Abstract

In a literal sense, the word ma (間) means “interval” or “gap.” With considerable enthusiasm, since the early 1960s, Japanese thinkers and design practitioners have developed ma into an abstract and spiritual concept. With the use of interpretive research and ethnographic methods, this article explores how ma, commonly understood as ambiguity, has been deeply appreciated in Japanese culture. To find out more about ma, the author interviewed Nagai Kazumasa and Sugiura Kohei, the two eminent Japanese Design Movement (JDM) poster designers, in their Tokyo design offices in 2008. Specifically, from a case study research of one of Sugiura's renowned works, the author found that the concept of ma has been elevated by Sugiura to a religio-aesthetic and spiritual status. Sugiura has used ma as both medium and message in maintaining his intellectual and artistic position in Japan and Asia.

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