Beauty, what is it?

We humans are obsessed by beauty, but do we even know what it is.

Striving for that perfect look, through makeup, razors, brands, botox, expensive rejuvination creams and plastic surgery.

Meanwhile nature effortlessly presents it’s immense beauty, at every possible opportunity.

While we humans, eagerly displace our natural appearance for a manufactured, civilised, expensive one, following the fashion of our peers, all following the fashion of our leaders, and role models, who are paid, bribed or simply doing the same as we do, following the herd, an ever repeating loop.

We see the vibrant setting sun, a bird chirping and fluttering, the dance of light sparkling through water onto a wall, the flicker of a fire’s flames, dazzingly beautiful, effortless, perhaps that is what helps it to be beautiful, it just is, calm and relaxed.

With so many “natural” looking make ups and mimicry of the normal way of things, all at a high price tag, but we cannot simply be natural, we are sold an image we can never attain, a natural beauty more beautiful than nature, but however we try we can never attain, every new product seems to only briefly bring us there, only to leave us desperate for more of the same.

Perhaps it is just about the habit, instilled in us, that an effort must be made for a social situation, to be clothed, clean and presentable, in our concrete surrounds, with our mud free plastic coated foods, doing unfulfilling tasks that leave us to seek fulfillment in appearance, attention from others.

Nothing so much wrong with these things, except perhaps the lose of ourselves, the lose of our time and resources given to simply being socially acceptable, or the image of what that might be, if we can only get there, we are undeniably a social species, and we achieve such great things, thanks to our collaborative efforts.

But I suggest we should be constantly questioning what we are doing, do these things help us progress, or are they an expensive habit, an addiction to a way of thinking that simply fixes us in a way of acting, that presents nothing new, nothing except for the profit of a few, absorbing our creative energy, but without the satisfaction of computer of completing something and gifting it to others.

Are we democratic towards our own thoughts, able to object to what we think, to stop and make changes, that suit us better, or are we non-questioning, stuck on what we have already been doing for umpteen years, change is unthinkable, following the herd writin our own heads, a flock of thoughts, constantly flowing like a river, we cannot even see the slow flowing places, where we could get our orientation, connect to our intuition and look at the river objectively, and at the many rivers presented to us by y he many voices, especially those that annoy us the most, our mentors, instead we object, complain, but make no actions.

If we are not able to be democratic, and humble, towards ourselves, to be wrong and change direction, listen to our own gut and other voices that disagree with the thoughts we may have, we may talk democracy but we are not democratic in ourselves, and are simply a part of the seemingly general way of thinking, of having an opinion based on ego attachment to dogma, labels and idiologies and not facts, we are not democratic because we will not listen to those we disagree with, we cannot be empathetic, we only want to associate ourselves with the agreeable, that is more inline with communism, or whatever other idiologies that we may feel are of more benefit, but ultimately being unable to listen to the disagreeable with empathy just brings more of the same, people not feeling empathy.

Thanks for reading, Sam.

Fixed to Flux, kinetic art installation at Mud Studio, Yilan City, Taiwan

This is my first installation art piece, hosted by Mud Studio, with a time limit of two days.

For this project I worked spontaneously and allowed the idea to evolve and grow, starting off with what materials I thought would be easily accessible and that would allow me to make something in a short time frame.

When I visited the space last time, there was a kinetic artwork being exhibited made by Wei Ling Hung, I did a blog post previously about her work at Mud. I’m mentioning Hung again as it inspired my own project to also be a kinetic, moving piece, using a fan, though my direction was to try and create strong shadows, so that they would be the biggest visual element. I find shadows create a strong sense of mood and atmosphere, personally I find them mysterious and calming.

On day one I collected some cardboard boxes from the supermarket nearby, popped into a hardware store to buy some metal wire, and walked across town to find a fishing shop, for some nylon wire. I knew I wanted to create three elements to my work, a central shape, outer directional shapes and thirdly more temporary shapes, but all united through their general location and following a floating movement together. Please watch the video at the end of this post for a better idea of the works movements.

My concept did not form until day two, but I knew early on that I wanted a moving piece, that I would try and use recycled materials.

On day two, I considered what the piece was, it had one central circular part, surrounded by, stiffly suspended, directional shapes, with words describing their movements, and from those hanging loosely, pieces of thin, randomly cut and folded pieces of paper, also with words describing the movements they made.

My concept formed, I saw the central circle as the facts of us, the things that are certain in our lives, that inform our intuition, our gut feeling, then the directional shapes, which represented those things we know, that are certain, but can change in extreme situations, such as nationality, sex, age and the pieces of floating paper, which are the thoughts that are always changing, such as likes and dislikes.

The concept was also inspired by Wei Ling Hung’s piece, as her’s was focused on relationships between people in a community, and for me looking at how her piece moved and interacted, helped to form an association between different movements and the difference between things, the parallels, I guess we could thank categorisation in the English language, and being from a culture where judgment is promoted above anything else, for this ingrained ability in us.

The title “Fixed to Flux” describes the key differences, how somethings are fixed and other things are always changing, or in flux, here is a short video of my installation, I hope it helps to describe the piece, and if you see other thanks from me then please share, I am especially interested in alternate ways of interpreting things.

I have just started a new residency, in a rainy forest in the mountains, near Daxin, Taiwan. My project here is to make a large textile art work, lets see what I can come up with, plus of course photos. Thanks for reading, Sam.

Akihisa HIRATA – Architect show at Jut Gallery Taipei

Akihisa is a Japanese architect, I found his show at Jut Taipei. It was especially interesting to me as it engaged with the idea of buildings that incorporate nature at their heart, as the pictures below show, buildings and mountains merged together. I like the idea of using plants in buildings structure (which I don’t see in Akihisa’s work), like tree houses, or houses with mud and grass on their roof. Architecture has generally always sought to make big intrusions onto the environment, rather than making minimal changes and managing what already is, pursuing the idea that humans are somehow separate from nature.

I have seen trees in the middle of cafes a few times, where the tree is a key feature of the place, but how can we use the living tree more as a structural element, building onto it, or planting onto it other plants and objects which can adapt to the ever changing plant, and provide us with shelter and the other things we desire, perhaps we are too impatient and when making money quickly is the driving force, as well as old habits, seems difficult to see how things can change, but surely they will and must, we need clean air, less reliance on electricity and nicer homes, and I’m sure nature is very able to help us solve this puzzle.

Thanks for reading, Sam.