Reflections on Diplomacy

In 1994, at Inakadate, Japan, farmers seeking ways to attract tourists invented “rice paddy art”[1] – art that would put Chinese conceptual artist A Wei Wei to shame. Here is an example:

                 

Farmers use four kinds of (different coloured) rice seedlings to create the effect; the picture is destroyed at harvest. The field hands no longer use their imagination and memory – but a computer printout – in order to decide where to plant which kind of seedling. My sources are coy as to who does the work, but I suspect it is women.

There is no end to human creativity: our inherent ability to use enablers – here rice seedlings – first to imagine, and then bring to fruition, a vision that serves emotional (and, yes, also financial) goals.

Art needs no self-aggrandizing “genius” to emerge: just common people seeking new ways to…

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