I was given 20 minutes at our last suiseki club meeting to give a presentation. My first thought was to give somewhat of a historical overview of stone collecting that started in China and progressed to Japan and then to the US. However, there was a subject that was to me perhaps more important to discuss and that was the Japanese aesthetic and how it influences the Japanese view of suiseki and other art forms as well.
Often in the US I hear people talk about how the Japanese “see” suiseki. That always puzzled me since often what I heard from collectors in Japan differed greatly from what I heard Americans convey about their view. This set me on a quest to try and understand how do the Japanese people really see suiseki or any art for that matter. It lead to a few weeks of research in regards to the Japanese aesthetic and frankly the start of a better understanding of their viewpoint.
Do we as Americans need to understand their view of art – I leave that answer up to you. I will state for us that I believe if we are going to pursue suiseki in the Japanese form, which many profess, then it becomes imperative to understand the Japanese perspective on how they view this art form.
I prepared 16 slides for this presentation. I understand that slides without being present is less than optimal but our hope is that this presentation encourages you to do more research for your self. We have listed a set of references that we used to help you quickly find authors with a much deeper understanding of this subject. Note: to truly understand the Japanese art aesthetic from my perspective requires being Japanese since it is so immersed in who they are not just what they like, so I say up front I understand so very little of this subject but do want to gain a better understanding.