I’ve been reflecting on the space the timber ponds occupy and the words I initially collected relating to this.

Liminal space, intertidal sands and mud. Suggesting borders, contrast, shadow, reflection, shifting space, wet and dry, water and wind erosion.

As I started sketching the profiles of the timbers the Japanese concept of Ma keeps coming to mind, something that I researched for the Drystane Dyke project when I was making an assemblage of objects and wanted to pay attention to the space between the objects, the negative space, the Ma. As I’ve discussed before, I’m interested in wabi-sabi, the Japanese philosophy that doesn’t have a direct translation into English (the common factors in the different explanations seem to centre around valuing imperfection, impermanence and incompleteness and the integrity of natural objects and processes), and mono no aware (roughly a sensitivity to ephemera and a wistfulness at their passing). Relating in different ways to these philosophies is Ma, again we have no direct translation. According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ma_(negative_space):

Ma () is a Japanese word which can be roughly translated as “gap”, “space”, “pause” or “the space between two structural parts.”[1][2][3][4] The spatial concept is experienced progressively through intervals of spatial designation. In Japanese, ma, the word for space, suggests interval. It is best described as a consciousness of place, not in the sense of an enclosed three-dimensional entity, but rather the simultaneous awareness of form and non-form deriving from an intensification of vision.

Ma is not something that is created by compositional elements; it takes place in the imagination of the human who experiences these elements. Therefore, ma can be defined as experiential place understood with emphasis on interval.[5]

Ma has also been described as “an emptiness full of possibilities, like a promise yet to be fulfilled”, and as “the silence between the notes which make the music”[6] (cf. Isaac Stern’s comment below).

Important points for me

  • a spatial concept experienced progressively through intervals of spatial designation – the pausing and reflecting on the space between objects/places, the intervals
  • an intangible concept – linked with a conscious awareness of this ‘non-form’
  • linked with experience – described as an experiential place
  • we make this space using our imagination

The timber ponds are emerging for me as holders of space, the spaces between the posts and the form that this takes. The boundaries of the ponds change between high and low tide, filled with water at high tide, and with undulating mud and seaweed at low tide.  The constant is their relationship to each other and the negative space they create and bound.


I will go back to sketching and developing the idea of extruded profiles that will bound this negative space.


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