For the recent published book Ancient and Modern practices of citizenship in Asia and the west. Care of the Self (AUP) I contributed a chapter Home within Movement: The Japanese Concept of Ma: Sensing Space-time Intensity in Aestetics of Movement. Join editor dr. Gregory Bracken and me at the book launch in Leiden at May 9th 2019.
Abstract: The ubiquity of immanent change and movement in contemporary urban landscape seems to exceed the present cognitive and sensitive abilities of our species and changes the relation between people and the environment. The emergence of the metropolis affects our sense of home. In Euro-centric architectural discourse, this is more often than not referred to as a general shunning of place that results in an experience of homelessness. In contradiction to the negative connotation of deterritorialization and displacement in Euro-centric discourse, in Asian discourse there are alternative sensibilities. In Beijing’s tradition of community building, this fluid concept of home is visible in the courtyard typology (in historical order: fang (坊), danwei (单位), and superblock). Social interactions, based, respectively, on family relations, work, and lifestyles, are the key to the conceptualization and experience of feeling at home. In Japan, this is further conceptualized in the word ma (間). Normally translated as ‘gap’ or ‘interval’, ma describes the ‘pregnant nothingness’ with which the contemporary experience of home resonates. In this way, the concept of ma interferes with the Euro-centric philosophy of difference and inspires us to look at the modern urban environment from a different perspective, as a potential ‘fifth dimension’ in architecture. Keywords: Architecture, Japan, China, homelessness, ma (間), community building.
Published in Bracken, G., Ancient and Modern practices of citizenship in Asia and the west. Care of the Self, Volume I. Amsterdam: Amsterdam Universitity Press, 2019. pp. 241-257. All rights in are reserved and further distribution is prohibited. Image: GO’O Shrine by Hiroshi Sugimoto at Naoshima, Japan.