Between Emblem and Ornament: Text in Calligraphy, Book Design, and Architecture of Shirai Seiichi
Maki Iisaka, Texas A&M University
As an architect, Shirai Seiichi had an obsessive and unorthodox interest in the aesthetic and semantic possibilities of text. This obsession came to define a key common element across his diverse artistic endeavors from drawing and building to book design and Japanese calligraphy, all of which he treated as architectural projects grounded in the uprightness of the body. I will examine how Shirai incorporated text into his works and analyze its effects as ornament, sign, and architectural object within the postwar context of both the writing reforms in the Japanese language and the tradition debate among Japanese architects. I will argue that Shirai deliberately did not seek a synthesis of form, experience, and content but rather exploited the potential of disjunction to forge an original creation that he believed appealed to a Japanese aesthetic sensibility.