Friday, July 2, 2010

Written Gesture

"The emergence in the early 1970s of the modern term kawaii かわいい coincides with the beginning of the cute handwriting craze . . . Large numbers of teenagers, especially women, began to write using a new style of childish characters." (Kinsella, Cuties in Japan, 1995)
Writers of burikko-ji (intentional child-writing) ぶりっ子 じ favored mechanical pencils for fine strokes of regular width in what Kinsella describes as an "underground literary trend amongst young people . . . writing . . . to one another and themselves."
The style eschews the nuanced strokes and hierarchically ordered calligraphic origins of Japanese kana, in it's place premiating schoolgirl simplicity and innocence, along with ready acceptance of mass-media typography.
Not coincidentally, Osaka architect Endo Shuhei cites traditional renmentai 連綿 たい cursive kana script, as a source for his paramodern architecture ( wherein the ma  間 interval between kana, forms a "weak construct" flexible enough to allow one character (or architectural element) to be continuous with another (the roof-becomes-wall-becomes-floor). Renmentai was considered on'nade 女手 or "woman's writing" in traditional Japan.

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