A Specialized AETHOS Project
by Kosuke Masuda

Can human and machine become one?

The perfect ride is often defined as one where you feel one with your bicycle, when human and machine become so closely intertwined. Specialized threw out the rule books of bicycle design and chased the greatest expression of ride quality ever made.

With this in mind, the "AETHOS" was born.

The AETHOS was built In Pursuit of the Perfect Ride. With a desire to explore possibilities still unknown, Specialized asked Japanese artists to create a work that explores the depths of cycling inspiration that brought to life the Aethos.

The name of the artist is KOSUKE MASUDA.

He is a Buddhist priest and an artist. Together with his wife, Kei Hompo, an artist who works mainly with photography and film with an emphasis on dialogue, he attempts to reflect deeply on and capture various aspects of the ideas and relationships between himself and others.

Kei Hompo visually expressed his thought and stories behind the creation of his work through this documentary.

A Specialized AETHOS Project by Kosuke Masuda

Kosuke Masuda's Thought & Creation

Photo & Text by Kei Hompo

Kosuke Masuda's
Thought and Creation

I find him constantly moving his brush or pen...

no. 1

I find him constantly moving his brush or pen, during a conversation, in between work,or during a break from walking.

Kosuke Masuda is an esoteric Buddhist priest of the Koyasan Shingon sect, a father, an artist who lives with his family, and my husband.

Born in a temple in Yokohama, he has loved art since his childhood. He loves to draw and the early works found in his sketchbooks are truly fascinating.

After graduating from the The University of Auckland, New Zealand, he went off to train and become a monk like his father and brother in Koyasan, Wakayama Prefecture in 2005. And it was through this experience that here calls he was able to hone his craft and find his true calling. Since then, he has built separate careers as both a monk and artist.

While experimenting with various methods of painting and forms of expression, he developed his identity through his “works related to bicycles”. In particular, the detailed metal engraving work he has applied to all bicycle parts have been well received both in Japan and overseas for many years. I have been working with him as a photographer over time and became more involved with him after that. We started to build a family together and were faced with new experiences that caused a change to occur in him.

He realized that the titles and activities of monks and artists were not separate, but integrated in his life as an individual. From that time on, he became aware of the meaning of change and more accepting of the transformation he saw in himself and others.

Kosuke Masuda's
Thought and Creation

To experience life itself and accept...

no. 2

He finds the unknown, the wonder, "the frontier" in the familiar. People tend to assume that the frontier is somewhere in a distant and isolated place. However, there are many that surround us all the time.

What the family gives.
A favourite shade tree.
Bends left unnoticed.
Esoteric teachings.
Daily work.
And drawing.

Everything is his lively "everyday life". In them, there is a glitter of the unknown and the wonder, in other words, "the frontier". The source of his creativity comes from encountering the daily frontier by carefully facing with them.

I watched various things behind his eyes appear through his works.

To experience life itself and accept change and transformation. After becoming aware of the changing nature of life, the lively "everyday life" in front of him became the teacher he needed to learn from.

Kosuke Masuda's
Thought and Creation

You seem happy when you are drawing...

no. 3

"You seem happy while drawing.
What are you thinking?"

"I'm just experimenting with my daily touch."

When I asked, this is what he replied. I see, He is supposed to be examining deeply by drawing.

"Do you feel something when you draw?"

"I think, there is a big, very big, great presence in universe and I'm trying to experience myself as a part of it. It may be rare to feel it."

We are all essentially a part of "nature". In the doctrine of Shingon Buddhism, "nature" and "universe" are understood as Dainichi Nyorai, a supreme being. It is said that in the practical practice of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism, one may attain a sense of oneness with them. It is also said that the desire to "being one with the Buddha" is the foundation  of the Shingon Esoteric Buddhist monks.

If that's the case, unconsciously, his desire is manifested in the act of painting itself.

Kosuke Masuda's
Thought and Creation

Our seemingly unchanging bodies...

no. 4

The homeostasis is fundamentally different from the invariance of a specimen stored in a glass case. The former is a "living" state, while the latter is a "dead" state.

He is attracted to that "living state". 

He actively incorporates phenomena that he did not intend, preferring a "usable" form so that he can continue to relate to his work and creation. 

This kind of attitude is in recognition that his work of art is alive. 

Bicycles are the voice of his opinion.

People cannot live without relationships with others. Bicycles, whether it's being fabricated or just when being ridden, do not function without people.

The bicycle has become one of the vessels for him to reconsider, continue to think about, and convey the idea of being alive.

Our seemingly unchanging bodies are faced with new situations every day, and are constantly being replaced by new cells to be maintained while responding to changes.

Kosuke Masuda's
Thought and Creation

"One of his many interests is stones..."

no. 5

One of his many interests is stones. The amusing shapes, the weight when held in your hands, and the depth of its size accumulated through the years.

When he goes out to pick up stones with my son, they don't come back easily. In fact, the pockets of the whole family, including myself, always contain the favourite stones we picked up.

For him, the stone is a symbol of change that encapsulates the passage of time. In the same way, he enjoys the texture of the bicycle parts that fit in the hands and the unexpected sensation when touched. Thinking about the feelings of the creator and the fact that he has reached his hand across the hands of others, he draws there as a way to interact with the subject.

His typical technique of "scratch" engraving and patina painting using the oxidation of copper that changes over time are signs of his fascination with a "living state" and his attempts to maintain it. Its intuitive and sharp lines, the ones that appear in different colours, all appeal to the depths of the viewer's heart.

I have seen many times that what you see there depends on the relationship between the person facing the work and the image of the work itself. It's no surprise that some people can see themselves through the work.

He interprets the AETHOS as a vessel that actively accepts change, that it is a"living thing".

Kosuke Masuda's
Thought and Creation

We came across a rare bicycle...

no. 6

A "living" work of art using the AETHOS as a vessel was born.

He wants this piece of work to function as a "living thing."

To stay alive, we must stay involved. He wants the work to be touched and used. He wants people to continue to have a lively relationship that accepts any changes and works together.

By using and continuing to be involved, the "bicycle" will continue to live.

We came across a rare bicycle called AETHOS. This seems to have been inevitable for me.

This work is not complete.
As long as we, and you, continue to be involved.

A Specialized AETHOS Project by Kosuke Masuda