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Toggle navigation Menu. Name of resource. Problem URL. Describe the connection issue. SearchWorks Catalog Stanford Libraries. Artistic detachment in Japan and the west : psychic distance in comparative aesthetics. Responsibility Steve Odin.
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Imprint Honolulu : University of Hawai'i Press, c Physical description vii, p. Online Available online. Full view. The act of over-imposing his face on these pictures or paintings acquires a political significance: it confronts the viewer especially the Western viewer with the beauty of the other and determines her to think more about the cannons of ideal beauty and artistic success. Had Mona Lisa been an Asian man, would we have found her still beautiful?
If we experience it in a conceptual vacuum as the purist beauty requires then we miss its point and its beauty altogether. In other words, if we see it without any conceptual content and without having a purpose of its function in mind, it does not seem beautiful.
Yet this may in itself support the reemergence of beauty as a critical category. Morimura uses a Western image of feminine beauty to subvert and criticize it. The beauty of this impersonation does not occasion in viewer an immediate and disinterested pleasure and contemplative mood; on the contrary, we experience it as a beautiful piece of art for the political-critical function it performs. This beauty is neither function-less nor immediately pleasant to the sight. As Elliott acknowledges, Japanese art has achieved great popularity in the West solely through manga and anime. That is the reason why Japanese art is generally misunderstood and misinterpreted as being infantile, shallow and superficial.
Bye, Bye Kitty rectifies this opinion through the work of fifteen dexterous politically engaged artists who express their anger and astute social criticism in three interrelated sections. The Grandmothers series is a project which attempts to envision visually and conceptually a self-perceived projection into the future of several young women. Women are pushed to conform to a paradigmatic model of beauty at any cost.
The stereotyped image of a beautiful woman, the one which is distributed through fashion advertisements, is a disturbing impersonation of artificiality and anonymous conformity to a standard model. This imposed glamorization of femininity is not only an issue in Japanese culture: it is a global standard grounded on a certain narrow conception of beauty which still lingers on in aesthetic theory, in which beauty is defined as being inextricable from surface and appearance, immediate perception and disinterested pleasure.
My Grandmothers consists of twenty-five photographs of seemingly elderly women. Every photograph is displayed together with an accompanying text. Actually, the grandmothers are posed by both young men and women in their twenties and thirties.
Chapter One. Japanese Aesthetics In The World
Towards the end of this project, Yanagi has staged their vision-projection into the future in photographs which make them look older, using special make-up and computer manipulation. Yanagi assumes that once a woman gets older, she becomes more eager to talk openly about her expectations and strange desires. That is the reason why her extraordinary and uncommon grandmothers are all independent women both financially and psychologically. The beauty of these grandmothers rests in their willingness to express a personal opinion on the current state of affairs, regardless of how old they get and how much their physical appearance declines.
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By the same token, in her more recent series Fairy Tales , the seductive nightmare of consumer culture is suggested through popular Japanese and Western European stories which simultaneously combine images of old and young women. The stereotypes of beauty are merely constructed on conventions of a pleasant appearance. One should be courageous in exhibiting these hidden evil desires, which are effectively in control.
Harakiri School Girls , and also tackles unsettling beauty as violence by mixing images of high-fashioned pretty school girls with images of the samurai practice of ritual suicide. The idea behind this shocking art piece is that women are simply consumer goods in a society of spectacle.
Where these young girls have been shot they release chocolate, strawberries and other juicy and kitsch things instead of blood. Knowledge of function affects the aesthetic appearance of the object. It is not an immediate pleasure we take in its apprehension, but a pleasure which arises from a reflective contemplation and deliberative thinking. It is always important to understand the function of the object we perceive.
Japanese Aesthetics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy/Winter Edition)
Difficult beauty has consequence in our lives in a way in which the beauty of mere appearance does not. Conclusion Beauty and political-critical art can go hand in hand. Truth is a lie; morality stinks; beauty is shit. And of course they are absolutely right. Equally, of course, they are wrong. Truth, morality and beauty are too important to be handed contemptuously over to the political enemy. How beauty looks is less noteworthy in comparison with what beauty does and means. The critical art of Yasumasa Morimura, Miwa Yanagi and Aida Makoto usually exhibits difficult beauties, queer beauties and obscure beauties which, nevertheless, do not seem to be pleasant at the first sight.
But all these strange-looking beauties comport themselves as a reminder for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. Something truly beautiful could be seen in many and, sometimes, even conflicting ways, but not as just an object of pleasure and contemplation. Works that do not look beautiful may turn out to be beautiful once we understand why we appreciate them.
Beauty is not meant merely to be looked at and to be pleasing because beauty can change something in the world if it changes something in the mind of the beholder.
Related Artistic Detachment in Japan and the West: Psychic Distance in Comparative Aesthetics
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