Ma (間) - The Japanese Concept of Space and time

I read an article by Kiyoshi Matsumoto, who explains far better than I can, the concept of Ma ().

Here's what he had to say...

"The Japanese concept of Ma is something that relates to all aspects of life. It has been described as a pause in time, an interval or emptiness in space. Ma is the fundamental time and space from which life needs to grow. Space for the Japanese psyche directly impacts the individual’s progress. These principles are universal, when applied effectively they enhance the way one thinks and how one engages with one’s surroundings. Japanese can visually identify with the meaning of Ma from its kanji symbol. Ma combines door 門 and sun 日. Together these two characters depict a door through the crevice of which the sunlight peeps in 間."

I decided that I would take what I'd learned out this morning before dawn to explore this concept further.

The image above is a groyne ( Coastal sea defence) that I regularly photograph at different times of day and season. Today I was trying to create 'negative space' within the composition that would allow the viewer to find the story in the composition.

My thoughts were to show the smallness of the structure in comparison to the largesse of the elements it faced.

Ma, or negative space can be an emotional message. They can give a photograph a sense of calm, peacefulness, and subtelty.

Nowhere is Ma more apparent than in Japan, after all the Japanese saw fit to create a name for the concept. Aesthetic values are deeply rooted in Japanese culture. Decisions are carefully thought out, never rushed. Contemplative time and space is always considered. Intuition and feeling often determine the outcome of actions over pure logic and reasoning. An everyday example of Ma can be seen in the respectful Japanese bow. People make a deliberate pause at the end of a bow before they come back up — the reason being as to ensure there is enough ‘Ma’ to convey feeling and look respectful.