Japanese cultural experiences—such as ikebana, tea ceremonies, Zen gardens, and Japanese pottery—always remind me that a non-decorative space can also have a meaningful design. I love a rustic look myself, and also take time to think about something called "wabi-sabi" aesthetics. Here's what I mean:
The image to the left is a completely broken, old sliding door in my photo and paper-making studio. I have worked here for four years, and I never thought to repair it or get a new one. In the Japanese tradition of wabi-sabi, in fact, it isn't just an old door—it represents the passage of time. By replacing it, I could never re-create the all-natural, elemental sculpture of its shape.
Some of my friends ask me, "When are you going to fix it?" and I just answer, "I am not going to do it."
As long as I work as an artist, I will be capturing and representing Japanese aesthetics in my artworks. Before this space, I worked in modern buildings with no vintage aspects to their design. But now, I get to enjoy seeing this door everyday; it's about finding the beauty in imperfection and experiencing an awareness of the transience of things.
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In Japanese, "wabi" connotes rustic simplicity, freshness, quietness, and natural and human-made objects; "sabi" stands for the beauty or serenity that comes with age, when the life of the object and its impermanence are evidenced in its patina and wear. I believe that wabi-sabi is one of the most unique ways to experience aesthetic pleasure in our daily lives, and probably the most characteristic principle of Japanese art.
Mika Horie is a photographer and visual artist based in Kyoto and Ishikawa. She specializes in photo printing on washi paper that she makes herself, using traditional methods.
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