about Yugezanmai

A thought about 「Yuge Zanmai 遊戯三昧」

The four character expression of a mental state first appeared in the book, 無門関 Wúménguān, sometimes translated as The Gateless Barrier, authored by the Rinzai Zen Master Wúmén Huikai, 無門慧開、 during the Southern Song Dynasty. The expression means ‘a mental state being absorbed in self-indulgent pleasures’, or ’being free of any disturbance’, or ’seeing one’s true nature’ the latter of which is often used in Zen Buddhism. The character 遊 usually is used in Japanese language to mean playing for fun and pleasure, but here the context is how one feels in mind.

Denseness vs. thinness

Today we can access any and all kinds of information by surfing the Web, owing to the information technologies. It is very convenient, but on the other hand without keen skill for correct judgement we may be trapped in dangerous situations by inaccurate or fake information. In contrast to the digital world, art is the result of creative activities by humans, fundamentally an analog world. Since the destiny of creative art is to break through concept barriers, while some digital works might be considered as art however superficial such digital works may appear.

For example, music from CD’s does not have the depth of tones you sense in live performances.
Equally photographs and movies presented on digital screens lack genuineness. The reason is that digital objects are just mere collection of dots, while analog objects are contiguous unless decomposed to molecule level. In another words, there exists huge difference in the amount of information between digital and analog worlds; i.e., analog denseness vs. digital thinness.

Recently we are living restrictive life to avoid new virus infection avoiding close contacts with people keeping distance in all public environment. Remote working seems like an effective approach, but for some individuals it is stressful because the digital screens fail to show complexions and subtle shift in breathing, an example of thinness in digital presentation. In contrast works of art, a typical analog presentation, are the product of artists’ experience, inner senses as well as philosophical esthetics. I am certain that you all have experienced ecstatic excitement triggered by strong yet silent messages emanating from art work showing weighty presence. That is to say that you are impressed because you sense the immense amount of time and information accumulated by the artist, condensed in the presentation.

Perhaps artists pursue a mental state absorbed in self-indulgent pleasure through accumulation of time and close contacts. The venue for the current exhibition at Sogenji Temple offers a serene atmosphere of fraternity with works of art and is it not the proof that the temple is where philosophical thoughts and history are condensed in close contact?

Hiroyoshi Chikashige  Project Director