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Herald Tribune asahi
Japanese People Do Not Know Japan
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Two Big Categories

I wrote in the previous article (which is available at here) that artworks are divided into two types: one type is beauty entirely created by humans, in other words, it is an artificial beauty. The other type is beauty that naturally occurs and later is recognized as beauty by a third party. I would like to speak in more detail about artificial beauty in this article.
 
Cho-kin, or metal-carving, is one example of artificial beauty in Japanese art. Artists need a long period of training to master techniques of carving a chunk of metal into various forms and also have to continually hone their sense of beauty. The same may be said of virtually all other fields of artistic endeavor in Japan, from Japanese-style painting and lacquer ware to woodworking and clothing. In my definition, artificial beauty is created by individuals to be appreciated by other individuals.
 
To bring a smile

Artificial beauty brings people a sense of satisfaction and of being moved as the end result of the artist's own joyful process of creation and continual improving of technique. Artists create works as if driven or possessed by something.
 


 
Improved techniques and the heightened sense of beauty that they acquire through the process of creation in turn make their work ever more fascinating to themselves. One result is the pleasure and satisfaction they feel from being able to leave to posterity evidence - their art - that they have lived in this world.
 
On the other hand, viewers of the works of artificial art will be moved, and at the same time they will admire artists because they recognize in a work the artist's long period of training and effort, something which they cannot achieve themselves. And also might they not feel an urge to own and keep a particular work of art forever? The joy of creation leads to another person's smile, and this is the basic premise of artificial art and underlies also the pure art I will discuss in detail later.
 
All are artworks

Of course, beauty can be seen in everything around you, even in mundane items such as a coffee cup, a computer, stationery, or a poster on a wall, not just in grand nature and picturesque landscapes. Even in things as ordinary as daily-use coffee cups, we acquire and use them because we find function, charm or beauty in them. You surely have had the experience of buying some small article in spite of yourself because you were attracted by some pleasing detail of design or whatnot. This is also true in the case of artworks and antiques.
 
Regardless of whether we are talking of goods or services, all human creations derive from the consciousness and activities of designers or creators. The wellspring of this consciousness and activity is human energy. And for products or services to reach us, numerous other people add their energy along the way. In other words, all human creations are the materialized energy of those who create or deliver goods or engage in providing services. We recognize such energy as convenience, satisfaction, charm and beauty.
 
Beauty is energy

Some intellectuals in the 20th century claimed that awareness of beauty is acquired "imprinting" and we only accept that which parents, authorities or society recognize as beauty to be beauty. However, in my definition, artificial beauty is not passive awareness of beauty imprinted by others. It is an active beauty directly appealing to our feeling. It is energy that human beings feel instinctively.
 
As humans have formed communities or societies, beauty has been standardized, authorized, and in particular recently, deliberately manipulated and commercialized. I believe, however, that beauty is not an imprinted awareness or concept, nor is its value set by others. Our sense of beauty should not be something that merely accepts or follows a third party's value system. Beauty rather should be something felt spontaneously, based on our own senses and awareness, with a simple direct appeal. What is that "something"? It is my theory that beauty is energy having a kind of mass, an idea I will write about further in the next article.
 
Please send your comment or opinion to hadv@asahi.com
 
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