Mono No Aware (物の哀れ)

Mono no aware (literally "the pathos of things") is a Japanese concept, which describes an aesthetic awareness towards the transience of things. Tim Lomas characterises it as a "mood [where] acceptance of impermanence and insubstantiality is elevated into an aesthetic sensibility, a state of mind that actually appreciates this ephemerality."(1)

One of my most formative visual experiences was seeing Chris Marker's "Sans Soleil" (Sunless, 1983), an experimental visual essay which examines how notions of memory, symbolism and cultural identity are often incompletely and mistakenly put in context across time and space. The narration are letters of a fictional camera man who sent them alongside the footage of everyday life in Japan, musing on the familiarity and alienness of the culture.

Much like Marker's fictional alter ego, I tumbled into a fantastical stream of consciousness when visiting Japan. Unable to acquire complex information neither verbally, nor visually, I fully allowed myself to be drawn into an immersive flow. My mind scanned the environment, jumping around, making sense of the most basic shapes and patterns which seemed familiar. Amongst the web of stimuli I started to form juxtapositions of all things familiar, relying on a vocabulary of basic shapes and colours. This series is a fabricated narration of the moments, in which I found that both time and space aligned around things, which - ever so fleetingly - were both intrinsic and extrinsic to me at once.

(1) Lomas, Tim. "Untranslatable Words: Mono No Aware, and the Aesthetics of Impermanence." (accessed August 28, 2017)

Mono No Aware 1

Mono No Aware 1

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