Ma is a primordial notion in Japanese culture and a leading principle in the Arts.
„Fundamentally, Ma is the interval which necessarily exists between two things which succeed each other: whence the idea of a pause.“ (in Augustin Berque, 1982).
In the West, space is represented in three dimensions. Time, which is separate, adds a fourth dimension: the evolution of space. This is a very specific, technical vision, which can be measured in reality.
In Japan, time and space are two indissociable elements forming one single fundamental element in two dimensions. Ma is the space-time in between. The evolution of a traditional Japanese room is an excellent example. Following the moments of the days, the furnishings change. Futons (bedding placed on the floor), dining room, study, games room, reception room: the elements in the room change (almost all are foldaway so they can be put away easily) in order to adapt. The place then becomes a succession of plans, images. The notion of Ma is the space between these plans/planes. A room in a house, the silence in a diction, the interval between two things or two states.
This is a very different vision from the Western one, where dimensions are judged, measured and understood independently. The Japanese have a general perspective on these dimensions rendered rhythmic by pauses or passing elements and transformation. Space is expressed via the succession of planes, each plane having its own timescale. This discontinuity enables (implies) that each moment (Plan) has its own reality, rules and reason. On a deeper level, this notion of Ma is a fundamental element in the behaviour of the Japanese. What seems to be (for a Westerner) at best a dichotomy, at worst generalised schizophrenia, is nothing but an adaptation to this vision. The notion of Ma is highly present in Kinbaku. It appears to be a fundamental element in its interpretation.
The preparations, the approach, the binding, the result, the play, unbinding, the preparation for the return of the model: each plane has a rhythm, a story. Each succession of planes/designs is as important as the plane itself. None of them seem to take on a greater importance, as they are distinct, discontinuous elements. The pauses, the blanks (notion à préciser) are primordial for the notion of Ma. A subtle understanding of Ma enables a modularity, a capacity for evolution, for movement of a Kinbaku. Ma seems to be fundamental element, or the fundamental element of Nawashi for adapting to the moment.
A moment of bondage is not linear, but marked by events that unfold with the rhythmical variation of movement, rope games, exchange and expectations. Breaking the monotony, Kinbaku, in its realisation, becomes a progression or journey, where the model loses any notion of time and space. The Nawashi through its flow, its vision of the whole, connects to its presence in the moment – it is the orchestral conductor of Ma. The combination of different planes and the sensitivity of the participants represents the real volume of Kinbaku, its depth.