Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Invisible Ninja Sculptures for the Blind

Great sculptures are not made by what’s left behind, but by what the artist has taken away.
  (+60, -2)(+60, -2)(+60, -2)
(+60, -2)
  [vote for,

“Tapping his cane in front of him, the old blind man enters the room. In the centre of the room, unseen by the old man, stands a figure swathed in black who holds a long bamboo staff. The old man advances, tenuously at first, swinging his cane before him as he steps towards the dark, silent figure. Suddenly, in the instant between one footfall and the next, the black-clad man springs forward and, flicking his staff deftly around his body, checks the old man’s cane with a speed and precision that almost defies belief. The two stand there for a moment – the black figure statuesque in his stillness: the old man looking slightly puzzled…”

At once the most esoteric and physically demanding form of performance art ever conceived, Invisible Ninja Sculpture is practiced only by an elite few. Simultaneously training intensively in arts both martial and aesthetic, the masters of this particular discipline spend years honing their unique skills.

After perhaps decades spent perfecting their sculpting skills, each adherent eventually produces a single piece which they consider to be their masterpiece, the very pinnacle of their art. When this point is reached, the artefact is re-created time and time again in different scales, materials and using different techniques.

Meanwhile, in parallel with this exacting regime, the sculptors also undertake a punishing regimen of martial arts training, focussing in particular on staff fighting. With an emphasis on blocking rather than attacking.

Finally, after years of effort and preparation, these two disciplines come together in a dynamic yet contemplative art form. By this time, the sculptor literally knows his masterpiece inside-out – every curve, every plane, every tiny feature of his work is ingrained in his memory as solidly as stone. And, thanks to his ninja-like staff-swinging skills, he is able to breathe life into his creation in a very unique way.

“The old man lifts his cane from the sculptor’s staff and taps it into the air slightly to the right. Again the sculptor’s staff swiftly whispers through the air, stopping dead mere millimetres before it would have crashed into the blind man’s cane. Slowly the old man walks around the room, feeling his way with his stick, sometimes swinging through empty air, but, with greater and greater frequency, finding the sculptor’s staff.

The artist himself moves around the old man in utter silence with the suppleness of a dancer. At times he catches the old man’s stick with his own, and, through careful manipulation, causes the cane to describe a specific curve as the two slide against each other.

Eventually, without ever being conscious of the presence of the sculptor, the blind man gradually builds up a picture in his head of the artist’s insubstantial masterwork. Through these fleeting contacts the sculptor passes his vision into the imagination of the other – whilst to the sighted spectator, all that’s happening is a strangely unbalanced kind of stick-to-stick combat…”


lostdog, Jun 19 2004

(?) Zatoichi http://www.chinastr....com/blindintro.htm
[robinism, Jan 28 2005]

Ask a Ninja http://www.askaninja.com/
[Eugene, May 08 2006]


DesertFox, Jun 19 2004

       Beautiful concept, but what if the blind person drops their stick and tries to feel the sculpture with their hands?
oxen crossing, Jun 19 2004

       Good point, OC. A recipe for cracked knuckles if ever there was one.   

       Or the sculptor could just silently run away, adding a David Copperfield-type slant to the experience.
lostdog, Jun 20 2004

       Ah, you truly understand the heart of art. Indeed, also the heart of the way of the ninja. Except why do people always associate the word yatta with ninjas?   

       Friggin' A.
harderthanjesus, Jun 20 2004

       World class.
FarmerJohn, Jun 20 2004

krelnik, Jun 20 2004


       Sorry, I'll need to read it again perhaps.
waugsqueke, Jun 20 2004

       Me too :(
Pericles, Jun 20 2004

       Sorry if the explanation's none too clear.   

       Basically, the artist has the entire sculpture mapped out to the tiniest detail in his head. Due to his unrealistic staff-wielding skills, whenever he sees that the blind man's cane is about to come into contact with where his sculpture would be, he is able to get his staff there first. The cane hits the staff, and the blind man believes that he is tapping against an actual solid sculpture.   

       It might help if you imagine that the room is dark, and that a tiny light appears in the air wherever the staff and cane make contact. Eventually, after he has tapped his way around the room for a bit, these lights will (almost in a dot-to-dot kind of way) form the original sculpture that the (now rather sweaty) artist originally conceived.   

       God knows what they'd sell in the gift shop, though.
lostdog, Jun 20 2004

       I realize all this hinges on the ability of an artist to create an avatar with the ability to wield a staff silently and to a degree of precision far and away beyond that of a blind sparring partner. I must be naive, as I cannot see beyond that definition.
dpsyplc, Jun 20 2004

       Unique :) But complicated parts of the sculpture might require more than one staff.
Detly, Jun 20 2004

       Can you describe that in 2 paragraphs?
energy guy, Jun 21 2004

       Um... s/he just did.
Worldgineer, Jun 21 2004

       Well done. I'd give you more than one if I could. [+]
yabba do yabba dabba, Jun 21 2004

       I am agog. +   

       I don't think it loses anything if the blind spectator *knows* what's going on--which solves the problem of what happens if he starts feeling for it with his hands.
Etymon, Jun 21 2004

       a true masterpiece indeed! [+]
Urban Kayaker, Jun 21 2004

       The artist could also be blind...   

       "In some martial arts schools, advanced students are taught fighting techniques while blindfolded in order to develop a kind of secondary sensory accuracy. The implication is that when one loses the sense of sight, the other senses will become more enhanced and will compensate for the loss of vision. That is why Zatoichi tilted his head in the rain, to focus on his enemy using his heightened sense of hearing. Japanese folklore tells of how the Ninja trained blindfolded until they were able to move about and fight naturally in complete darkness. They were called the Shadow Warriors. "
robinism, Jun 21 2004

       The artist's staff should be textured so that if the blind person runs their stick up or down once it has made contact, the surface texture of the 'piece' can be conveyed. Speaking to a blind collegue at work, he thought it was a great idea but he didn't think his dog would enjoy it as much.
oneoffdave, Jun 22 2004

       This requires that only one blind person at a time be allowed to approach the 'sculpture'. Or maybe the artist can cope with several audience members at once? They can do it in the films...

Otherwise, wow, have a virtual ninja croissant.
English Bob, Jun 22 2004

       After reading this about 4 times, I finally get it. And I have to marvel at what sort of mind can conceive such a notion! +
simonj, Jun 22 2004

       Now, it would be even better if you could get 2 or 3 ninjas to know the 'sculpture' in the same position and size, then you could have more that one blind 'spectator' participate! I want to know how you came up with such a cool idea tho'!(+)
Weirdo55, Jun 22 2004

       I do Wing Chun (a form of Kung Fu) and it is true that as your ability grows, you should be able to perform the martial art blindfolded, because the technique prioritises touch and reflex over actually being able to see your opponent.   

       English Bob, that would differentiate the grandmaster ninja sculptors from the lesser skilled ninja sculptors.   

       I can't help but feel as though I awarded most of my croissant to this guy's brilliant writing skills
spiritualized, Jun 22 2004

       Cheers [spiritualized].
spacemoggy, Jun 22 2004

       Heheheh... :)
spiritualized, Jun 22 2004

       This idea is teh ghey. Fish for you.
TheJeff, Jun 22 2004

       This vote will appear as a croissant when you look next. +
sartep, Jun 22 2004

       Both performance art and sculpture. I'd pay to watch. Or feel. Or something.   

       A new Turner Prize entry?
RayfordSteele, Jun 22 2004

       Why do I get the feeling that the above passage of text wasn't written by [lostdog]? It's one of two situations:   

       A) He wrote it, which probably took an extreme amount of time and effort to find the right words to describe it, in which situation he should step away from his computer, go outside, and get a life.   

       B) He found it somewhere and copy-and-pasted it, rendering the idea and text both stolen.   

       Either way, you can't come out looking good, at least. not in my eyes. Regardless, if you did write this, I must say that you have an obvious talent for words...put that skill to use, my friend.   

       I can't decide whether to give you a negative vote to teach you a stern lesson or to stay neutral...all in all, I can't see people lining up to visit an exhibit like this....I'll be gentle and stick with a neutral [+-]
Pocketassreturn, Jun 23 2004

       Hmm, I like this it sounds like one of my wacky mindfarts. It may be a masterpiece if it was done in cartoon anime style because then it could be done.   

       However, back to reality ;) maybe one would need to line the staff with owls feathers to stop it swooshing. Or even better make it a performing art by using a glow in the dark staff.   

       Then, and (this is where it comes together) use a camera with a long exposure time so that by the time the blind man had explored the sculpture the ninja's staff has traced optically the form of his scultpture providing a photo of a fuzzy light sculpture. I am sure this could be incorporated into a hologram. (this would be a boon for the visually unimpaired)   

       The beuty of a non existing sculpture is it requires no supports ;)   

       I can percieve various difficulties of sculpture, starting with the cube. A sphere might be tricky but only a real ninja master can conquer the jail bars as the blind man rattles his cane along them.   

       Oh no I have just percieved a non existing prison! how would he know! unless he decided to hold the bars ;) Ah ninja plays prison guard too, crack on the nuckles with staff, "Hands off the bars pal" he'd soon learn. Then he'd never know. Just leave a harmonica in the room too...   

       oneoffdave, you killed me laughing about the dog!   

       Pocketassreturn, is it not possible to accept that some people can create literary masterpieces without plagiarism and yet with ease; some people are inclined that way.   

       Definate positive lostdog +
not-arf, Jun 23 2004

       Pocket. Honestly. Why would someone else write something like that? Go read his others. Then, hey, how 'bout YOU take a big walk away from YOUR computer? Weiner.
lintkeeper2, Jun 23 2004

       Thanks for the kind words, guys.   

       Pocket: that was a pretty nasty allegation - so much so that I'm not going to bother responding to it. On the whole, it's one of the most mean-spirited annotations I've read in a long time. As to your only comment on the actual substance of the idea - //I can't see people lining up to visit an exhibit like this// - leaving aside the (obviously unintentional) pun, it should be clear from the idea description that it's not exactly a work intended for a mass audience. But if that's what you think, then that's fair comment.   

       But from this and a few other of your annos, I almost get the feeling that you're going out of your way to make people dislike you. Again: fair enough. Can't understand it myself, but that's your perogative. Knock yourself out, dude.
lostdog, Jun 23 2004

       Pocket: You broke your account page promise after only one day.
FarmerJohn, Jun 23 2004

       [all of you] I'm not going out of my way to make people dislike me. I don't go out of my way to offend people either. After reading what I wrote, I realize that [lostdog] can't help but be offended.   

       But when you really look at this situation, you have to consider: are you guys giving a positive vote on the idea, or the way it's presented? In my opinion, it's mostly the latter. And in addition, it seems that you all ignored the compliment I gave about his/her writing style. There's clear skill there, but I can't help but feel that it's possibly used to woo people in the direction of a positive vote.   

       I know I made a promise not to be such an asshole anymore...and I do intend to stick to it. Sometimes I get carried away, and anyway, that anno was made at about 3 in the morning, so I wasn't thinking too clearly, and wasn't really considering whether I was being polite or not.   

       But in response to what a lot of you said, I have to say that it's not good to add fuel to a fire. You think that by calling me a 'weiner' or saying that I'm jealous is making me feel like I need to act nice to you people? No, it's not.   

       I apologize for saying that, and I want to say that I don't go out of my way to be evil, sometimes I just get carried away. If you look at some of my other annos, you can see my sense of humor and intelligence at work. So, considering that, I guess that's all I have to say.
Pocketassreturn, Jun 23 2004

       I did register the compliment, Pocket, but felt it to be so backhanded that it was almost like a slap in the face. I appreciate you saying it wasn't meant that way, but I hope you can see how I was so quick to take offense.   

       Still, it's hard to disentangle an idea from the way it's presented. Here I've read some bad ideas well put, and some good ideas badly stated. I do what I can to put my ideas across in the best possible light I can manage.   

       I hope you'll agree that this was a bit of a tricky one to describe, Pocket. All the more so because I wasn't just trying to explain the mechanism behind the idea, but also hinting at the motivations behind it.   

       Obviously you didn't like it - that's fair enough. Still, I'm not going to apologize for doing my best to describe it. If I was meant to take your last post as a compliment, then I'll take this one as an apology.
lostdog, Jun 24 2004

       FWIW, I was wondering too when lostdog was going to get a life. It's all true, but too good to be.   

       As for where the idea came from, i know that when they teach shotokan karate, you have to learn all these kata--choreographed fighting moves that you have to perform just right. Only after you can do a few perfectly they explain that the moves are about an imaginary fight that's the same every time. So you're doing all this kicking and punching in the air two steps this way, one step back turn kick block punch punch on and on, but it's really a specific shape, you could do it blindfolded, so you could say it's like karate fighting a sculpture, sort of.   

       Anyway, that is from karate, there are probably kata things like that in other martial arts, and i'd bet lost dog has done something like that.   

       As for writing, lostdog is definitely creative but he isn't that easy to understand, in my book, which to me is a big part of good writing. He still writes way better than me, so don't worry.   

       What do I actually think of the idea? Kind of silly. I agree with pocket boy, more of a creative sell than a good idea. Have you ever heard of polishing a turd?
igirl, Jun 24 2004

       Brilliant idea, brilliantly described. Personally, I don't think that [PAR] has even understood it. Ninja star shaped croissants for you my canine friend.
BTW, in regard to the rendering of very complex structures, may a politely suggest that a whole cohort of ninja be employed. The resulting artistic and coodinated display would probably be as aesthetically pleasing to a sighted audience as it would to the blind person or persons taking part, and would create a whole new aspect on the work.
goff, Jun 24 2004

       Unbelievable. Jaw-droppingly awe-inspiring. Excellent thought experiment. If only I had more than one immaterially perceptible croissant to give.
absterge, Jun 24 2004

       As much as I don't wish to prolong the banter over [PAR]s comment, I can't help but add my thoughts: while Ninja Sculpture is well written, I find its quality becomes apparent after the words are forgotten, and only an image remains in my mind; a very visual concept of two unordinary people engaged in an strange and compelling exchange of motion.   

       No matter how well [lostdog] were to describe a steaming pile of dog poo, it would still be dog poo, and not appropriate for this forum. Good writing alone cannot attract votes.
oxen crossing, Jun 24 2004

       Ah, the return of the pocket ass. Alsways sooner than you expect...   

       I am a humbly devoted fan, [lostdog]. +
k_sra, Jun 24 2004

       This seriously kicks ass. Which could be a pun, if you wish to see it as such.
Tabbyclaw, Jul 18 2004

       You know that thing where you suddenly think of a witty riposte to something that was said days (if not weeks) before?   

       [oneoffdave] - maybe if the sculptor threw his stick every once in a while the guide dog would enjoy the experience as much as his master.   

       Sorry. Had to get that off my chest.
lostdog, Jul 26 2004

       Big croissant.
calum, Jan 28 2005

       I just love this one. Wish I could vote again.
zigness, May 08 2006

       [lostdog] this was one of the first ideas I ever saw here at the 1/2 bakery - it made me realise that this place was something special then, and it's still one of my favourites today.   

       In short, 'tis a true HB classic by which other ideas should be measured, by banging them with a stick.
zen_tom, May 08 2006

       Hah, my first idea that I read here was Centripetal Space Junk Drive; a seriously warped idea about using frogs for space propulsion.
DesertFox, May 08 2006

       This is by far the best idea I have discovered on the bakery. It almost makes me weep. It deserves to be in the top 10 without a doubt.
theleopard, Jan 13 2007

       This is fucking down. I mean, this shit is down. Like a blunt with yayo. [+]
monk, Mar 19 2007

       Excellent. I like the fact that it works for a blind person interacting with the 'sculpture', and also for sighted people watching the graceful, dance-like interaction between the blind person and the ninja as it teasingly throws out clues as to the nature of the 'sculpture'.
hippo, Mar 19 2007

       [monk, I think your keyboard may be broken - your last anno reads:
//This is fucking down. I mean, this shit is down. Like a blunt with yayo.//
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Mar 19 2007

       [Absinthe], I think you might just not understand my vernacular. Nor did I expect you to. No worries.
monk, Mar 19 2007

       WTF??!?!??!?! [+]
AntiQuark, Mar 20 2007

       Completely [+]
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 20 2007

       it had "ninja" right in the title. how could i say no? (+)
neo_, Nov 25 2009

       The only good thing about the 04 crash is that it lets me vote (+) twice on beauts like this.   

       I read this again. I am wondering what the sculpture was. Presumably the old guy was figuring that out with his cane.
bungston, May 14 2010

       Don't mind me. Just revisiting an old classic for some of our newer bakers to enjoy.
RayfordSteele, Feb 27 2012

       Pondering this. The problem is that only the blind guy gets to experience the sculpture. To the viewer it looks like a mix of tai-chi and kendo.   

       I wonder if a troupe of ninjas on a darkened stage might use a staff with a light on one side to draw three dimensional figures in the air, aided by the visual effect of persistence.   

       Also pondering what it is to be teh ghey.
bungston, Feb 07 2017

       // a troupe of ninjas on a darkened stage might use a staff with a light on one side to draw three dimensional figures in the air, aided by the visual effect of persistence. //   

8th of 7, Feb 07 2017

       //God knows what they'd sell in the gift shop, though//

What would sell well is a VR version of this, where you can play the blind man and the ninja is simulated.
hippo, Feb 07 2017


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