Wednesday 8 November 2017

Seaguls Are Beautiful Too

The seagul coasts through space with wings open for a few moments then flaps its wings again to maintain altitude. I observe the smooth flight trajectory and the indifference written on the birds face. But who is watching? I think what I see is real but it's a two-dimensional image with the illusion of depth processed in the brain. Movement never stops like a photograph, never. Light is fast but still takes time to travel. The stars we see at night are proof. Someone standing below has a different view of the event. Why should I classify it as an "event"? When did it start and end? Thoughts say "event happened". Thoughts are not mine, we share them as a species like currency is traded and circulated. But there is more. There must be more - the beauty of the bear taking a stroll, the whale out of reach in the deep waters of the ocean, peace and joy when the brain is calm and alert.

Another seagul coasts across my zone of visual attention, the fleeting movement is not recorded as the mind relaxes into the depth of silence. Here movement and sound merge. The separations dissolve, nothing is watching, the seagul is not a seagul, the earth spins fast, the wind stirs and blends, the gas and solids share their symbiotic agreement, the trees sway unconditionally supported by the surrounding air, I inhale easy and exhale next. Gravity is sucking me down toward the exact center point of the earth, a point so exact that it cannot be marked, it cannot take space. Does it even exist?

~ • ~

The spine of the bear, the flight of the bird, the apple on the table;
Social interaction, chemicals of positivity and negativity;
Timeless being, freely moving, gracefully silent.

This is "Behind The Wood Forms". Thank you for reading. 
Wood forms can be viewed and purchased at:

Arch No.2 - in Yellow Cedar - 2017

Thursday 2 November 2017

Good And New Tools Over Mediocre Fish and A Side

Just as human beings evolved with their technology and tools over thousands of years the evolution of my craft also evolved with the tool collection. Without a vise how can you use a draw knife? What are the physical requirements for a shave horse?

Image from:

 I needed a workbench/surface. I saw the Japanese traditional surface which was close to the ground to be used kneeling. I had a 5"X5" cedar post off-cut about 3' long. I saw cut a groove to accept a stop which is piece of wood to fit in the groove which projects above the surface to keep the work piece from moving in one direction. With this simple device, I could get to work. I could saw, plane and carve against the stop. Without a drill or brace, I was left nailing pieces together or joining them with tight fitting joints. I should mention, I decided to work with hand tools rather than electric tools at the beginning because I wanted to learn those skills masterfully. I have since realized the joy of working with non-powered tools - quite a profound and unique feeling indeed.

This starting-from-scratch approach to tool acquisition appealed to me greatly because I saw it as a sort of complicated problem solving project. In other words, I valued the process and took it slowly intentionally in order not to cheat myself of the valuable learning process gained with each step of this "evolution".

 At a certain point I decided to start investing in good and new tools. I compared acquiring a tool to eating at a restaurant and taking chances on the fish or chicken! It was always an easy decision to spring for the long lasting, very useful tool which provides joy and the facilitation of high quality work. There are quite a lot of tools necessary to meet the minimum requirements to make fine objects. It seemed every time I had a new project there was another tool I needed. But I knew that it was the right thing to do and eventually this process slowed down and I am left today with the collection of necessary tools which I invested in along the way. It's a collection that suits me and my work and has become a natural extension of my hand! I would love to go into more detail, so stay tuned for future blogs on the subject of tools.
One example: I bought a block plane from Lie-Nielson,...
Image source:

...springing for the unfavorable exchange rate from US to Canadian and UPS brokerage fee (which was a surprise) only to find that it was faulty. I sent it back and waited weeks for the return taking every precaution necessary to avoid being charged import taxes and the broker fees. I got mistakenly taxed again and had to file for a refund. All the while, I knew that all of this was worth it. I was correct. This properly tuned tool allows for fine work to be done. It has served me very well and having it in my collection is of great value to me.

Thanks for reading.

The abstract sculptures can always be found at:

Visit for a comprehensive presentation of my artwork in a variety of media

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Dead Serious Artwork

I am dead serious.

A quote from "The Book of Mirdad" by Mikhail Naimy: "Die to live, or live to die."

Let me explain: "Die to live" refers to the dying of the ignorant mind, the mind of confusion, distortion, fragmentation, etc; the dying of which results in an abiding in the realm of pure energy (so to speak). This is the "treat" of the "trick or treat" : ) (Scary All Hallow's Eve!) The "trick" or less desirable of the two choices is "live to die". This refers to living a life that is constantly shadowed by our idea of death which stems from the totality of unrealistic psychological "fears" common in human beings. This is usually occurring at a subconscious level. Living this way must inevitably prevent the "dying to live" from taking place. So, a recognition of this subconscious fear of mortality is a prerequisite for living free of psychological restraints.

I will talk about Krishnamurti's contributions. Jiddu Krishnamurti talks of seriously looking at what is. Without first seeing clearly (without the interference/screen of the egoic mind/thought mind) the state of all things material (thought is considered material because it is a mechanical process in the field of physical time/motion - albeit a fast process (sometimes : ) ) ) one cannot proceed to penetrate into the depths of our inquiry into the true nature of reality. He often points out that as human beings, we must first start very very close in our inquiry. That closeness refers to the "me - the ego". If we are to understand the universe we must definitely first understand the human being but this is prevented by the fragmented way of seeing caused by the first fragmentation of the egoic mind "me and you". To see the fact of the ego in a "timeless" instant requires a total collection of energy, this gathering would not be possible without a certain seriousness or sense of urgency to "look".  If for no other reason, the man's work must be given proper attention due to the fact that he spent his entire career reiterating the same fundamental message - a message which, if not rooted in a true personal, factual, experiential understanding, the incessant transmission of which would not be possible to endure!

I have not transcended the egoic mind - I am a prisoner as of yet - but I would be lying if I said I have not tasted the fruits being offered. Perhaps this taste has encouraged the seriousness. I take this seriousness into my sketches of abstract form - poetry of line, contour, mass. I earnestly seek forms to awe, inspire, intrigue and to stimulate a sense of mystery - a mystery felt by fellow humans. I hope to establish connections with others through communication in the universal language of form - forms that touch the depths of human reality; prior to all culture, nations, tribes and war.

This is behind the wood forms. Thank you for reading.

Sunday 15 October 2017

Slingshot through time and space: a poem

Slingshot through time and space 
 by Mike Sasaki

My friend is a slingshot and I am the stone.
Afraid he'll propel me toward the unknown,
I look to my side, there's a wandering star.
Quickly it passes and soon its afar.
Onward I go through the densely knit ferns
Keeping feet off the ground so they don't get burned.
I shall not resist as I soar through the air.
Am I dreaming or dying? There's no time to care.
The black hole approaches but where do I go?
Am I travelling through time or the cosmic window?
What do I know? And where am I going?
The outer world stops and I feel like I'm glowing.
The ears are now plugged and silence does reign.
The endless low humming mutes slightly the pain.
To feel the existence of being located here
Would be like travelling afar yet coming back near.
I wake and die together I flow
Through the glass of no window.

MikeSasakiWoodForms - online shop

Monday 2 October 2017

Impeccably Clean Interior

The speaker outside was blasting an announcement, "Pre-pare for war!". Little Fred turned inside away from the window and sought the comfort of his abode. All white walls, impeccably clean, minimal furniture, very familiar for the young boy of 12.

His kitchen was always kept in order with systematic discipline, washing dishes right after dinner without enough time to sit and digest what was eaten. It was here that he felt most at ease. Taking a seat at the table he looked at his watch, a quarter to twelve. Almost time to prepare for lunch. Annoyed at the announcements from outside he got up and shut the windows tightly and drew the blinds. He did not have time for war.

He decided to make canned spaghetti for lunch. It was his favourite and it could be delivered to him by the box load at his command. He kept them neatly arranged in the cupboard above the stove and ordered new stock when he was down to 10 cans.

He wanted to take a walk this afternoon but the sirens and announcements on the emergency speakers would be too loud for his walk - he would not be able to ignore those.

By 4:30 pm the commotion outside amounted to a state of incredible chaos. Cars were smashing into each other and people were running around in the streets shouting incomprehensible protests and warnings seemingly into the sky. This rise in energy was felt by Fred up on the 12th floor of his building - not so much audibly but rather through an interference with his inner sanity. He could not enjoy his afternoon at home any longer. Frustrated and put-off he escaped into his bedroom where he could at least have more space between himself and the white walls. He sat on the wooden floor on a thin leather mat and stared at the northern wall. Since the blinds were closed he had the bright ceiling light turned on and the empty wall shone with an orange-yellow hue. He could no longer consider it white and that upset him further. He felt an unfamiliar rage starting to build up from inside his gut and he sprang up from the deer skin mat almost slipping on it but catching himself with his other leg. Now physically stable he thought quickly. He ran to the washroom where he kept the only object he could hang on the wall in his whole home. He opened the cupboard and hastily reached for the plastic mask. He stumbled back into his bedroom and taped it on the wall to distract him from the taunting off-white tint. Again he sat down in the center of the room and stared at the mask hanging on the wall.

The mask was given to him as a gift when he was in first grade. He never knew what to do with it until now. It was a thin plastic factory made mask with rough holes cut out for the eyes. The eyes looked half shut and the edges of the holes were painted black. The nose was a small and insignificant bump and the mouth was coloured lipstick red and expressionless.

Fred felt his irritation sizzle down like a skillet taken off the fire and allowed to cool. As sleep began to take over his body his eyes started to close but he kept them fixed on the object of salvation on the distant wall. Falling asleep in a seated position he began to dream.

He was running fast and straight through a field of corn. He tripped and went flying into the air, soaring above the field. He looked up into the clouds and his body followed. Up and up he went, higher and higher into the vast emptiness of the sky. The missile made contact and he was done.

Monday 4 September 2017

Kimonos With A Bass Line

It was a hot, dry day. The Japanese matsuri (summer festival) was into its second and final day. The event was well organized and running smoothly. I squeezed my way into the stage area which was flooding with people. I managed to get a position against the wall between two others. The kimono fashion show was about half-way through.

The lanterns hung from across one wooden post to the other and were swaying gently from the indoor air movement. The auditorium was set up to reflect a traditional street festival. The attention from the audience could be felt like a cloud of invisible gas rising from the seating area. The bass was pulsing steadily as the ornate traditional kimonos were being watched patiently.

The scene was set up as a changing room, with a lady in a kimono having her hair styled and the other lady having her kimono checked. The scene ran for too long without much change in activity. The music pulsed continuously. When the scene was over, one of the ladies wearing a kimono was visible chatting with a friend just outside the door of the auditorium after she exited the stage. The "real" backstage scene was now visible providing an extension of the already long scene.

A baby started wailing. The mother hustled out through the dense crowd to put an end to the disruption. Her face was pinched toward the middle in stress from the guilt. The surrounding onlookers could feel a sort of dull collective agreement about the illustrative style of the situation.

Maybe the peripheral activity provided slightly more entertainment than the show at that point. There was a loud bang the people around me looked toward the back of the room. Measuring six people down from where I was standing a balloon was stepped on. It was like the bursting balloon was an unplanned expression of our thoughts breaking the silent patience of our watching: "Let's put an end to this pulsing bass - the kimonos are beautiful - but the bass must end."

 (I have to mention here that although I make a poke at the show for the sake of humour, this was only one aspect of the show. In its entirety, the presentation was clearly a product of much work and effort. The kimonos really were stunning and the show was well done. There was much to be enjoyed and appreciated. When I clapped at the end - it was sincere.)

Mike Sasaki's wood forms can always be seen at

Friday 1 September 2017

Alone, We Are Community

I was new to Japan. I had been in Tokyo for about 6 months before leaving the shared apartment and finding a place alone. There was a place advertised in an english magazine to accommodate foreigners, and I went to check it out. To my surprise, it was tucked behind a traditional shopping street. The room was shockingly small, the toilet was shared, the shower was coin operated but the rent was reasonable and I was delighted with the neighbourhood so I could not turn it down.

Togoshi-ginza, a small shoutengai (show-ten- eng. "guy") or shopping street neighbourhood, was lined with shops ranging from modern to traditional. Yaki-tori (yah-kee-toree) or barbecued chicken parts, more than a few ramen shops and bean filled pastry shops were placed amongst convenience stores, pharmacies and fast food. This was good.

Wandering around this maze of greatness I happened upon a lunch board sign pointing inward - down a side street off a main intersecting street. Suddenly, I was no longer alone. I was greeted cordially and invited to have a healthy lunch. Mama-san the proprietress upheld an atmosphere of festivity and community. It was like walking into a pocket of raw life off the cement infrastructure outside. Only later would I find just how related that local izakaya was to the streets (maybe outlined in a later blog posting).

I was invited back for dinner by a new acquaintance - soon to become client. After dinner, I was invited to stay and chat with the other locals. I was looking for a martial art to practice and Namiki-san was practicing Shorinji Kempo. We moved some tables and he twisted my wrist to demonstrate the art. He assured me that he was not yet too skilled and the technique was more effective than it seemed.

This was how I found Shorinji Kempo - a modern martial art developed post world war two as a means to uplift a nation in turmoil. It has since grown to an international scale and is now practiced in many other countries around the world. The founder Doshin Sou took some traditional martial arts as technical foundation, such as Kung-fu and Aikido, and built a disciplinary structure on it. The new martial art combined spiritual aspects, bone alignment, healthiness, philosophy and technique into the discipline which was to be practiced both inside and outside the dojo.

Shorinji Kempo will provide a ladder for any individual wishing to grow into a stronger, healthier, happier human being. It requires a commitment and focus. Having completed the early stages of this martial art, I have been fortunate to receive some of its benefits. By studying the self-defense techniques involving the exact placement of your body and the opponent's, a sense of awareness of the proximate environment is nourished. The goal is not to harm the attacker but rather to temporarily and safely disable them thus controlling the situation. This is achieved through arrests and locks using the pressure points of the body to facilitate the manoeuvres. Understanding that the wrong-doer who you are controlling is confused in their action prevents any negative emotional reaction on the controller's part. There must be inner calm during outer action in order to effectively utilize the techniques in a real life situation.

Practicing Shorinji Kempo has influenced my art. It helped confirm my growing suspicion that many (not all) of the values we subconsciously pick up from popular films, tv, radio, music, etc. work to reinforce qualities of greed, selfishness, pleasure-seeking, envy and social comparison. An episode of a popular sitcom makes light of a situation of envy that we can relate to. This subconsciously works to encourage the same feelings in the viewer by engaging with their natural instinct to fall in with the crowd. The medium of film can exploit the same story telling technique. The viewer is inclined to adopt those ideologies and values demonstrated on screen that are associated with something desirable. For example: greed for fancy property turns into lasting emotional fulfillment. One of the features of my "Symbiosis" line of wood forms is to support the idea that it is important to remember the natural beauty on this earth and our connection to it thereby allowing us to flourish in the community. The forms are carved from wood using simple yet dynamic curves and contours, which are connected in a flowing way. I strive to inspire a sense of inward connection to nature and community through contemplation so as to provide encouragement of the fruitful states of mind that we may often forget over the course of a day. The forms are designed to be placed in spots where they can influence the immediate atmosphere of the space by providing a presence of mystery, silence and inner-reward.

The sculptures can always be found at

Wednesday 30 August 2017

The Music Plays Non-Stop

It is said that Murakami Haruki, the author of 'Norwegian Wood", loved jazz and it influenced his writing. I would describe his work as having a strong element of surrealism to it but more predominant is his flow of story. One structure he has used is: alternating stories in sequential chapters, back and forth, back and forth. They are distinctly separate stories narrative-wise but undoubtedly they are related in other less obvious ways. Those ways are part of the flow, because the reader must feel the writing and make their own connections over the course of the book. These connections, whether they are emotional, subconscious or intuitive, paint the reader's experience.

Blues, a predecessor of jazz, started from the "calls and answers" pattern.

The not so rare condition of synesthesia transfers stimuli between different senses. Without being diagnosed with this condition, there is still an intuitive connection between colours, form and music. Red is harsh, etc.

I keep thinking of the drums in Africa because it is so simple and pure. It is like the essence of music - percussive rhythm in the open air. It is such an integral part of most if not all cultures. The time allotted for music is intermittently structured over the course of our living.

The man with headphones on the train wants to hear that particular music at that particular time - to pass the time, to enjoy, to uplift. We set music for our background at coffee shops or during dinner. Music is an integral part of a good film. The hammering of the construction work is not in rhythm so it is not enjoyable. Stomp, the famous show, puts these noises into a musical framework and it is blissful.

I study music theory from time to time and implement it in my ongoing improvisational piano playing. I learn the structures of harmony and intervals. I test it out, add it in. I develop an understanding for the tonal relationships. This musical testing is playing in the distant background of my awareness as I sketch forms on paper, as I carve forms from wood, as I make bridges between the parts of a sculpture through the use of curves and contours.

The wood forms can always be seen at:

Tuesday 29 August 2017

Praising Social Media

I sit here eating dinner-dumpling soup at my computer, on a cushion (Japanese style) with the fan blowing to keep this hot 3rd floor apartment in Surrey, BC tolerable. You could feel the intensity of the sun this evening as I walked home from the nearby Starbucks attached to the mall across the street. As I write Chiha is on the balcony trying to catch a breeze.

I contemplate the day filled with social media activity. I started having a reaction to social media about 6 years ago when I decided to close down my Facebook account due to inactivity and a sense of irresponsibility that went with its lack of use. I felt I could not devote the amount of time it took to properly attend to it. About 2 months ago it was time for me to open an Instagram account. I had to be convinced strongly to begin using it by a friend and teacher. Before that night came to a close I was a changed man. My ideas built around the platform were mostly false and my experience using it was different then anything I had expected. But that was enough for me. Just one was good - I could take full command over its use and it did not consume more of my time then I was willing to give. Then there was today - I wrote my first blog, signed up for Facebook with a new account, and I am an active tweeter. This is where I sit tonight.

I reestablished connections with people I had not contacted in years. I communicated with strangers from across the globe, people that yesterday I did not know existed - people that I could connect with not only due to the technology but also the subject. I did not anticipate such "traveling" when I woke up this morning. We are living in extraordinary times - really extraordinary. I contemplate this and I have gratitude in my humility - knowing I had false ideas.

 The wood forms can always be seen at:

What "Behind The Wood Forms" blog is all about

A Blog About Sculptural Wood Forms Gets Its Debut

How can one write about sculptures alone? The link between the art and the life is full of interesting stories and experiences to share. This blog will be the background in my artistic journey as I create these wood forms. It will present the connection of the living with the sculpting. After all, to get the inspiration to keep creating abstract forms, there must be some source for the passion. That's what this blog is all about.

Stay tuned...

The wood forms can always be found at: