The following is inspired by a piece by Gerald Leow on display as part of his solo exhibition at Chan+Hampe Contemporary until June 25.
On a material level, Manifold is simple: a dynamic, radiating metal sculpture made of copies of the same jagged line. These lines are like flattened appendages of a predatory insect, or sentences written in a spiky font. The pieces are colored asymmetrically; seven tones shifting between purple and orange. Manifold is bold, yet delicate-- an opening and a threat. Leow has been quoted as saying that he wanted to create works which are poetically violent. He has succeeded. Manifold is a beautiful but deadly tropical flower, 76 x 76 x 17cm
The “edginess” of the sculpture is literal; the aggressive shapes on the edges of the lines form negative spaces which complete the piece. These edges are appropriated from the font and logo used by Judas Priest, a heavy metal band. Leow, who studied sociology, has a body of work based on the logo and the conceptual possibilities of heavy metal subculture. With Manifold, however, the link to heavy metal is not obvious, thankfully. Appropriation can be a one-trick pony; what is insightful and magical initially can later become an unrewarding burden for both artist and audience.
The exhibition’s title adds another dimension. I am Time Grown Old to Destroy the World refers to a comment Robert Oppenheimer made in 1945, when he witnessed the detonation of his brainchild, the first atomic bomb. The phrase is from the Mahabharata, specifically the Bhagavad Gita. A passage of 700 verses, the Gita documents the exchange between Prince Arujuna and Lord Krishna as they discuss war, duty and moral confusion.
Southeast Asian artwork made of mild steel, automotive paint and western pop culture. It is real. It has universal significance. Manifold is an artwork worthy of its most serious sources of inspiration: the Mahabharata and the atomic bomb.
Manifold from Leow's exhibition at Chan+Hori Contemporary Gallery in Singapore
I am elaborating upon this essay, including other projects of Gerald's as well as some of our collaborations and personal experiences. The result will be included in red dot SAD which is updated periodically.
This past weekend SD(Suitcase Delicious) and I began serious work on the Bubiko Foodtour blog. For now we are using an iPhone and a toy doll, but plans for an original character are underway. Initially we are focusing on the food of Southeast Asia. The posts are entertaining and informative. Augmented reality and 3D animation ideas are also being discussed and refined.
For now, we are developing ways to offer value to fans of Bubiko. A new website with a store is being planned.
The Bubiko Foodtour blog is here.
bitter gourd soup
A list of Bubiko's blog posts can be found here.
I have been based in Singapore since 2002 and am in the midst of an extended stay in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. During this time I am collecting experiences and research for a book. My time here has clearly shown that
The well known reasons for this are:
1. Increasing/planned integration with Singapore: trains (local and high speed), bridges,increasing numbers of Johoreans in Singapore, increasing numbers of Singaporeans in JB.
2. Lower rental fees than Singapore.
3. Lower cost of living than Singapore.
4. Developed by Chinese investors, the Forest City megaproject is expected to eventually have 700,000 residents who will live on four artificial islands.That is the same population of Geneva.
5. Iskandar Malaysia, the Malaysian government’s project to upgrade the entire region,demonstrates that Johor Bahru can re-invent itself.
Having experienced the “reality on the ground”, the possibilities of JB become even more obvious. Outlying or unused industrial areas encourage innovation of all kinds, despite their challenges. In Singapore: The Artists Village. In Beijing:798 Art Zone. In New York City; Soho, The East Village and Brooklyn. IT people, food visionaries, unconventional international citizens and entrepreneurs of all kinds will all soon to discover the possibilities of the new JB. Imagineering is here!
Hello Starbucks and Dior.
the sculpture in the image above is Coccoon, by Alvin Tan on display at Puteri Harbour
We were sitting on the chairs in front of the wood burning stove when they materialized. Their arms were like Japanese Easter eggs. Finally, the young man stopped with his thumbs and looked up from his phone. On top of his peppery skull was a filet of pink hair. Circular wire eyeglasses, yellow irises. He moved his head a little, then reached for the curry puffs. Started eating before he paid. The girl took hers without looking up.
The man behind the counter smiled sincerely, thanked them. Behind him, a wall was full of photos and newspaper clippings, most from when the man’s hair and beard weren’t white. Near the cash register: two playful photos of him and his wife at the Taj Mahal. Once, at the 123 Cafe, he'd told me that theirs was an arranged marriage. She passed away. Lung cancer. He didn’t say more.
The chairs we are in are comfortable. I am eating a piece of cream bread, she is chewing and studying her red bean puff. Saluddhin’s bakery has an authenticity that would usually capture my attention, but now I cannot help thinking about a game called Firewatch. It’s about a man living alone in the forests of Wyoming, a man whose wife may have early-onset dementia.
I am on target to finish a 50,000 word book by the end of May.The setting is Johor Bahru, a city that borders Singapore. There are other excerpts on this blog, but if you'd like to see the latest edited draft, drop me a line. I am excited about this and determined to stay on schedule.
so far, the best introduction to this project....
Touching JB is being crowdfunded... thanks for thinking of it...