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Title: Nothing matters : answering the question 'where's the art?' through Ma and Gen
Author: Kasai, Aya
ISNI:       0000 0004 8503 8699
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2016
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This research explores the ontology of Gen, or the being of a ‘non-being’, through an examination into the Japanese concept of Ma. Ma is a Japanese word and concept whose English equivalent does not exist but is usually translated as the ‘conscious void/interval’, while Gen (variants: Jen/Zjen/Xen/Zen) describes the experience of becoming such an interval. Using conceptual art as the core method of investigation and cultural pluralism as its philosophical framework, the practice was documented as a series of essays on relevant ideas, beginning with the absolute, aestheticism, authenticity, authorship, and autonomy. The paper builds on the current research on the manifestation and function of Ma by introducing relevant and necessary terms into the discourse, including: Gen, Mu, Ba, Ta, Self/Culture, cognitive (dis)equilibrium, conceptual tipping-point, ontological comfort trap, and self-obliteration. As the concept of Ma has often been associated with ascetic reduction, manifested as simplicity and silence, the paper begins with a study into the use of nothingness and the void in minimalist artworks. It also builds on my MA research and Sachiyo Goda’s study into the intercultural understanding of Ma as an intersubjective phenomenon, by introducing a new concept, Gen, which leads to an enquiry into what it means to become a Ma, a nonbeing. In contrast to the minimalist approach, the study will show that such state of emptiness can be achieved through an alternate method of ‘production’ (as opposed to re-duction) by using an authentically embodied methodology of ‘becoming’ the observed, rather than through mere documentation or representation of the phenomena. The study yields insights of potential interest to artists, philosophers, social theorists, empirical researchers, and indeed any English reader. The paper forms practical and theoretical contributions to the debates on the nature of art by: - enhancing our knowledge of Ma and its function in contemporary art; - introducing such explicitly implicit ontology as Gen; - extending our knowledge of the complex nature of Ma through an investigation into Gen; - offering a new strategy i.e. self-obliteration, in discerning such notions as an alternate to the minimalistic ascetic reduction method; - developing the language of such notions, contextualizing and bridging the Western and Eastern understanding and use of such ontology; - offering a new understanding of research with its interdisciplinary mode of practice and through a multidisciplinary body of work presented in and beyond the exhibition space, shifting away from the cerebral mode of comprehension by drawing out a primarily experiential conception of the relationship between art and Gen.
Supervisor: Lee, Ray ; Howard, Janice Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral