Movement matters (2016-2018) is a long-term pedagogical research project organized by Renske Maria van Dam and Cocky Eek, and hosted through the ArtScience Interfaculty. In this project contemporary values of the Japanese spatiotemporal practice of ‘ma’ are explored, through reactivation of the exhibition Ma: Space-Time in Japan.
On October 11th 1978 this exhibition opened its doors in Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. In Ma: Space-Time in Japan, Japanese architect Arata Isozaki introduces the concept of ma to the European-American context by presenting nine spatial installations in which ma shows up in different modalities of Japanese thought and action.
Exactly 40 years after the opening of the exhibition in Paris, students of the ArtScience Interfaculty presented an iteration on this exhibition at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment of TU Delft. To bring ma alive, the catalogue of Ma: SpaceTime in Japan – as initially presented in Paris – was studied by means of in-situ experimentation. Rather than making an exact replica of the exhibition, the works presented in the catalogue triggered a new event which continued the creative process in new iterations. Alternative to architectural design understood as ‘action at a distance’ in the new iteration architectural design equals ‘action on action’: When the performer opens the curtain a stream of light fills the room with reflections, a puppeteer appears, and copper rods create spatial constellations.
An experience of one of the visitors of the performance
I enter a dark room. A man with rectangular silver hands and a silver face causes the air to shimmer. He slowly pushes and pulls the space, back and forth.
The woman sitting on the ground has a wooden board lying in front of her. On this board, three panes of glass are arranged in an accurate manner. With a piece of paper, she covers one of them. Carefully she weighs down the paper with four stones, one on each corner. Then she picks up another stone. And with one quick and strong blow, she smashes the glass plate.
Now it is quiet again.
The curtain opens a bit, letting in a ray of sunlight. A puppeteer holding two angled copper rods creates shapes on the ground. She is concentrated and calm, creating spatial constellations while guiding her two minions through space.
An angry chief claims his territory by executing an intimidating dance. He claps on a heavy instrument made of wooden pieces all in a row, continuing until the heavy instrument is destroyed.
Another area draws my attention, illuminated by a curtain pulled to the side allowing just a glimpse of two women entangled in a dance-like choreography, with two angled copper rods, rotating and revolving through space, creating spatial constellations.
I think that: this exhibition of performances is meant to be seen by architects. The performances are experiments in real space, they are 1:1 models presenting the experimental and sensuous aspects of the process of design(ing) itself.
by Alexander Johannes Heil, audience statement sent to author, October 12, 2018
Ivan Čuić, Renske Maria van Dam, Flora van Dullemen, Cocky Eek, Zoë d’Hont, Þórir Höskuldsson, Anni Nöps, Sébastien Robert, Lianne van Roekel, Daan Loor and Victor Ynzonides