Ryuko FURUKAWA [ 古川 柳子 ] - TEDxSeeds 2011

Uploaded by TEDxTalks on 12.11.2011

As introduced previously
I've been in and out of the media
and academic fields.
Today, I will focus a bit
on history and culture
and their connections to the media.
About three years ago,
I took up the hobby of tea ceremony.
Until then, I've always wondered
what all the fuss was about
for a mere cup of tea.
As I got to know more
about the history of tea ceremony,
I came to view it
as an important and interesting medium
to transmit Japanese culture to the world.
There is a small entrance
that leads to the tea room,
it is called Nijiriguchi.
At the entrance
the samurai would leave his katana sword
People of standing
would leave their titles at the door,
inside the tea room,
it was a place to meet
as fellow human beings
that type of message is said to be included
in the meaning of nijiriguchi.
Today, using tea as an example,
I want to look into how,
when it is introduced
through the media
what aspect of Japanese culture
we are able to grasp
But before we get into tea
I want to touch on media for a little bit
When you hear the word media,
what comes to mind?
Maybe, the newspaper, television,
or perhaps the internet
we could even mention cellular phones.
Well, depending on whom you ask,
the word can have different meanings
but in general,
media is a means of expression,
a medium to transmit information,
the process itself could be called media.
Looking back at
the previous presentation 'ichinoza'
Maps, are a great medium
to conceptualize our world
Whether from a micro
or astronomical point of view,
without media,
there is a lot of information
that we would not be able to grasp
With that definition,
there are a lot of things
that we could call media
There are many things from the past
which we could consider
state of the art forms of media.
The following abstract concepts
could also be considered media.
Facial expressions,
the changing of the seasons, and so on.
There is a lot of information
that we can obtain from these
Here is another example:
Piss and blood.
Now you're probably thinking,
why in the world would this be media.
If you look at it
from the perspective of a doctor
these are very useful forms of media
through which one can gain information
about the patient's current condition.
In media theory,
media is defined as the information
one comes across in a particular situation.
let's now turn to tea.
Although you may not
be familiar with tea ceremony,
most of you have somewhat of an idea
as to what the words
on the screen above mean
Let us discuss some of the deeper meaning
behind these words
I still have a lot of questions and doubts so,
I am hoping
that there are no tea ceremony experts
in the audience.
Okay, moving on to the tea rooms
First thing I want to focus on
regarding the tea rooms
is the narrowness.
Recently on television
There have been commercials
poking fun at the size of tea rooms.
Have you seen them?
When Japanese people see these commercials
they take for granted the size of the tea rooms
and probably think of course they are small,
we all know that.
It is common knowledge and so on
However, before wabicha
Tea ceremonies were performed
in large rooms
At the time,
using very expensive
Chinese tea ceremony utensils
while appreciating and praising these utensils,
one enjoyed the tea ceremony
also known as the predecessor of wabicha
developed the space of Ojo
in a room the size of 4 tatami mats
Rikyu then,
by removing waste
and emphasizing nature
reduced the space to 2 tatami mats
Mr Soutan,
then finally reduced it to one tatami mat.
If one thinks about it,
this type of odd hospitality space
is unique to Japan.
Looking at cultural artifacts
we notice that as they gain prominence,
they usually grow in size.
That is the usual case
So why is it that in Japan
with refinement comes a decrease in size
There are many examples of things in japan
that over the years have shrunk in size.
For example, sensu (Japanese fan)
The big fans came from China to Japan
After making their way to Japan
they became pretty and small portable fans.
One theory is that
these fans
were the first imported items to Japan.
The concept behind transistor radios
And walkmans
could also be cited as examples
We refer to the nexus of the tea room and the mobility,
as "shrinkage and change."
Mr. Seigo Matsuoka call it "the country of remnant, the country of change."
Today, we don't have much time
to elaborate, but in essence,
we are taking specific details, condensing it
and then, finding ways
to emphasize certain particular aspects
This type of aesthetics can be witnessed
in Rikyu's famous 'morning glory'
Or the abstract of Ukiyoe's paintings.
All of these are a reflection
of the Japanese sense of the abstract.
Take the walkman for example,
by separating images from sound
We are able to bring the beauty of sound
into a mobile context
and appreciate it even more.
In terms of space we can say movement
In terms of time: change
who came at the end of the edo period
introduced portable items
from the edo period
for example, ink cases and telescopes
You've probably heard
people's amazement
at the beauty of such items
Assuming that we are moving on our own
we want to be able to
bring things along with us
We feel a great affection for these items
and will cherish them for a long time
These mobile items
I think are related to today's mobile society.
We can appreciate the beauty
associated with the passage of time
like the changing seasons,
when flowers wither,
how the moon peaks out from the clouds
The sense of time from an old Buddha sculpture.
I see and feel beauty in all of these things.
Even now, as far as internet rankings go
for the spring cherry blossoms,
or the fall foliage, Japan comes out on top
I doubt there is another country
that tops Japan in that respect
I think that
we all have this aesthetic sense inside us
This tea room concept, like the seasons
will naturally disappear
with the passage of time
It is said that it is created
with the idea of a temporary escape
In some ways, we can say,
that the western sense of value
which centers more on firm
and universal concepts is different.
I believe that these differences in thoughts
influence our view of life and death.
Okay, let's now discuss the tea rooms
In the tea room,
You will see paintings,
hear the sound of boiling water,
enjoy pleasing fragrances
all while enjoying traditional food and green tea
You are getting information /media
through the five senses
Whenever I have the chance
to appreciate tea ceremony
I think that
tea ceremony has had an influence
on Japanese crafts
For example, the architecture
molding, woodwork,
paintings, and the dyes,
All of these techniques are made by
drinking a cup of green tea in daily life.
Techniques that were collected
and determined,
and particular to a specific region
the Japanese brought many aesthetics
in their daily lives
like injecting beauty in technology.
High definition televisions
could be cited as a recent example.
As Mr Negroponte said,
the Japanese might have been
the first ones to try to condense
the use of digital television
in order to bring out its beauty.
In the west, yes
digital technology was first employed
in multi-channel use
In order to market televisions in Japan,
people were fed messages regarding elementary colors,
black colors, the use of green colors and so on.
It is probably only in Japan
that you can witness such promotion
If we stop and think for a bit,
we realize that this is an issue
related to the arts and technology
What do we use technology on?
The answer will probably depend on
to your cultural background
as well as your values and attitudes
toward aesthetics
the word "ART"
Definitely has the meaning of literature
but technology and skill
can also be included in the definition of art.
In Japan, in the past,
if one looked at the character for art,
they would realize that
there were no distinctions made
between technology and the arts.
The one with technique
was a technical professional.
For example, Leonardo Da Vinci
the same goes for Japanese professionals.
with the proliferation of machines
after the industrial revolution
technology and art have been drifting apart.
Then once again in the 20th century,
the Germans wanted to bring art
and technology back together.
In particular, one man named Bauhaus.
As some of you might know,
the people known as headstream of design
have a philosophy of designing
to reduce as much waste as possible
All the while putting emphasis on capability
while fitting the material into shapes
which look very beautiful.
In western culture,
this was akin to a beauty revolution
and as you may have notice,
Japan is very particular about beauty.
This is not a coincidence
Nicolas Iten and Bruno Taut
who started the Bauhaus
were known to have been influenced
by Asian beauty, philosophy
and Japanese architecture.
So in a sense,
we can say that
today's world standard of modern design
have been influenced
by Japanese aesthetics.
Let us take Japanese old figures
for instance,
they are a surprisingly great addition
to a modern interior.
Now, you cannot make Japanese green tea
even if you have a tea room
and the proper utensils to make it.
The secret to making great tea
lies in the way you make it.
Someone once said:
"Japanese ceremonial tea is an art of
Body-mediated artistic gestures
When I think about this statement,
The baseball player, Ichiro comes to mind
According to Ichiro,
the keywords body and shape are important
The secret to perfecting his batting skills
lies in keeping the same rhythm
as well as practicing on a daily basis
In the batter box
he always stands in the same position
while meeting different balls.
In order to concentrate
both his mental and physical skills
for that one hit what should be done?
This process can be called 'shape'
The same applies to green tea
Facing your guest,
you take a look inside their heart
and adjust to their rhythm.
And then you can start making tea.
Our individual timing is important,
but how they breathe is also important.
My point is
that by sharing the same physical space,
we are able to create communication
We are referring to
a type of communication
which cannot quite be put into words.
When I first started "Temae (procedure of making tea)",
I remember being told:
This should be done with the right hand
whereas here the left hand should be used
and here the left foot.
All these rules
and I thought to myself,
why does it have to be so complicated.
Maybe it has to do with
the long years of learning through trial and error,
that led to the physically most efficient
and geometrically,
most graceful movements of the body.
However, the body
cannot move exactly
as you'd like
you need to first consider your form
the most important thing
then becomes the process
that takes us from form to movement.
That is an essential concept
and the very essence of form.
what is the form of Cha (tea)?
Drinking tea is
not the ultimate goal.
Let's once again take Ichiro
as an example.
As he faces the pitcher and awaits his throw,
he gets into a batting stance.
His stance is his form.
The important thing with tea
is not just drinking the tea
but how the guest and host interact
creating abundant time and space
in this one room
where both sides are interacting
is called "ichizakonnryu"
(a Japanese spiritual word meaning bonding people together during the tea ceremony)
The concept of "ichizakonnryu"
came from Jyoo,
the master of Rikyuu,
who brought it to "Chanoyu"
Jyoo is a master of tea ceremony
as well as a "Renga" poet.
As you may know, "Renga"
is a very unique form of poetry.
Renga brings out one's own character.
They think about the poets from the past
and study their work
in order to combine them.
You could call it, creating poetic rhythm
You'll find similarities with creative writing
this is more of a participatory art form.
These things could be seen in "Chanoyu"
However, recently on the internet
people are uniting and creating
new forms of expressions
things like "user generated contents"
are created in various forms.
My friend for example
does "Renga",
That is,
he sends pictures from his cell phone
along with related comments
The collation of pictures
from users around the world
then creates an image of the galaxy.
There are people who do media art
as a form of self expression.
In other words,
If you look at it solely
from the perspective of one's character
cooperating to create something
is a very difficult task.
It is therefore not only necessary
for each participant
to create a design,
that fosters communication,
but also to have a set of rules
to facilitate the overall flow.
Recently in the media,
communication design has become
a popular subject of discussion.
But to put it simply, communication
is about the relationship
between time and space.
So, in the word "ichizakonnryu",
Here is a hint as to the meaning of
communication design:
Ichigo Ichie
("Treasure every encounter, for it will never recur")
and "TEDxSeeds"
And there, no need to go into details!
I think that media design
is about connecting people and things,
or a way of connecting people and society.
It is the design of time and space.
When human beings
go beyond their capabilities
a gap between spaces is created.
Media has been created
in order to fill that gap
which we cannot cover.
When we wanted to see something distant
the television was invented.
The internet,
allows us to connect with people
anywhere at anytime
as well as to share a lot of different things.
Of course, it has become useful
and you could even call this freedom.
In a sense,
precisely because of
the development of media technology,
the space that we call "now"
makes the body whole.
This is where communication starts.
Recently, this has been forgotten
regardless of the advances
we make in technology
it is something that we should never forget.
That is why scarcity amounts to value.
As I think about where I am right now,
and having this opportunity for all of us to meet,
the meaning of "TEDxSeeds"
is truly something to reflect upon.
I have talked about many things
The key word: connection
I have talked about
the connection of "Chanoyo" and 'now'
When I think about
the direction of media design,
how to combine and integrate
these various elements,
thoughts and concepts
I realize that it is no easy task.
We are standing at
the crossroads of a technology revolution
what do we use this technology for
in other words
what can we transmit from Japan
using this technology?
When we think about these things,
The historical layer of space and time
that has developed over the years
that form.
I think this would be a great
asset to us.
This is not to say we need to protect this
because it's Japanese
or perhaps because it is old.
Maybe in that essence,
the things that allow us to connect and
relate to the world and gets across.
In other words, things
that give us a hint regarding the future
I think we can find such things
With that perspective,
I think it is also important
to reevaluate our views on traditions.
Today, I used the tea metaphor
but if you look around,
there are all sorts of media around us.
The different colored paper
which was handed out to you
is an excellent example of media.
If all of you were to start looking at
your daily life from this sort of media perspective,
Your daily life would begin to
look a little bit different.
I rarely get opportunities such as this
to discuss with an audience.
I am very thankful for TEDxSeeds
for giving me this opportunity.
Thank you very much