi is flea markets, not warehouse stores; aged wood, not Pergo; rice paper, not glass. It celebrates cracks and crevices and all the other marks that time, weather, and loving use leave behind. It reminds us that we are all but transient beings on this planet-that our bodies as well as the material world around us are in the process of returning to the dust from which we came. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace liver spots, rust, and frayed edges, and the march of time they represent.
For obvious reasons, then, the phrase, "wabi-sabi" gets used a lot in photography. But it seems that wabi-sabi is much more.

I've embedded an interesting video called, "In Search of Wabi Sabi." (I hope that it stays available on YouTube.) Below is part-one of the BBC Four program presented by Marcel Theroux in 2009. It's 90 minutes, broken into seven, bite-sized portions:



I thought that I had a bit of an understanding (similar to Tadao Ando's description, above), but I'm not so sure now. Because it's a much more broad, cultural concept, I think that I'll have to be a bit more careful in how I use the phrase.

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