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.
- Buddhist aesthetic
- Creative process
1 Introduction: Considerations About Ma
1.1 What Is Ma?
Rhythm provokes an expectation, arouses a yearning. If it is interrupted we feel a shock. Something has been broken. If it continues, we expect something that we cannot identify precisely. It puts us in an attitude of waiting (Octavio Paz, The bow and the lyre).
“Inside burning. Outside, nothing.”Footnote 1. This directive of Tetsuro Fukuhara, second-generation Butoh artistFootnote 2, illustrates this state in which the body is ready to create, available, and open to grasp the impulses of the present moment, internalize them and put them out again in the form of art. Nothing. Empty. In reality, this suspended place is a void full of possibilities, a nothingness that can be everything. It is a body available for diverse associations, which responds to the external stimuli of each moment, combining itself with varied elements and creating new and unexpected results.
In Japan, there is a term, or a semantic universe, that represents this state of openness to events called Ma.Footnote 3 Literally, Ma signifies space, place, time or pause . Several expressions, such as “empty space”, “time-space interval”, “silence”, “non-action”, “border” , “passage”, “gate” , “negative space-time” , have been used to refer to what Ma means but they never seem to be enough to illustrate all of its meanings. The definition of Ma in words is controversial as it embraces a complex set of meanings with no specific word in other languages that matches this complexity. Besides, according to Japanese tradition, it should rather be felt than verbally explained. Fletcher  (p. 370) offers a negative definition of Ma as a form of artistic non-place:
Space is substance. Cézanne painted and modeled space. Giacometti sculpted by “taking the fat off space”. Mallarmé conceived poems with absences as well as words. Ralph Richardson asserted that acting lay in pauses… Isaac Stern described music as that little bit between each note - silences which give the form… The Japanese have a word (Ma) for this interval, which gives shape to the whole. In the west we have neither word nor term. A serious omission.
Ma is actually a mode of perception, which underlies various layers of collective everyday life in Japan, from the relation between people, to ikebana, gardening, in the temples, dance, theatre and visual arts . Its original meaning is intrinsically associated with time and space, or more specifically, with the fusion of both through phenomena or events that may occur at some point in a specific place:
The idea of Ma, originally, is related to the empty mythological space, demarcated by pilasters, that can be tied by a rope, where the divine would appear in the created territory. It is an empty territory in which an event can occur, and can be correlated to zero of the possibility of birth, but not to that of death  (p. 178).
In Architecture, Ma indicates a room in the houses containing only a tatami floor and no furniture. An empty space that transforms into different spaces depending on the intended use and the organization of objects and actions within it: There is a kitchen when one sets a table to eat, a sleeping room when a futon is unfolded, an altar when a Buddha statue placed for meditation.
In everyday language, the traditional enclosure in Japan receives a generic name of Ma - a tatami space usually devoid of furniture, hence “empty” in the physical dimension, waiting for objects and people, with the possibility of transforming into various environments, and determined by the established connection: a continuous space  (p. 81).
Greiner  defines Ma as a “between-where-when” as opposed to “nothing”, referring to the metaphor of a “gate” to illustrate it. Ma here assumes the role of a connecting element that enables communication and transformation. A kind of portal available for the passage of objects and people, a place that connects one side to the other belonging concomitantly to both of them – something similar to the role played by the skin which, at the same time, separates and binds the body to the outside environment.
The sun here indicating the possibility of an event, potential actions to be undertaken inside the borders of this demarcated territory. In this sense, the potentiality of meaning within Ma is infinite despite its limited dimensions and duration: “Ma is an empty space where various phenomena appear and disappear, giving birth to signs that are arranged and combined freely, in infinite ways”  (p. 53).
Therefore, “Ma presupposes division and intermediation, as well as relation and connection, instances in which the notion of border becomes a constant”  (p. 26). Here Ma acquires an ambiguous value, functioning both as a separation and as a junction of diverse territories, belonging both to one side and the other and configuring a “zone of coexistence, translation and dialogue”  (p. 27).
1.2 Ma and the Buddhist Aesthetic of Fragmented Time
Ma is a place where diverse arrangements of meanings can take place, where signs might combined in diverse ways, so that its inner content is always in process. This fragmentation, discontinuity, and nonlinear syntax in Ma is, according to Okano  (pp. 33–34), grounded in the aesthetics of Zen Buddhism, in what concerns the notions of “transience” and “incompleteness”: “the fact that one appreciates the residual element in art, that is, the vestige that lies on the threshold between form and non-form, or between sound and silence, has this origin”Footnote 4 (Fig. 2).
The outermost layer of the “Wheel of Life” in Buddhism, a metaphor of the cyclical experience, represents the twelve links of “Interdependent Origination”, that is, “how the mind constructs all movements (birth, duration and cessation or past, present, and future)”  (p. 37).
The first link of this layer of the wheel, avidya, is illustrated by a blind man walking with a stick. According to Samten  (p. 41), it means “loss of sight” and indicates a “narrowness of vision”, more precisely, a cut made by the mind in the infinite space: images appear “at the same time that options of experiences are hidden by the experience of the images arisen”. This concealment is also not noticed, that is, the said cut in infinity is not conscious. Avydia allows, therefore, the “concealment of the concealment” operating always through “delusion”, an error that passes on the idea that what we can see is all that exists.
Avydia lives in this zone of duality, manifesting, at the same time, the “ability to manifest” and the “ability to conceal”  (p. 42): it allows the experience of a certain form that rests within its contours, while hiding others that are external. The ability to manifest, according to Buddhism, characterizes the “creative mind” and is called “luminosity”.
Manifestation here would be the realization of the experience of one of the several forms that hover in space as potentiality, possibility; the lighting of a part of the infinite, leaving all its rest in the darkness. It is precisely this narrowness of vision, the focus of light created by the lantern of perception, which allows the individual to create. Therefore, creation is equivalent to operating a cut in the whole, with the inevitable concealment of the area external to the limits of that cut. This allows us to see the individual understanding of the world as a space-time cut in the cycle of eternity, a fragment or vestige of totality – a totality represented by a great emptiness.
Returning to Ma, as a cut or interval in infinite space-time, it can be said that Ma is the place of creativity, that is, the area delimited by perception, which although being a cut in the endless space (and precisely because of this), allows manifestation. Ma “is not the linear time, of the counting clock, nor the scenic time that is part of a universe of its own. It is a kind of interruption, a time-space of discontinuity”  (p. 45). In its transient construction, Ma is something that happens, which is constructed according to the arrangement that occurs at the moment of its own process, while the time of the event, of the phenomenon: of the experience of a hovering form.
2 My Practice/Research: A Ma-Body
All the works I created since 2010, such as Here and There [or Somewhere Inbetween] (Radialsystem and Festival Plataforma Berlin, 2011 | studio K77, Berlin, 2012 | Boddinale, Loophole Berlin, 2013 | Festival Dança em Foco, Rio de Janeiro, 2016), PAI (Midrash, Rio de Janeiro, 2012), Phonetic Fragments of one (Self) (Prize FUNARTE Women in Visual Arts 2013 | MIS and MAM São Paulo 2014 | Museu Casa Guilherme de Almeida, Festival Transfusão, São Paulo, 2015), Performarsi: action as perception (MAXXI, Roma, 2016), Music Box (Prize Season of Projects Paço das Artes, São Paulo, 2017 | Studio Stefania Miscetti, Roma, 2017), Oggetti della Vita CotidianaFootnote 5 (Women Video Art Festival She Devil, Rome, 2017), among othersFootnote 6, followed a similar procedural form: the focus was the construction a body that functions as a border station, interconnection space, passage or tunnel - “a zone of coexistence, translation and dialogue”, in the words of Okano  (p. 27). A body that combines with various signs, sometimes focusing on specific ones, leaving others in the dark, and creating results whose prediction at a stage prior to its action or interaction is impossible.
My starting point for creation – whether in performances or for the production of objects, installations, video or photography – is the consecution of a ma-body: a body-in-process, in constant transformation and motion, completely available for interaction, whether with other plastic materials, with objects, with other people, with the specificities of the space in which the work is to take place (site specific), with other artistic languages (painting, sculpture, installation, writing) and media, including here the body’s ability to interact with new technologies in the production of meaning.
A Ma-body is a body that functions as a tunnel, through which stories, people, objects, events… may pass. My work embraces this phenomenological idea of Ma, as a space-time interval in which the event (action, movement) may emerge.
Actually, this process starts from making the body-mind available to feel stimuli offered by the space. This corresponds to freeing the body from excessive tensions and the mind from expectations and anxieties. Of course this is not always possible, maybe never. The human being will always be full of thoughts, fears, feelings… But it is possible to acknowledge these tensions and anxieties, to look at them with some objectivity and to deal with them in a different way than one would do if reacting automatically. According to Tetsuro Fukuhara:
In my Space Dance, we can organize the body as the object, not as the subject, into Ma. Into Ma we can get a big energy from the environment. Also, into “MA” the surplus dimension will appear.Footnote 7
Through continuous training, it is possible to, voluntarily, look at what one sees as his actual real, from a suspended perspective. It is also possible to learn how to change the quality of one’s inner tension to a soft receptive energy, which can be used for creativity. It is in this state of soft receptive energy, of almost detachment of the self that the Ma space is created.
This state of soft receptive energy is present in the concept of Zanshin, which is a guiding principle of Japanese martial arts such as KendôFootnote 8 and AikidoFootnote 9, translated as “remaining mind” or “alertness remaining-form” . It is a “state of passive alertness and awareness”  in relaxation, in which one is prepared for the defense of possible attacks by the opponent. In Aikido, Zanshin’s training consists of a mental and physical attitude, the focus on the opponent, the alert and relaxed waiting for a form of action . It is the state of mind that characterizes Ma.
It is not by chance that the whole of Aikido’s interplay happens around the notion of Maai. Maai is the space or interval between two opponents  (p. 13)Footnote 10. It goes beyond a uniquely spatial configuration, which would refer only to the distance between two opponents, indicating also the time interval needed to cross this space and reach the other. Moreover, with the association of Ma and Ai, term which signifies harmonization or combination, Ma’s indissociability of a context of exchange, intersection, frontier or space of coexistence between diverse or opposing elements becomes clear. The movement or action of the body in this context is a connecting element. According to Martin GruberFootnote 11, Maai is the “right distance to keep a simulated or a real situation at the height of the game. That is to say, at the level of exchange, where mutual actions become an experience that involves the body as a whole (body-mind) and which, in its outcome and effects, are neither predictable nor calculable”Footnote 12. Maai is a territory where the kinespheres of both participants merge into a neutral space of exchange.
Eugenio BarbaFootnote 13  (p. 216) explains an idea of Ma associating it with the quality of Noh actors of being present, of making themselves visible even before beginning to act, even if they are in apparent immobility.
This moment of non-action of the actors that connects one movement to the next in Noh pieces is named by ZeamiFootnote 14 as Senu-hima, which means exactly Ma . Here the maintenance of silence is the very presentation. The essence of acting in the Noh context lies precisely in finding Ma: “Be careful to be conscious of your mind and associate it with the next mind (kakyo).” – said Zeami  (p. 90)Footnote 15. Although the actor is in a non-action moment, attention must be maintained, he must be ready or available to start the next cycle of movement.
It is “a grammatically paradoxical expression, in which a passive form assumes an active meaning, and in which an indication of energized availability for action is presented as a form of passivity”  (p. 33). For Barba, Ma is associated with the creation of new connections with elements that are generally perceived by the body as automatisms, such as breathing. This means
to be aware of the tendency to automatically link gesture to the rhythm of breathing, speaking, and music and to break this link. The opposite of linking automatically is consciously to create a new connection  (p. 32).
The breakdown of automatic connection takes place in the actor’s bodily universe through the action of to “kill the breathing. Kill the rhythm”  (p. 33). To “kill”, in this context, means to be aware of the automatic tendencies that direct the activity of the body and to develop the capacity to look at these automatisms with a certain objectivity, in order to be able to change them, creating new ways of dealing with them.
Here, one can make a link to the “dead body” proposed in the Butoh of Tatsumi Hijikata, which changes of state through a process of deterioration:
Observing a corpse in degradation, one can still see a series of movements of the deterioration of the body, under the action of the bacteria, of nature, in the end. There is no more action of the brain commanding the movements. But they exist and are visible (…)  (p. 27).
The Butoh’s dead body is actually an extremely live body that acts outside the sphere of automatisms of the individual, beyond the logical-rational command, “in the border between consciousness to non-consciousness”  (p. 70). Here, there is no detailed strategy of action, or more specifically, the only strategy is the reaction to what materializes in the present moment.
So, the process of consecution of this state of mind, a process that takes place continuously and methodically in my every day as an artist, is the first strand where Ma reflects in my creative process. Such as a musician has to train continuously to play an instrument (even after having mastered its technique), I train my body-mind to know how to reach this state of openness and availability necessary for artistic creation, in contexts where improvisation and chance play an essential role. This individual training or preparation pathwayFootnote 16, I adapt from techniques and systems of movement such as Butoh, Aikido and some strands of contemporary dance. It involves Ma mainly as a form of cognition, where the whole body is involved: a synesthetic perception mode in which verbal communication does not play a central roleFootnote 17.
As a second strand of radiation of Ma in my work, it operates as a guiding principle of the creative moment itself: while I am doing a performance, shooting a video or a photographic series, drawing on a canvas… From the organization of the space and the choice of elements, which will be present in this place, to the decisions I take within every interval of creation, all of these issues keep a blank space for chance and actuality. I never know mathematically what specific material results will come out, but I trust the interaction of the outside (space, materials, participants, objects, tools) with the inside (cognition and expression), allowing them to act.
In a third front, Ma also influences my conceptual and formal choices: what I am talking about and how I will be doing it. My preference for transforming themes, the moving body, meanings deriving from compositions of images or symbols formed by chance, long silences in-between sounds, materials that may not be fixed, ephemerality in general; a certain tendency for the repetition of gestures and actions that, in fact, are never the same; the creation of synaesthetic atmospheres… all of these come from this same root.
3 Applying Ma as a Creation Pathway: Concrete Cases
Breathing is an automatic activity. Walking is an automatic activity. This is why these actions are the base of major Zen Buddhist meditation techniques:
Take my hand.
We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk
without thinking of arriving anywhere.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.
These are fragments of the poem Walking Meditation by the Zen master Nhat Hanh . The basic principle of walking meditation is simply to be aware when one is walking. Thoughts and feelings will come and go. The aim is not to erase nor forbid the activity of the mind (prohibition which is a source of thoughts in itself) but only to acknowledge them: “I am thinking”, “I am planning”, “I am expecting”… To be aware of the present moment is the aim and means of this technique. When one is walking, they can “turn on the automatic pilot” of the motor coordination and just “enjoy” their walk. To nowhere. In a non-automatic manner. This is a completely new way of dealing with the action of walking than the one generally used in contemporary life: people are always rushing everywhere, even if they don’t know what this somewhere is about. Being aware of the walk creates a new connection, the one with the self, and kills the automatism of walking without even noticing one is moving their feet.
Handwriting for me is an automatic activity. I do not have to think of which movement of my hand will result in the letter “A” or the letter “B”. I think of a concept and immediately put it out on paper. One letter after the other, one word after the other, one sentence after the other… I do it in such an automatic way that it took long for me to notice how I have to move my arms and hands to write a word or to draw a letter.
However, once, during a Butoh workshop, I was told to dance blindfolded. With the eyes closed, intuition and touch turn into guiding senses. Hearing seems to become stronger. Turning off vision is a way of noticing how other senses also contribute to the perception of space. In this state, I decided to start writing or to recreate for me the movement of handwriting. First of all, I created an imaginary wall: a delimited space within the endless darkness coming from the blindfold. My Ma space. Then, I started writing any thoughts and feelings that would come into my mind – in a state inbetween being conscious and unconscious. Words being drawn in the air like events, phenomena.
The cognition characteristic of Ma is that of the “non-verbal text”, although words here might appear as “residual signs”  (p. 15). The non-verbal text is a “daily experience”, a “language without code”, marked by “sign fragmentation”  (p. 14):
(…) sounds, words, colors, strokes, sizes, textures, smells - the emanations of the five senses, which, as a rule, are abstracted, arise in the non-verbal together and simultaneously, but disintegrated, since immediately there is no convention, there is no syntax that relates them: their association is implicit, or rather needs to be produced”  (p. 15).
Therefore Ma as a cognitive operator offers an alternative way of comprehension of the world based on perceptual means  (p. 15) where meaning is something in construction, in progress.
In the first moments, I drew small sized letters. But it was not like writing on my notebook. Here, I was aware of the complex movements of the hands combined with the wrists. There is a kind of choreography of writing or form of writing. Then, I started to raise the size of the letters until they became huge ones. Changing their qualities and surprising my body-mind. The movement of the body has to change radically depending on the size of the font: in order to draw large letters, I have to move my whole body, in connection. I experienced the movement and forms created by the act of writing even if the material result, the written text, was not there – only the process of writing it.
From this abstract, ephemeral piece of writing that took place on an imaginary wall, I developed several works: from performance, to canvases, video and animation. All of them writing-based. However, not on imaginary walls: on tangible platforms. Charcoal sticks as extensions of fingers and hands so that the material result of the moving body could be seen. The body placed in relation, in interaction. The final object configuring a procedural object.
In Music Box (performance /installation, 2017)Footnote 18, I write a diary in real time on a large canvas that becomes my inhabitable space. I write in different languages, with charcoal sticks, non-stop for aprox. 2 h. The canvas as a suspended space within the exhibition room (Fig. 3).
When there is no space left on the canvas anymore, when I have filled in my first page, I start erasing the whole text with my own body. The charcoal words get stamped on my skin. When I have managed to blur everything, I start writing a new page. And then I blur it again, and start writing again… This for successive times, until an abstract image appears on the canvas inbetween the fragmentation of the text (Fig. 4).
An image that incorporates all my narratives and that is the objective and material result of my body-mind actions during that specific period of time. This is when I stop. The canvas remains in the exhibition space, a work in itself, without my presence but whose process reminds of it.
In the animation-performance Oggetti della vita cotidianaFootnote 19 (2017), a body rotates as if it were the hands of a clock. A live clock that moves according to an irreversible and unpredictable flow of events, where each hour of the fictive day represents a feeling, a sensation or, according to Charles S. Peirce, a “quality of feeling” promoted by a “feeling consciousness” . The text is drawn under the landscape of the body in two ways: as written and spoken words (Fig. 5).
Words appear progressively, creating, together, a spiral image that forms and deforms, which is constructed and deconstructed, which is written and erased in an endless cycle that always departs from and returns to a supposed emptiness. The Ma space.
Here, however, unlike the process of creation of Music Box, which involves real-time presence, the writer-meaning-reader relationship is built upon additional layers of mediation through the use of technology; the present time of the experience of the work is moved to another space, different from that of the present time of the artist’s action.
In Oggetti…, during the moment of action, of performance, the viewer is a camera. Phenomena are suspended for another point in the timeline. The space is also suspended for another dimension. Later, this video will be watched on a screen of a telephone, a tablet, a computer… there will be no live presence. Exchange and interaction in this context happen through mediation of technological tools and effects.
The use of the loop allows, every time the body finishes its circular movement, the eternal return to the initial white screen, where the action began and where it ends. It also allows the appearance and disappearance of the text, its withdrawal from and re-approaching the centre: a metaphor of the passage from moments of deep inner awareness to the mechanical, automatic external life (and vice versa) within the same fragment of space-time of a particular individual.
In what regards to the movement of the body, Oggetti… was made through the pixilation technique, where various still photographs of the movement of the body are taken and afterwards reedited by technological tools in order to recreate movement (Fig. 6).
In other words, first movement is made still by technology to be subsequently recreated, under a different language, as movement. In this context, choreography and movement planning also change radically when compared to a live happening context. In Oggetti…, choreography was a fusion of prefixed elements and improvised actions. The positions, which coincided with the hours of the day, were fixed based on preselected words, which were then translated into a bodily language, but still in a phase that preceded the shooting (Fig. 7).
Passing from one position to the next was improvised, so that between each hour (the five minutes or seconds between each number in the clock), there were four stills of non-controlled actions, chosen according to the needs of the actual context. Transforming, improvised, non-planed positions happening inside the fixed ticks of the clock, a reference to the phenomenology of Ma. The space inbetween the numbers as a passing station.
With regards to the acoustic landscape, which accompanies both of the visual layers of this work, it was also constructed as a binary structure. One layer of sound contained the repetitive pronunciation of the words being written, within a fixed structure. The second layer, where I was speaking in a flow of consciousness/unconsciousness (in that border stage characteristic of the Butoh dead body) with no prewritten text, was recorded within a fully improvised situation: listening to the words chosen as metaphors for the hours of the day, I spoke freely, aiming at giving external form to the internal impressions they caused at the moment of recording. Both of these sound layers were superposed in the sound edition phase, so that words are pronounced, concomitantly, sometimes coinciding with each other, happening one on top of the other. Besides, this confusion is highlighted by the use of different languages at the same time such as in Music Box. The viewer/reader/listener, in this way, also participates in the work: filtering and choosing what he can understand, making a cut within the work that will be the everything to be experienced. Their Ma space.
4 Conclusion: The Ma-Body as Zone of Inter-action Between Inside and Outside
The action in these works starts from being aware of my feelings and thoughts. Such as in Zen Buddhist meditation, I am accessing my inner content without switching off from the outside, from non-self. The skin as the boundary between the self and the others, functioning both as a separation and as a junction of diverse territories, belonging both to one side and the other. The body available for the passing of information from the outside to the inside and vice versa.
The function of every boundary and pellicule (from the membrane of a living cell to the biosphere while - according to Vernadski - pellicule covering our planet and the frontier of the semiosphere) consists of limiting the penetration of the external into the internal, filtering the external messages and translating them into a language of their own, as well as the conversion of external non-messages into messages, that is, the semiotization of what comes from outside and its conversion into information  (pp. 13–14).
This notion of frontier as a space that belongs to the inside and the outside concomitantly refers to the Japanese concept of aidaFootnote 20. Aida bases the construction of relations in Japanese society and means “space between men” . In the context of aida, in which Ma’s shared space is inserted, “the self is not under its own control, but in the ‘intermediate space between me and the other’”  (p. 76). Here, established relations acquire a determining function in the configuration of what can be perceived.
In her analysis of the representation of space in Japanese culture, Okano  also brings the concept of fûdoFootnote 21 as “the established relation between society, space and nature” (p. 67) and whose ideogram is the junction of “wind and earth” (p. 66). From the definition of space by Santos  while an “indivisible set of systems of objects and of systems of actions” (p. 19), so that “fixed and interacting flows express geographic reality (p. 50), it can be said that the wind represents what passes through a certain space, its “flows”, and that the earth points out to the “fixed”, the preexisting structure: the contours of Ma.
Berque  translates fûdo as milieu (medium) while the complex of relations that fundament the existence of men as subjects, as opposed to environment (environment), which refers to the set of relations between objects. Berque defines the concept of médiance (mediation, from the Japanese fûdosei) as a “structural occasion of human existence”. This existence “as subjects” (subjectité, from the Japanese Shutaisei, while the fact of being a subject and not subjectivité, in Japanese Shukansei, while the fact of being subjective) “is not made up of objects, but of things insofar as they are taken in their relation to this existence: in other words, as medium”. Here again the universe of Ma as a place available for the establishment of relations, for the inter-action is put into play, while structural pillar of human existence. Mediation as a structural “occasion” brings forth the phenomelogical character of existence, and in the concrete case of art creation, of the materialization, the material productions of the work as well as its root in potentiality.
Yushufû (“internalization”) is the word used by Zeami to indicate one of the Noh performer’s essential qualities: through this “intense concentration”, the “actor’s mind” can “fully penetrate his body” so that he is able to recognize “the nature of the differences between external skill and interior understanding”  (pp. 141–142). The continuous practice of this form of internalization, still in the “pre-expressive” moment (BARBA, 2006) of the action, allows the development of an ability to access feelings and thoughts and to immediately express this internal material, already at the moment of expressiveness or communication (the moment of action), as movement, as text and as image. The ma-body as a tunnel, which connects the self and the non-self, that serves as medium (milieu) for the coexistence and exchange between diverse realities.
Oral source: Workshop, Studio Duncan 3.0, Rome, 2012.
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.
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.
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).
In collaboration with Sergio Nesteriuk.
For further information about these works: http://www.cristinaelias.eu/works .
Source: e-mail exchange of 08.01.2019.
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".
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”.
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 .”  (p. 33).
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.
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.
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.
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)).
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.
Regarding performance and forms of creation involving the body and chance, I consider the term pathway, which refers to the Japanese Dô, 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.
We will return to the theme of perception in the next section of this article.
work available at: https://vimeo.com/235768035 .
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  (p. 76).
Concept originally presented by Watsuji Tetsurô in Fûdo: Ningenteki Kôsatsu (Fûdo: Philosofic reflection, in Japanese), 1935.
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Elias, C., Arantes, P. (2019). Suspending Space and Time: The Body Under the Lens of the Japanese Concept of Ma. In: Rau, PL. (eds) Cross-Cultural Design. Methods, Tools and User Experience. HCII 2019. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 11576. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-22577-3_9
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