“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”
(Mask carved from a vegetable gourd, Manila)
Black Waves is “an expression of nature, rendered entirely in digital technology.”
The effect is created by “calculating the interaction of hundreds of thousands of individual water particles, and then representing the movement of waves in a crescendo of white foam.”
Computer animation is not new, but what is intriguing about this work is that it depicts the seascape in the style of traditional Japanese painting.
There is some kind of formality, a sense of order in what appears to be random, and yet it seems so realistic. Science capturing art capturing reality.
The artwork invites the viewers to immerse themselves in it. One can literally “step into the waves” or simply watch them from a bean bag on the floor while listening to the soothing background music.
By blurring the separation between viewer and artwork, it expresses the idea that we ourselves need not be separated from nature.
This vision of the future world is intriguing indeed.
“Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.”
– William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
(Statue of The Fool at Stratford-Upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace.)
At first glance, it seems Shakespeare is mocking the fool. Even the statue seems to show a clown providing mindless entertainment perhaps.
But Shakespeare’s “fools” actually run deeper. In his plays, the fool has the ability to reflect, give logical and witty responses, and has the freedom to speak his mind, crossing the boundary between the social classes of the common people and the court.
“A fool thinks himself to be wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
– William Shakespeare, As You Like It
This angle of the statue shows “the other side” of the fool. He is carrying the fool persona on his finger, but his real face doesn’t resemble it at all. Is he having the last laugh? Who’s fooling who?
“O noble fool! A worthy fool!”
– William Shakespeare, As You Like It
So today, I pay tribute to all the fools who are able to pull it off 🙂
A father says to his daughter, “Congratulations! I heard the school is giving you a medal for your very good grades! When is the awarding?”
The girl smiles and replies, “That’s on Monday.”
The dad says, “I see. Why didn’t tell you me? I heard parents of awardees are invited.”
The daughter says, “You’re always away on a business trip anyway, and you weren’t around last time I got a medal. Mommy can come. It’s alright, Daddy.”
To a father who loves his daughter, this hurts. In the gut. His child no longer expects him to be around on important events.
How can the father explain to his child that he had to be away at work so he could send her to a good school? Is there an easy answer?
I once read an article by a businessman who said his responsibility to his business includes not only his responsibility to his family but also to the families of the people working for him. That sometimes he had to make personal sacrifices for the greater good.
Yes, we all make trade-offs. But when put like this, it implies that the end justifies the means. So is one end more important than another? Who determines it, the father or the child?
These questions will become even more important in the future. Driverless cars may one day have to choose between two pedestrians, one of which it can’t avoid – an old person or a child – which one will it save? Are life decisions impersonal? What if it was your mother or your child?
Life is more than an optimization equation. Will we let computers make decisions for us? Can humans truly isolate their feelings from an objective world?
We cannot, and should not, escape the human condition. To be fully human we have to throw ourselves at life, fully and unconditionally, and take what it throws back, including the difficult choices, the pain and suffering, the joys and happy memories, and make them part of our reality.
In his popular book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”, Viktor Frankl wrote that one can find meaning and hope even in the most difficult circumstances, that this choice is the human freedom that cannot be taken away.
I wish I could simply wish a Hollywood ending for the father and his child, but life doesn’t give answers that easily. Yet as long as they stay engaged with life, there is hope. Sometimes the meaning of the dance hits us while we are dancing, and the picture emerges from the shadows when the light hits all the pieces of a stained glass window.
(Photo of the sculpture “Oblation” taken at the University of the Philippines.)
Oblation (n) – an offering, sacrifice.
The world today sometimes makes us feel “broken” in our everyday life, our aches and pains and joys disjointed, we ask “what is the meaning of it all?”
“The easiest thing to do is throw a rock. It’s a lot harder to create a stained glass window.”
– Jon Foreman
Stained glass windows are made of fragments, like pieces of a puzzle. Only when viewed from afar that they transform into a beautiful whole.
If we stop and step back, maybe we can see how far we have come. In our relationships, the joys we have brought to others, our contribution to the world no matter how small, perhaps we can see a pattern emerging – a beautiful stained glass window in the making.
“People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
– Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
Stained glass windows offer a glimpse into something sublime. They tell us that there is something beyond the mundane, that perhaps we can transform ourselves and our world beyond the ordinary.
Stained glass windows at St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague, Czech Republic
It’s not just your grandpa’s music on vinyl records today.
And Spotify is not solely for millennials either.
To me listening to good music, new or old, in any format be it analog or digital, is a way to refresh the soul. It reconnects us to our memories, as well as to emotions conveyed by others. Is there a tinge of Nostalgia? Perhaps there is in any kind of musical experience.
Up close, Claude Monet’s painting of Water Lilies at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York shows his perfectionism, a study of his impressionistic technique to capture color and light.
When stepping back, one sees “the illusion of an endless whole, of water without horizon or bank” that he was aiming for. His genius was creating the big picture while working on the fine details.
In contrast, Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night, also at the MoMA, shows the bold brush strokes that seem to be aimed at driving away the demons haunting his mind. That he was able to paint the beauty of the galaxies, the endless movement of the universe — the biggest picture of them all– is a testament to his bravery and the greatness of his genius.