2011, Illustration, Mythological

Illustrations: The Birdwomen

 


Ink, Pencil. Inspired by the Sirens from Greek Myth.

John William Waterhouse – Ulysses and the Sirens (1891)

Incidentally, many other cultures have birdwomen of their own. My most vivid memories of birdwomen include an african folktale (told to me in elementary school) of a terrible birdwoman who would scream: “Ai-yeeeee, ai-yeeee!” We put up a play on her and I had wanted to be birdwoman (I thought I had the perfect scream). In the end I had to contend with playing a shrill little sparrow.

Celestial human-bird figures called the Kinnara figure in Buddhist and Hindu mythology:

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Candid, Film

Paper Trails

I have a hoarding tendency and I don’t have a single organized bone in my body to make sense of it.

I keep the little scraps of paper in my pocket and the library receipts of others that fall out of books; the pamphlets I take from art galleries, the mathematical workings from two years ago – they pile up in little cairns and I forget about them. I have things unsorted that go back as early as primary 2 and are as banal as a science worksheet. It’s hugely ironic, how I hoard this paper trail and yet don’t quite ever put them in their places, map out my path… The forgetting bit, though, leads me often to the false feeling of the pointlessness of storing anything. Lately I don’t keep photographs of events. I don’t enshrine milestones, no “Congratulations” on the wall. My personal photographs of New Zealand are all scenery without myself in the landscape. I fault this misplaced cynicism for the lack of photographic records for my Substation installations, but really I was too caught up in setting things right to bother about records…

I’ve decided to document my life through a series of note books, each to be filled with the detritus of my days. These are things that flow into my life and I need a reminder to know they exist – an extra-printed copy of my Identification Card with an awful photograph of 15 year old me; pamphlets from arts events; photocopied horse silhouettes from a teaching internship training activity. Little parcels that remind me of what I’ve been through. I will fill books and books and books. I’m probably doing this because I’d be interested in someone who did the same. It’s not purely narcissism, of course – it’s a need to know where I’ve gone, to chart a trajectory, to know what I am, to stop feeling so nebulous. I’m a very nebulous being, I think, a creature of flighty impulse. It’s an old-school project to work on. No digital social network wall of photos or computerized record of messages. It leaves me to my head – and I don’t often leave myself to my head these days; it’s erosive.

Two days ago I watched ‘L’année Dernière à Marienbad/’Last Year in Marienbad’ by French New Wave director Alain Resnais. I watched it two days ago and I was afraid it would be highbrow intellectual nonsense, but I actually enjoyed it. It is very dreamy, experimental and unorthodox. It also has a glamorous aesthetic Lagerfeld seems to pursue in his little fashion films. There’s an interesting echo of Marienbad’s opulent, oneiric, tragic, insular world of the rich in his latest piece, The Tale of the Fairy.

In Marienbad, two characters move fluidly across different settings of the baroque chateau at Marienbad, a ‘place’ dislocated from space and time as the man, ‘X’ attempts to convince the woman, ‘A’, that they met in Marienbad a year before and had planned to elope. Audiences don’t know exactly within which part of the narrative does each sequence occur, because the narrative itself is circuitous, repetitive, labyrinthine. Everything seems to exist simultaneously in multiple realities, one neither more believable than the other. But these fantasies, these concoctions -concocted by who? The man, ‘X’?- fill the empty rooms with an idea of a past, of history. Whether anything actually occurred in those rooms, the inert figures that populate Marienbad give no sign, possess no definite imprint, no memory.

The circuitous narrative expounds some necessity to constantly revisit the past (in the case that it actually exists). Yet the obsession to revisit the past only revisions it, splintering and multiplying an event into many more possible histories – the sentences that ‘X’ narrates about Marienbad’s winding, forgetful corridors change slightly each time; woman ‘A’ lies down on the bed in four different ways in one sequence, as if ‘X’ tries to capture the correct image of her (but what is the correct way? He was never in that room. Whichever fits into his fantasy, then) The costumes, more noticeably on woman ‘A’, change within seeming narrative threads. Which is the correct remembrance then – which belongs to the collective, factual memory of the place? Which is simply dreamt up by ‘X’? ‘X’ is not an ordinary character. He controls the narrative like a director, seeming to puppeteer ‘A’ by pre-empting or directing her actions. The role ‘X’ plays (just like ‘A’, and the unnamed man who may be her husband) has implications on the spatio-temporality of the film. If the sequences are his fantasies, ‘X’ creates them (as he narrates how they play out) on screen for us, and they occur in the present. Or perhaps he is traversing images of the past, and he is correcting them. More likely, they are images that are ambiguously past and present, that intertwine and splinter, their origins forgotten.

The stiffness of the characters (beyond ‘X’, ‘A’, and unnamed man) and their artificiality make Marienbad seem even more like a dream, a place out of space and time. They pose artfully, like figures out of a Givenchy ad; their voices, replicate speech played out before. There are strange, surreal sequences where actors are totally stilled save for a single figure making small, obvious movement. They seem to be figures in someone’s dream or memory – stilled, extracted, manipulated, as if to examine or get at some greater truth. A levity, a lack of gravity, definitiveness, a centering of time and space, of character, permeates Marienbad. Also, what is ‘A’ so frightened of that she articulates several time in a wordless, primal cry? Why does she tell ‘X’ to leave her alone – and why does she do this despite following him around? The only thing that seems definite is Marienbad’s labyrinth of corridors, where the thick carpet forgets the lives that walk its interiors, that allows the recreation of mystery. But then even Marienbad’s existence seems inconsequential – in its continuous forgetting Marienbad itself is an empty vessel waiting to be filled with meaning, a canvas to be painted on, a stage to be set. Ultimately, what is real in Marienbad is only the image before one’s eyes; it dies the moment it passes, expiring into the windowless past.

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Artworks, Installation, Large-scale, Singapore Art Museum

Artwork: Dark Matter on exhibition at the Singapore Art Museum

(Photo : Justin Lin)

“Dark Matter” now occupies a single wall instead of two walls set at an angle due to curatorial decision.

“Dark Matter” and other fabulous works will be up at the SYF Arts and Crafts Exhibition 2010 at the Singapore Art Museum until the 22 of August 2010. A gamut of works are on display, ranging from traditional chinese paintings to a complex papercut installation.

Go down, have a look, and support us young Singaporean artists. 🙂

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Artworks, Intimate

Illustration: Black Swans update / Photography: 12x

THIS HAPPENED:

NOOOOOOOOOOOO

R.I.P Pencil. T__T

12x

SO when it came down to it, I didn’t sell this work at 12x.

I was rushing to finish it, and I never feel good rushing pieces because I could feel myelf getting tired and less inspired, and that would only affect the work.

I kind of hate/dislike it a lot now. I always seem to have a love-hate relationship with all my work, particularly if I’ve taken too long to complete them. Looking at unfinished work makes an artist feel ridiculously constipated and frustrated.

{  12x –An Art Experiment at Evil Empire, 48 Niven Road }

The (A)Stray/After-images series was sold to a cute graphic designer Michelle Fun (webbie: http://www.MichelleFun.com)

:3 Thanks loads Michelle, for being the first ever buyer of my work.

Smallness Sanguinary Severity Stateliness Security Sacrosanct Symmetry Stifledness Sins Sphinx Shadows

Secrets, Summer, Solitude, Solace, Sanctum, Sabotage

Solace, stillness, safety, society, stationary, sacred, shelter


{12x–From the perspective of a contributing artist}

An artist comes away from a melee  like 12x, where the audience’s preferences are clearly expressed in the sighs of disappointment or the silence that follows  when a work has been chosen by the current balloter, feeling a little like a gladiator thrown to the lions, where the favour of the crowd decides his/her fate.

Most artists were suitably pokerfaced during the balloting. Artists hate being judged. It was hard for me not to loose control and begin blabbering to Sarah (Sarah Choo, NYJC AEP senior whose work “Gestalt in the City” was extremely popular at 12x) in a nervous titter like I had lost all my brains.

What was interesting  to observe were the preferences of the balloters. Balloters go for an arresting visual, something that would give them enjoyment in contemplating and see hanging in their home.

Admittedly, artists create works with certain meanings that aren’t the most suitable in the home (Such as the “penis and vagina piece”). But then again, it’s all terribly subjective. I’m very sure there were very creative, discerning, open and informed individuals at the balloting, yet I can’t help but feel that there’s a disjunct between an artist’s opinion of what is a worthwhile work and that of the balloters.

Here I am tempted to wax lyrical about how people often choose a work mainly for aesthetic value–but I shan’t. I think preference is a very personal thing, and that was part of the main point of 12x. And I suppose all of us artists should realize that–that creating a popular work doesn’t necessarily make one acclaimed, nor does it mean you’re playing to the gallery.

Leaving oneself open to public opinion is always nerve-wrecking, but through it you learn. You regret certain choices when you see how those choices (such as deciding not to frame a work -kicks self- ) play out, and you may disagree vehemently with some opinions of others, but it’s all okay, really. It’s an experience, particularly for us young ‘uns, to the test the waters. Wait till we face the real art critics and collectors.

Congrats and thanks once again to Berny Tan, Alan Oei and Evil Empire for making 12x possible and a success!

This is Luca, signing out.

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