“Interconnected: Science, Nature, and Technologies” show at Adamson Gallery from April 11th to June 14th, 2014.
Interconnected/Cloud and Other Works
I believe that art is not separable from science, philosophy, social, economic or political reality. Art is something I cannot predict; rather, it happens without pre-knowledge. It happens with the force of energy and inevitability. I only have to carry it onwards to bring it into being a cohesive whole.
Creative energy is in a way like rain that comes down from the sky when the accumulated humidity can no longer remain suspended in the air and drops to the earth.
In such a way, my first “WEB” piece was born in 1999. I did not arrive at this title after a long deliberation over a catchy name for my work; instead, it came to me when I installed the work in the gallery. Coincidentally, several months later, I came across a book called The Web of Life on my basement bookshelf. In it, American physicist and systems theorist Fritjof Capra articulated the feelings that had motivated me to create such a piece:
“The basic tension is one between the parts and the whole. The emphasis on the parts has been called mechanistic, reductionist or atomistic; the emphasis on the whole holistic, organismic, or ecological……….
Understanding ecological interdependence means understanding relationships. It requires the shifts of perception that are characteristic of systems thinking-from parts to the whole, from objects to relationships, from contents to patterns. A sustainable human community is aware of the multiple relationships among its members…”
These quotations became the central focus of my art making. I found my purpose in creating works that remind people that we are all connected in many overlapping webs woven out of the common forces that affect the human condition: family origin, economic stressors, religious beliefs, nature, time, place, and technology. After all, we are only human beings who were born and will die, only to be replaced by others in the community of man.
This newest work, “Cloud” evolved through a gradual progression. First, I was curious about the word itself: cloud systems store endless amounts of digital records and data. I also recalled my childhood memory of the Japanese movie called “Non-chan Rides on the Cloud.” I was only in first grade when I watched this movie and admired Non-chan, who could float on the cloud. It depicted a dream world at that time. Now, everybody can get on the cloud through technological means like when in an airplane. Once we get into the cloud, we become surrounded by humid air and find nothing. But I can still admire clouds from the ground, especially since clouds somehow evoke feelings of hopes and dreams for me. At the same time, clouds are metaphors for life itself. They look so beautiful from the ground or from far away; however, they are empty and there is nothing once we are inside of them.
I would like to create an artwork that carries my fantasy hopes and dreams, yet reflects my complex emotional paradoxical feeling of nothingness through my Cloud artwork. I intentionally chose onions and potatoes as metaphorical substances to make my work. When we peel onion skins one after another, what are left are skins but nothing else. When we open a potato, there is nothing unlike when we open an apple. This reminds me of life itself. In order to make my sculpture, I peeled onion skins and sliced potatoes and dried them until they lost 90% of their moisture. What I discovered during the process was how beautiful the resulting aged skin was. I also was drawn towards the unexpected beautiful curvature of sliced potatoes and onion skin that occurred by reducing the moisture from the cells. After making a silicon rubber mold of the dried onion skins and sliced potatoes, I made a range of differently pigmented resin pieces. To me they are like individual cells. I made modules first by connecting four or five pieces with stainless steel wire without the use of sketches. It was quite like the chance operation John Cage mentioned for his work process. I then connect the modules together to discover the right matches. Gradually, a substantial shape emerged. My work tells me what to do next. I just follow. This process is similar to the growth of an organism.
Is there any relationship between my artwork, Cloud, and the technological cloud? Both are artificial products and both are able to multiply endlessly; once we are determined to destroy them, they can be corrupted instantly. In today’s civilized society, we no longer can live without technology and artificial materials. We co-exist with them although we are part of nature.
Why do we live like this? Why do we constantly create new products? As long as we have the energy to move on, we are always longing for new encounters and discoveries as we are born to be curious.
As we tend to make mistakes and meet all different kinds of difficulties, I stumble upon unexpected problems often while I work. Making art is never easy; however, when I witness my work reaching maturity by coming to a cohesive whole, I always feel it is a rewarding activity and want to continue until my energy runs out.
March 24, 2014