ART AS CONTEMPLATIVE PLACE
WITH REFERENCE TO ISAMU NOGUCHI'S SITED WORKS

COLIN K. OKASHIMO
BLA, MA, PhD

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
AWARDED BY
CHELSEA COLLEGE OF ART & DESIGN
UNIVERSITY OF THE ARTS LONDON

MARCH 2007

Abstract

Art as Contemplative Place with Reference to Isamu Noguchi's Sited Works

The term contemplative place, a new concept that forms the core of this research is defined as "space where a meaningful sense of calm can be experienced."

Contemplative place situates itself as a category of place. M. Auge defines place as that which is "relational, historical and/or concerned with identity" (1995). For the artwork to be meaningful, it needs to be expressive and significant through its response to its physical, cultural, historical and/or social identity.

With reference to Isamu Noguchi's sited works, three projects are seen as representatively defining his career. They are The UNESCO Garden in France — Noguchi's early attempt at using the landscape as an art form; the California Scenario in the USA — a corporate park where Noguchi successfully creates a meaningful sense of place; and the Domon Ken Museum of Photography in Japan — a simple reductive approach that addresses its context on several levels.

Through the analysis and contextualisation of Noguchi's works, I begin to explore the strategic processes and principles that he used to make his works contemplative places. In my practice, I review and test evolving processes that incorporate the notions of place as well as my practice of meditation. Three case studies of past and current works are presented, each with a summary of analysis and a completed (or anticipated) experience. Then, through post-reflective thoughts, I begin to consolidate my own strategic processes and principles, and study how they have evolved and in some instances been influenced by Noguchi. As a final chapter, an evaluation addresses the similarities and differences between Noguchi's works and mine in achieving contemplative place.

The intention of this research is that the term contemplative place can be understood and evolve over time with future research. The strategic processes and principles used by Noguchi and those newly developed through my own practice could prove as useful examples to inspire new frontiers for creating contemplative places as art forms.