October 24, 2013

Two Sides of Millenial Dating

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.

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.

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.