Unreal Nature

April 17, 2019

Like Some Beautiful Ship Crossing the Sea of Time

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:15 am

… When my thoughts moved in such directions …

This is from ‘Bleached Journal’ by Hiroshi Sugimoto:

… The photograph of the sea is encircled by a fine-grain-like pattern (or nanako), which mimics the shapes of powerful flames; the bronze is gilded (as is the line of the lotus root), all proof that it was the work of the expert metal craftsmen of the Kamakura period.

I found this object about twenty years ago, in the corner of a small antique shop in Osaka’s Oimatsu-cho. There was a cardboard box marked “Buddhist Art Fragments.” The ashes and the remains and the feratory were all missing.

That day, while in the shinkansen [bullet train] heading back from Osaka, I looked at the missing area that was supposed to be at the center of this nimbus. I began to think the sea would be appropriate replacement for the ashes that were missing from this amazing gilt bronze nimbus. (It would have to be a sea with rich density.)

[line break added] I usually take photographs of the sea with a large-format camera and then enlarge the image when making prints — but this time I decided to do the opposite, and shrink the image. In this way I was able to make an artwork of the Buddha’s ashes nimbus that had traveled across the sea of time.

In the middle of the flames, burning furiously, is the quiet sea. It stands still and makes one imagine the very first scene, soon after the birth of this planet.

[ … ]

… When I was young, there was a text about time consciousness that just floored me. It was the following passage from Yukio Mishima’s novel The Temple of the Golden Pavilion:

I used to think of the copper-gold phoenix, which crowned the roof of the Golden Temple and which had remained there year after year exposed to the elements. This mysterious golden bird never crowed at the break of dawn, never flapped its wings — indeed, it had itself no doubt completely fortotten that it was a bird.

[line break added] Yet it would be untrue to say that this bird did not look as if it were flying. Other birds fly through the air, but this golden phoenix was flying eternally through time on its shining wings. … When my thoughts moved in such directions, the Golden Temple would seem to me like some beautiful ship crossing the sea of time.

-Julie

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