What Is Street Photography?
New York Neon

Thoughts on Wabi Sabi and Street Art

IMG_1512I am intrigued by the concept of Wabi-sabi (佗寂?) which Wikipedia defines as that which represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete". It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence (三法印 sanbōin?), specifically impermanence (無常 mujō?), the other two being suffering (苦 ku?) and emptiness or absence of self-nature (空 kū?).

Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.

It reminds me of what I am trying to achieve in my street art photography. I seek to capture of the impermance of street art and graffiti and how the very nature of that art, with its asymmetry and imperfections can continue to change over time.


Wabi Sabi also addresses the idea of "Ruin Porn" which photographers such as Marchand and Meffre employ to such beautiful perfection... or int he case of Wabi Sabi, imperfection.


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