December 7, 2013

Flexible 3D-Printed Jewelry Hits the Market

I've been tracking the 3D printing industry for awhile now. Besides 3D printing's benefits in manufacturing and product design in terms of resource saving and optimizing, scaling production while reducing time, and the ability to generate more complex parts, I love how it can be applied to fashion, interior design, and jewelry. I really enjoy browsing 3D printing site Shapeways for design ideas (they even have meme designs - yay for a 9Gag/Reddit/Cracked person like me!).

I'm also a big fan of geometric design, if you haven't caught it on from the last "5 Things Friday" post on 10 stylish geometric decorations, and 3D printing allows designers to do just that.

Anyway, design studio Nervous System, which specializes in generating designs combining art, science, and technology, has released a new range of jewelry called Kinematics

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Kinematics is the branch of classical mechanics describing the motion of points, bodies (objects) and systems of bodies (groups of objects) without considering of the causes of motion - in short, the "geometry of motion". You probably are familiar with concepts like "velocity", "accelerations", "trajectories", and "planes"... well, that's what goes into kinematics. 

Bearing that in mind, Nervous System's Kinematics jewelry is all about complex, foldable jewelry composed of modular shapes/assemblages that are interlocked via tiny joints. Each module is rigid, but the interlocking structure/lattice is designed in such a manner that the entire piece can fold, behaving like a continuous fabric. There are four styles: smooth, angular, polygonal and tetrahedral.

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From left: smooth, tetra, and polygonal modules
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I love this asymmetric one!
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And here is how it unfolds!

What makes this "foldability" exciting is that it allows you to print objects that are larger in size than a 3D printer in a compressed form which is immediately usable after printing - no painstaking assembly of parts required, unlike this stunning 3D-printed dress by Shapeways in March 2013 modeled by Dita Von Teese, which required assembly in over 3,000 places. 

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If you're feeling adventurous, Nervous System has released two apps: (1) Kinematics, through which you can design your own jewelry and then submit to them for ordering, and (2) Kinematics @ Home to design and download in STL format if you have a 3D printer of your own.  

Besides the Kinematics range, Nervous System has other scientifically-themed ranges such as dendrite and hyphae; these ranges extend beyond jewelry to lighting, puzzles, and housewares.

I'll leave you with this video of how the system works. Back to studying! 



Images:

December 4, 2013

Just A Quick Update: I'm Still Kicking!

Dear readers and travelers,

Apologies for not keeping up with the posting! These 2-3 weeks have been an insane, breakneck-speed melange of activities. Some activities have turned out to be rewarding, others not yet (at least that's what I hope!). A quick summary of what I've been up to:

A group of us got together to organize a fund raiser for the Philippine victims of Typhoon Haiyan, called "Share Your Love". Activities included charity sales (again thank you to our lovely private donors and corporate sponsors Bonjour Cosmetics, Mirror Restaurant, Pret A Manger, and Sift Desserts!), T-shirt sales, video screening, and a candlelight vigil to commemorate the victims. Proceeds were 100% channeled to UNICEF, which already has teams on the ground providing safety and hygiene kits among other necessities. Happily, the entire HKUST community came together... we raised almost HKD 75,000 in merely 2 days, including a HKD 23,000 match by two private donors. 

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Baked goods on sale!... I had so many cookies and cupcakes. GYM TAIM!

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The people of the Philippines still need constant help to aid with rebuilding, so if you want to contribute, please click here for a list of ways you can help.

Otherwise, I've been occupied with wrapping up final projects, sleepless nights and the typical HKUST busy-ness. Have been feeling unusually nauseous especially while travelling on bus and the MTR too, besides having to attend job interviews! I really had to draw into my energy reserves to appear cheerful, enthusiastic, and positive, while internally I felt like this:
This is my totem animal by the way. Apparently its expressions match mine :D
All the same, I'm thankful that I've been getting more and more interview calls! And when I'm feeling bad, I just keep these verses in mind: 

"11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength."
- Philippians 4:13

Incidentally, this idea gives me pause: we perhaps often misquote v. 13 out of context. I don't doubt that God wants us to do well in our chosen field, our relationships, etc, but it doesn't mean you're going to get every A, ace every interview just because you believe... If we look at v.11 and 12, we can see that Paul is saying that he is content regardless of circumstances, because of Christ.

Last off, we printed out our Science elective poster! Signed, sealed, delivered undergrad, with only finals to go!

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A radical shift from the previous design I posted because the professor wanted us to make a stand as to whether we should proceed with human cloning. Personally, I'm all for therapeutic cloning (which enables stem cell research) but not so much reproductive cloning (which will produce mini-Me's). 

Besides the awful idea that there would be another me running around - despite being younger and therefore not exactly the same person (technically at this stage, human cloning would not produce a photocopy of you at the age you are at cloning... the clone has to be birthed), I don't really see much purpose in human cloning, other than an expression of our hubris. Although, one may argue that not wanting to be cloned is another form of hubris e.g. considering oneself unique.

Then again, there's this:


Who needs cloning when you have a doppelganger right in Hong Kong?

November 15, 2013

5 Things Friday x 2: 10 Stylish Geometric Decorations

Back on the 5 Things Friday series, after awhile! This week, we're doubling down with 10 things to count down with. I'm currently on a geometric phase. I've also always been interested in 3D printing, especially when it comes to making complex latticed designs in furniture, jewelry, etc. Happily for me, at least, geometry seems to be one of the rising trends in design nowadays... so I've gathered a list of 10 geometric items that will hopefully inspire you or catch your eye :).

10. Small Spica lamp by Iacoli & Mcallister
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Named after the brightest star in the Virgo constellation, this lamp is elegant and modern in its geometric simplicity.

9. Mr. Fox print by May and Belle
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What does the fox say? "Go geometrical!"

Sorry. That was terrible. I'm still keeping that sentence.

8. Themis Mobile by Poketo
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Your baby will be fascinated with this colourful geode mobile, but it wouldn't look out of place hanging elsewhere in your home. And did you know that Poketo's name (pronounced poh-KEH-toe) came about from co-founder Angie's Korean grandmother mispronouncing "pocket"? So cute! Poketo has a variety of other items, from wallets to apparel and accessories.

7. Ceremony backdrop by SarahParkDesigns
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This is just "wow"! Perfect modern touch to any occasion. Are you also spotting those cute geodes on sticks on the table like I am?

6. Mixed designs notebooks by Tamasyn Gambell
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Unisex design, and great 1980's vibe.

5. Timber & Ore bar stools by Woodsmithe
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Mint and wood, I'm in love. Hong Kong bar decorators, please get some?

4. Turning Japanese necklaces from Nylon Sky
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Simply love the elegant fan shape and combination of ivory and black, and gold with wood and tortoise shell.

3. Rhino 2 bedding by Deniz Ercelebi
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The rhino is a bit of a random choice for bedding, but I like the colour scheme, the tonality, and how the rhino pops out in an almost 3D-like manner.

2. LH2O bottles by by Pedrita with Água de Luso
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I love this! The design mimics space-packing structures found in nature e.g. rock formations and cellular structures. Thus, the bottles can be packed closely, minimising space between each dimension of the bottles. This optimises production material, and reduces storage and transportation costs.  

1. Kaleido trays by Hay
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Danish design company Hay is all about modular design. Love these trays from the Kaleido range - you can mix and match the many different shapes for a striking retro arrangement. 

What do you think of geometric designs? Too sharp? Or really cool?

November 13, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan: How to Help

 © Yi Wei Lim 2013

If you follow the news, you probably know that the strongest typhoon of 2013, named Typhoon Haiyan, occurred last week. Haiyan recorded wind speeds up to 315km/h, and made landfall in Micronesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, China, and Vietnam. 

Most severely affected was the Philippines, with Giuian, Eastern Samar, and Tacloban, Leyte, and some parts of Cebu being the worst-hit areas, despite earlier evacuation and preparation efforts. The death toll as of Tuesday is 1,774, but authorities and rescue teams fear that the actual number may rise to 10,000 (as of the writing of this post) as efforts are underway.

Via The Telegraph

Aerial view of the destruction in a town in Samar (via The Globe and Mail)

Meanwhile, at UN climate talks in Warsaw, Poland, Philippines climate change commissioner, Naderev "Yeb" Sano, has embarked on a fast after making an emotional speech, appealing for meaningful action to be taken regarding climate change and global warming. 

"Despite the massive efforts that my country had exerted in preparing for the onslaught of this storm, it was just a force too powerful, and even as a nation familiar with storms, Haiyan was nothing we have ever experienced before," he said (via CNN).

Sano challenged climate change skeptics to "get off their ivory towers" to visit communities all around the world battling flooding, forest fires, and hurricanes.


Typhoon Haiyan has undoubtedly caused a humanitarian emergency. How can you and I help?

Currently, I've been roped in for some planning for some fund-raising efforts which I hope will shape up as soon as possible. In the meantime, if you would like to donate, I've listed some organisations below. Note: before donating, please ensure that the organisations have a specific fund for Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts, whichever type you're comfortable with e.g. food, funds, or supplies, etc. Although I've checked them, please do so on your own too. Please also CHECK the website links / the donation pages when you donate, for security purposes. 

  • The Philippine Red Cross is deploying rescue and aid efforts.
  • UNICEF is supplying children with safe water, hygiene supplies, food, and a safe environment.
  • The UNHCR, the UN's Refugee Agency, is airlifting protection and hygiene kits to Tacloban.  
  • The International Rescue Committee has dispatched a team on the ground in the Philippines and launched a US$ 10 million appeal.
  • The Salvation Army accepts donations on its website. If you live in the States (not sure if it applies internationally), you can donate $10 by sending the text TYPHOON to 80888.
  • Mercy Corps is launching immediate relief effort. 
  • Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) has medical teams in Cebu already, and more medical personnel, logisticians, and psychologists are due to arrive soon. 

Let's support our Philippino brothers and sisters - including those abroad / in your country who must be worried sick for their countrymen - during this crisis.

November 8, 2013

Graduation, and on Overcoming Adversity

This week is a happy, happy week where dear friends officially graduate as degree holders of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). Many congratulations to all, and best wishes in all your endeavours! 

I'm a dinosaur among my university peers, my intake year being 2009/10. One reason for delaying my graduation is that I took a gap year in 2011 to do an internship in Hong Kong. It was a very educational and fruitful period. 

In Fall 2012, when I was supposed to resume studies, something BIG happened. Long story short, I had to return home to settle things and defer school again. My family and I were anxious, and I felt as though life had stopped abruptly... immensely frustrating because your 20's are supposed to be full of youthful energy, ambitions to be realized, and perhaps, the opportunity to find someone you can love.

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.  — Mahatma Gandhi

November 5, 2013

A Short Update, and about Design

Hi! It's been awhile... I've been working back-to-back on an important paper and a project that I'm about to share with you all! The paper was for my art elective, titled "Appreciation of Western Art" taught by Professor Anna Kwong. For those of you who adore art and want to learn more, I encourage you to take her class... She is not the most animated lecturer, but she does know her subject well. Definitely planning to talk her up on art career advice (my slightly-distant/medium-term goal is to become an art dealer, gallerist, or curator!).



And this is a draft poster for my science elective on human cloning. It's pretty amateurish but the best I could come up with in a short period of time. I wonder how much time on average do professional designers take to complete an infographic?


Back to the grindstone now! Have a good week, everyone. I appreciate you all stopping by to read me.

October 24, 2013

Two Sides of Millenial Dating

THE DOWNSIDE:
Dating is like navigating a minefield, and social media has amplified the minefield. Traditional dating etiquette has been abandoned in favour of quick hits and messy labels, facilitated by technology... think Tinder or the morally-dubious Ashley Madison, which encourages extra-marital affairs. Or being dumped via Facebook. We also covered 40 Days of Dating on this blog, about designer friends Jessica Walsh and Tim Goodman who embarked on an experimental 40 days of dating (sadly that didn't pan out). This brings the oft-asked question: is dating dead?

In this video, actors Autumn Stein and Matthew C. Flynn improvise a millenial relationship in 5 minutes. Side note: the guy almost DOES NOT blink throughout the video.



I think a relationship in this age still needn't be too complicated, unless we make it so. We usually attract what we're looking for... so if you're not looking for a serious relationship, it would be an unfair call to say that there aren't any good men/women in the world! Love, respect, trust, commitment, and humour matter, I say.

THE UPSIDE:
I absolutely dislike Zooey Deschanel for her Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG) character. However, here's a post from a writer on her humour website HelloGiggles on how to be your own perfect lover. Most of it is about learning how to love yourself first, but it lists and disproves most millenial dating expectations in short, neat and optimistic sentences. The article is a good reminder for us to be complete and reasonably secure in ourselves so that we don't seek validation from dating someone or expect that special someone to fix our flaws.

LAST WORDS:
Happy Thursday!

October 17, 2013

No Turning Back, No Turning Back

Most of my blog posts haven't been too personal... mostly me sharing all the lovely inspirations as a result of my rabid reading habit. However, as a young artist experimenting with form and medium, it is inevitable that my personal life and perceptions will colour my art from time to time, and so I will share.

It's with much, much joy that I've decided to return to Christianity. I say this with much excitement and trepidation at once... because I have been the epitome of the prodigal son. Almost ten years have eclipsed since I first began questioning God, becoming cynical and then leaving the faith, and progressively living an amoral life - very much a Dorian Gray. If I were to compare myself with an animal, I would be a wild stallion, needing its head, not submissive to any simple master's whip.

I am still so young in these matters, so I do not write to presume to convince anyone. My logic for believing is simple:
  • The atheist may posit that man is capable of distinguishing good from evil. 
  • Another posit is that morality is relative, and the concept of good and evil is enforced by society.
  • It is found that even babies know how to lie. If the innocents of our society know some form of deceit, then can we be any less blameless?
  • Who defines and enforces morality then?

The next question: whom to believe? I find the introduction of Aravind Adiga's "The White Tiger" amusing: the atheist protagonist states that, because it is a Hindu custom to start a story by praying to a Higher Power, he considers all gods and calculates that he has 36,000,004 gods to pray to. But I digress.

Again, my logic is simple. If I were to believe in a god that has the power to determine my ultimate fate, I would choose a god that is... (according to the principle of rationality and self-interest, to put a logical anchor):
  1. benevolent. (Who wants an angry or malevolent god?)
  2. the largest power in the universe. Because if he didn't create the universe - if he were merely an arranger or guardian of order, then there has to be a bigger power... which would mean that my god is a lesser being to whatever the bigger power is.
  3. unchanging in his nature and promise. The ancient Greek/Roman gods are an example in capriciousness e.g. they change their natures quickly - for example, Hera who is known for her jealous and vengeful nature (again, this points to the first point of benevolence).

If I were to believe in a god, I want to believe in a God that is omnipotent, omniscient, and all-powerful (Isaiah 43:10-11, Psalm 96:5). I want a God whose nature is unchanging (Psalm 90:2) and whose words were true when He first said them then and remain true today (Isaiah 40:8). More importantly, I want a God that loves and cares for me (John 3:16). I want a God that offers redemption... one to whom I can come to with all my flaws, weaknesses, and sins, and He offers life instead (Jeremiah 29:10-14).

And He has found me. This God who loves the "me" who was proud and reckless; I who am sick; and even I who tried to pit my logic against Him. Despite my weaknesses, I am slowly learning how to be joyful and submit all areas of my life to Him. I count it amazing that I am changing for the better, not because of my own human will, but because of His mercy... and thanks to my beautiful, faithful family and friends who have prayed for me all these years. 

On a footnote, I struggle with very bad insomnia. Not the type of "look, I can stay up 50 hours without sleeping"; more like "I've had a long day and worked out at the gym but it's 5 a.m. and I'm awake". One night as I lay tossing and turning, this verse came to me, and an image very strongly too (hyperactive imagination perhaps), but it has calmed me and helped me get some much-needed rest. I finally took some time today to sketch it out:


I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back. 



Amen, amen, and amen!

October 14, 2013

A Sunday Jaunt at Island East Markets

This weekend, my dear friend Soojeong and I decided to explore Island East Markets. Founded by food blogger Janice Leung and Hong Kong Markets Organisation manager Vince Poon, this Sunday market brings together local organic farmers, designers, craftsmen and bands. It runs from 11am - 6pm, and is easily found across Quarry Bay MTR Exit A, on Tong Chong Street. (Read more about the market's purpose here.)

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Weekend means time for a flowy skirt! Made using one of my favourite apps, Rhonna Designs.

The stalls were buzzing with activity. There was a small stage and artificial mini-lawn in the centre. The atmosphere reminded me of Stanley Market, albeit on a smaller scale. Yay to clear Hong Kong skies!

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Levain Bakery's wonderful breads greeting us upon arrival!

October 12, 2013

Lessons from Basquiat and Art



I just finished watching Basquiat, a biopic of the American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. It was a beautiful movie, and I was in tears at the end, considering the fact that Basquiat died of a heroin overdose aged 27 in 1988. The film was quite well-cast, with Jeffrey Wright imbuing Basquiat with a wonderful, natural joie de vivre , and David Bowie bringing the sublime Andy Warhol to life... (To be honest, it was somewhat surreal watching the movie with my David Bowie drawing staring at me from my noticeboard!) That Basquiat was directed by Julian Schnabel, himself a painter, probably resulted in a more sensitive depiction of Basquiat's life. However, it doesn't address the issues that Basquiat tried to portray in his art such as racism, class struggles, and colonialism; it charts his meteoric rise to fame in the art world and his casting as the token black artist of the times.

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October 11, 2013

5 Interesting Instagrammers You Should Follow

We're back on 5 Things Friday, with this week focusing on interesting Instagrammers! I love Instagram. It has to be one of my favourite apps, especially for obtaining visual inspiration. My current favourite type of Instagram photos is of food arranged in a neat manner... the Japanese and Scandinavians do it best I think!

This list spans all genres, so let's go!

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Santlov brings toys to life in great detail. What makes his photos so fun are his compositions and cultural references. The toys are arranged in natural settings - think Woody from Toy Story snapping food pics or a Stormtrooper cooking breakfast. The most recurring character is Woody, but I suppose that's because his expression is applicable to so many scenarios.

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Run by food bloggers Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park, this Instagram account features beautiful food styling and photography... hunger pangs guaranteed when scrolling through their gallery. Their blog, also of the same name, looks amazing too - I'm going to check out some of their recipes now!

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He is 85 years old, and claims the title of "Oldest Instagrammer". Whether that's accurate or not, Mr. Redstone's gallery is a charming window into days gone by. Follow this tech savvy octogenarian - he even has his first selfie! *awww*

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Kerstin, or Khiesti as she's known on Instagram, combines daily objects with her signature "little monster" to create adorable little stories. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face!

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French Cambodian photographer VuTheara Kham has a sharp eye for colour, perspective, and capturing that perfect tipping moment. He's also very good in capturing reflection, and his work is consistently amazing. Like most photographers, he travels a lot, and it's amazing to see the world through his lens.

And that's it! Who are your favourite Instagrammers?

October 9, 2013

Mark Rothko on the Recipe of a Work of Art

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Mark Rothko, No. 8


From his Pratt Institute address:
"The recipe of a work of art - its ingredients - how to make it - the formula.
  1. There must be a clear preoccupation with death - intimations of mortality...Tragic art, romantic art, etc. deals with the knowledge of death. 
  2. Sensuality. Our basis of being concrete about the world. It is a lustful relationship to things that exist. 
  3. Tension. Either conflict or curbed desire.
  4. Irony. This is a modern ingredient - the self-effacement and examination by which a man for an instant can go on to something else. 
  5. Wit and play... for the human element. 
  6. The ephemeral and chance... for the human element. 
  7. Hope. 10% to make the tragic concept more endurable.
I measure these ingredients very carefully when I paint a picture. It is always the form that follows these elements and the picture results from the proportions of these elements."

Image: here. 

October 6, 2013

Richard Feynman Explaining Rubber Bands Will Warm Your Heart

Just came across this video of the great theoretical physicist Richard P. Feynman explaining rubber bands! The video is part of BBC's Richard Feynman: Fun to Imagine Collection, a six-film series in which Feynman explains the physics present in our daily lives in a direct, easily-understood manner.


Richard Feynman (1918 - 1988) was an American theoretical physicist known for his work on path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, quantum electrodynamics theory, particle physics, and the physics of super-fluidity of super-cooled liquid helium. For his work on quantum electrodynamics, he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965 jointly with Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga. He was also involved in the Manhattan Project during World War II, through which the atomic bomb was developed.

Feynman as a child was highly curious about the world around him. During his lifetime as a physicist, he gained the moniker "The Great Explainer" for taking care to explain things  in an easily-understood manner. He was also opposed to rote learning / learning by memorization. Bearing that in mind, it's extra delightful to watch him in the video explaining how rubber bands work with such good spirit.

Hope this spurs you to find out more about the man, and enjoy exploring the wonderful world of physics if you haven't yet!

October 3, 2013

Charming Photo Series of Love Superhero

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Amsterdam-based photographer Maurice Heesen takes us on a charming journey featuring his creation Loveman. Loveman is portrayed by men at different stages in life, each dressed in a white costume with a red heart emblazoned on the torso, a cape, and a helmet. 

Upon first glance, the photos seem lighthearted and fanciful. According to Heesen however, the series is inspired by heartache and "the difficulty in continuing to listen to your heart and trust it, while it's often proven wrong". Loveman is both superhero and stuntman - representing the courage and daring one must summon to keep believing and pursuing love. 

Vincent van Gogh, my inspiration, once said,
"It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.” 

Are you willing to open yourself to love and be loved?

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Quote source: Modern Met
Images: Maurice Heesen 

October 1, 2013

What We Leave Behind

I came across two stories about art and death, but with different perspectives. 
"While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die." - Leonardo da Vinci, Renaissance Man
The first story is a massive installation called The Fallen, by British artists Jamie Wardley and Andy Moss. The Fallen is 9,000 human silhouettes drawn into the sand on the D-Day landing beach of Arromanches, Normandy, to commemorate the lives lost during D-Day

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A quick primer on D-Day: The date, 6 June 1944. The context: World War II. D-Day marks the first day of the Allied invasion of Normandy, also known as the Normandy landings. This invasion is significant for being the largest amphibious assault in history and for the deception involved (Adolf Hitler believed that the landings would occur to the north at the Pas-de-Calais). The Normandy landings were also a game changer in the timeline in WWII.

September 30, 2013

My IndieVerse Band Review on Snowmine is Out!... And More Music to Follow

I'm not sure if I mentioned it earlier, but I've been invited to be a Facebook admin and I suppose a freelance writer for indie music blog IndieVerse. My first article was on trip hop artist Saltillo (read it here). 

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This week, I'm covering Brooklyn-based ambient psychedelic pop band Snowmine. One of my absolute favourite songs is by them, titled "Let Me In". There's more to Snowmine than the average band I think, so check out my review on IndieVerse at the link below, and give IndieVerse some love on our Facebook page. Again, Mark, the man behind IndieVerse, always appreciates music suggestions, so drop by the Facebook page or comment on IndieVerse' site itself if you have any.

IndieVerse Band Review: Snowmine



Also on the musical front, I managed to cover Michael Nyman's beautiful song, "The Heart Asks Pleasure First", from the film "The Piano". I learnt it by ear many years ago - somehow I always thought it was from the soundtrack of one of my well-loved movies "The Pianist" but couldn't track the song, until I was stumbling around YouTube. (Yeah, Piano vs. Pianist - same same but different, as the popular T-shirt slogan goes...)


I think I'm going to try out song requests, just for fun and to widen my repertoire. If you have any songs you'd like to hear on the black and white keys, drop me a message/comment on YouTube or through this blog.

Much love,

September 29, 2013

Music Review: Your Hand In Mine from Greece

Not be confused with the popular song of the same name by Explosions in the Sky, Your Hand In Mine (YHIM) is a band of two friends from Thessaloniki, Greece. Manos plays the wurlitzer piano, melodica, toy piano, and ukulele and does the programming, while George plays the synth, mandolin, zither, glockenspiel and electronic percussion.

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Manos and George

Your Hand In Mine's sound is very unique - while not limited to a specific genre, their songs bring to mind french folk music and street musicians with acoustic instruments. When listening to them I feel like I'm at a Parisian cafe reading the papers / being a writer or a poet while having coffee or a glass of wine on a balmy Sunday afternoon. (Actually, maybe I should do that tomorrow in a cute cafe in Sheung Wan.) At other times, it feels as though the songs are taking you on a journey across fields in Europe. It also helps that their videos have really lovely, evocative pictures (thanks YouTube users too!). Check out the pretty, pretty pictures associated with their YouTube videos... which was how I discovered them, by clicking on videos with pretty thumbnails:

September 28, 2013

Talking About Mental Illness

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Sorrowing Old Man ('At Eternity's Gate'), oil on canvas. Vincent van Gogh, 1890.

Mental Illness Awareness Week will arrive in the US next week. Established in 1990 by Congress in recognition of the efforts of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Mental Illness Awareness Week is an occasion for mental health organisations and advocates to educate and reach out to the community through art/music events, health fairs, and benefit runs among others. 

I searched to see if Hong Kong had an equivalent programme in October but have yet to find any besides the annual Mental Health Month campaign. So I decided to write a little here... I think that talking about mental illness is important, even more so in Asia, where mental illness still carries fear and stigma. When we read about mental illness in the news, it's usually because a tragedy has occurred, for example, the Colorado shootings in 2012 by James Holmes, after which Holmes' mental state was immediately questioned. Words like "bipolar" or "schizophrenia" in the media are infused with fear by association with "violence" and "a risk to themselves and society" among others. In more primitive societies where psychiatry has yet to reach, mentally ill people are deemed as "possessed" and often excluded from society. (On the other hand, there is the anti-psychiatry movement; while not blindly following your doctor's orders and always being aware of your treatments is great, going after an entire field of medicine is a bit extreme.)

Mental illness affects us all
However, mental illness isn't limited to the man talking to himself on the street. It can happen to anyone - chances are that you might be struggling with mental illness yourself, or know someone who does. Understanding mental illness can be tricky because we can't see the illness unlike physical illnesses such as having a fever or asthma. It's not easy to explain sudden personality changes and certain behaviours that occur in those suffering from mental illness. Besides that, the causes of mental illness have yet to be pinpointed to exact physiological or environmental factors and genes. However, we need to realise that mental illness is a disease of the brain, instead of a disease of character. Then, we can create safe spaces for those suffering from mental illness to talk and seek help.

What we can do 
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I think Healthy Place's Natasha Tracy has two great articles on how to initiate dialogue on mental illness if you are a patient or know someone who is. Natasha's blog deals mainly with bipolar disorder but these pointers are undoubtedly helpful:

This is a concise and useful article by Stephen Altrogge of Sovereign Grace Church Indiana for those suffering from mental illness and Christian ministries in dealing with mental illness: The Blazing Center: Let’s Talk About Mental Illness

On an end note, if you're based in Hong Kong and are struggling with mental illness, or even severe grief or depression, please seek help from the links below. I know that Hong Kong is a speed-crazy place, and slowing down to get help might seem counter-productive to the ten thousand things we have to do in a space of 24 hours, but I encourage you to take care of yourself first. You are not alone, and you CAN get better.

Images: here, here.