Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Opening Reception: Signs, Symbols and Icons

The “Signs, Symbols and Icons” exhibition was launched last Saturday (23rd July 2011) to an adequate crowd, which was held at the Galeri Chandan, Bukit Damansara. I was one of the eager patrons who attended the opening reception. The exhibition highlights three young promising artists, Anisa Abdullah, Najib Ahmad Bamadhaj and Hirzaq Harris. Each individual successfully came up with their own rendition and insights regarding the concept of signs, symbols and icons, each with their own methods and techniques.

Marilyn Monroe was an icon during her glorious yesteryears, and that was what Anisa Abdullah is trying to imply into her works, famous and perhaps classic icons. Alongside the famous sex symbol, Anisa also focuses her insights on classic western cars that had been such crazed subjects for most automobiles enthusiastic all around the world. Not to forget, her interpretation on our local famous streets and their stories such as the “Jalan Lebuh Ampang”. The young artist experimented with collage to create forms using used materials, mainly magazines.

On the other hand, Najib Ahmad Bamadhaj’s “Polo” sends a bold yet very subtle message about the differences of classes in a society. As we know, Polo is a sport for the wealthy, and it has become a symbol representing the upper class. The artist tries to demolish this established believe by putting the image of the Polo player on an image of a wall. According to him, a wall is the favored medium for street art, like graffiti, and it represents the lower class. By combining these two, he claimed that he wants to reinforce the belief that everyone and classes should be equal and given the rights to certain privileges.

Most of Hirzaq Harris’ works has been influenced by the classic oriental style, as well as the classic Japanese style painting during the feudal era. There are Chinese symbols and characters written in some of his works, that according to him, those symbols tell the ancient stories and fables of the Chinese folklore. His main focus is the detail drawing of technical diagrams like from an interior of machines, and he applies them inside the images of classic icons and symbols that represent the ancient Japanese and Chinese cultures. These are the dragon, kabuki, samurai and a Buddha. He uses technical pens, acrylics and bitumen on canvas.

The exhibition ends on 29th July 2011. Another exhibition is on its way this august which entitles “Kalimah” and obviously focuses on Islamic art, which is appropriate with the oncoming Ramadhan. “Kalimah” starts on 10th of August and ends on 26th August 2011.

Video on the opening reception will be uploaded soon.

Najib Ahmad Bamdhaj - Polo

Mixed media on canvas

Anisa abdullah - Marilyn Monroe

paper collage on canvas

Hirzaq Harris - Beyond Kabuki

Mixed Media on canvas

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Vonnegut’s 8 Rules For Writing a Short Story

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Urbanscapes 2011

It’s been three days, and I’m still bragging about the good times I had at Urbanscapes. It was my perfect Saturday. The warm feeling of being surrounded by friendly fellow countrymen was priceless. It’s not like every day a stranger comes up to you and asked to pose for a photograph together. Armed with a borrowed D90 and a Holga, but unfortunately with only one roll of film, I wandered through the colorful delights for almost 6 hours.

Once I’m at the entrance, I was greeted with smiles and warm hospitalities from the ticket crew, early indication that I will mostly enjoy the rest of the day there. Further into the area, I was met with a row of stalls and booths ranging from art crafts, fashion, vintage clothing, badges, handbooks, soaps, eco knights and many more. I stopped at every booth, snapped a few pictures and asked for their business cards. There was one thing in particular that really caught my fullest attention, a full size body armor at the eco knight’s booth. I’m a big fan of the medieval history. Then I made my way to the field which was already packed with eager patrons, as eager as I was.

Just as I entered the area, my foot stepped on something soft and made a squishing sound. I looked down and to my disliking; the field was wet and muddy. It was raining earlier that morning. It’ll have to take more than wet grass and mud to stop me from enjoying myself, so I kept on going until I reached the Junkyard stage. There were two Indian dudes, up on the stage, hip-hop battling in Tamil. A little bit awkward for me because it’s my first time watching it in Tamil but nonetheless, it’s entertaining and the crowd loved it. I stayed a while for another performance by SSK, a local hip-hop act, performing their hit, “Aku benci”. Then I moved on to the next area. There was another stage, bigger than the Junkyard and a larger crowd too. It was TMnet’s stage and the band that was performing stopped me in my track. They sounded just like Explosion in The Sky, which is also one of my favorite bands. Written big in the screen above them, The Metaphor, that was the name of the band. I stayed for another good 20 minutes enjoying the energy and the beautiful tunes presented up on the stage.

The day was getting late and hot at the same time; I stopped at a drink stall and bought a refreshing “Sirap Bandung” for one Ringgit. As I was enjoying myself, sipping the cold milky beverage, my ears caught something. A very familiar voice speaking over the speakers nearby, I knew that voice from somewhere but couldn’t really figure it out. I walked towards the commotion, and to my delight, there he was, Patrick Yeoh, with the rest of the Actorlympics crew, Douglas Lim, Nell Ng, Rashid Salleh and Kuah Jenhan. Despite the wet and muddy ground, I sat down and start laughing, like everybody else. Did I mention that I never check out the schedule? It’s because I like surprises. Patrick Yeoh and his crew is one of the pleasant surprises that I got that day. We were entertained with various games that the actors had to improvise their skills with. My favorite was the “freeze” game where it starts with two actors and they have to act a scene given by the audience. During their act, another player can cut in by saying “freeze!” and the actors that are acting have to freeze. The new player comes in and taps on the back of any actors he or she wants to replace and they can act a new scene.

The game started with Rashid Salleh and Nell Ng, where they had to act a scene in the shower together. It was awkward for them as well for the audience. At first Rashid moaned and sighed as Nell was scrubbing his body, then suddenly she shouted “Aboy!!” and he replied “sorry mommy, too much internet”. The whole crowd with the rest of the Actorlympics laughed as hard as we could. The mood of the act changed drastically. A very good improvising. Sadly, the show didn’t last as long as I hoped for. As they were chilling out backstage, I saw an opportunity. With a silly grin I asked ‘uncle’ Patrick if I can take a photo with them, a perfect Saturday indeed.

As an analogue photography enthusiastic, I spent quite some time at both klickr and Million Happy Faces. Then I had lunch which was a packet of char kue tiao and cendol. I walked around for hours, snapped a few photos, filled my tummy with delicious desserts and interact with friendly people until my legs finally gave up and I made my way home around 8PM. Wish I could stay longer but I was too exhausted. I’m looking forward for next year’s Urbanscapes. It was the best 40 Ringgit I ever spent on.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Signs, Symbols and Icons

Signs, symbols and Icons are visual shorthand for communicating universal concepts with much more richness than words alone. Also culturally, they are considered as values, beliefs and traits that portray certain individuals and societies. They form characters that determine social structure.

There are many descriptions and explanations regarding on signs. Culturally, it can be described as an omen that gives indications of things that will occur at certain place and time in the future, a premonition. Certain cultures around the globe still hold this belief even in this modern era. These omens can be perceived as persons, events, animals, and objects whether it’s man made or natural. For example, in some cultures, the presence of black cats and crows are indication of something bad, or bad luck will occur. Either to individuals or a group of people, it is known as bad omen. Even in our own culture, there are beliefs with the presence of these signs that can lead to certain events in the future. A butterfly inside a house is an omen that someone will visit the homeowner. In terms of communications, forms of signs like hand gestures, images, body movements, scents and sounds can be used to established an understanding between individuals or parties. These sign languages can be directly to the point or delivered with hidden messages that can only be understood by the receivers only. Visually, signs can be used to identify, give instructions and give information to societies. In the field of graphic designs, the effectiveness of signs is very crucial and important to the society. Signage and road signs are good examples of visual signs.

On the other hand, symbols are just like signs, they stand for something but with more layers and richer in meanings. In Greek the word symbol means “image”. They may represent individuals, societies, parties, events, idealisms, moral values or religions. The name of each person on this planet is a symbol representing the individuals themselves. Symbols can appear in many forms, objects, persons, names, places, dates, events, and visual signs. For examples, American actress and singer, Marilyn Monroe was considered as sex symbol during her glorious years. It was her appearance, social life and the people around her that gave the impression of her being a sex symbol. In fact, many of public figures from different eras were considered as symbols to lot of idealism, moral values and certain cultures. Different symbols have different meanings in different cultures. For examples, Ernesto Che’ Guevara was the symbol of hope, resistance, freedom to some Cubans but for the rest of the world, he’s the symbol of terrorism. Visual symbols, like the swastika, it is a religious symbol for the Buddhists, a symbol of eternity but to the fanatics of Nazi idealism, it’s the unconquerable and power. Today, it represents racism and hate. Symbols are perceived differently for different individuals and societies.

Meanwhile, Icons represent something that has sacred significant and values, important, loved, worshipped and followed by certain individuals, cultures, societies, place or a period in history. Most icons that are being followed are mostly important figures and persons. For example, Andy Warhol the icon of pop art that took the 60s era by storm with his avant-garde contemporary art, from paintings to art movies. Even his famous Marilyn Monroe’s print has become an icon for the movement. Both Leonardo Da Vinci and his famous painting Monalisa are both icons of the Renaissance art movement, even until today. It’s hard to exclude these two when mentioning about the movement. Icons give impact. That is how to determine the worthiness of the subjects if ever to be considered as icons, especially in art movements. Not only in art, even other fields, there will always be icons that represent the subjects and followed or loved by individuals and societies, and certainly not just persons, it may be objects or works.

These three act as important elements in human communication and can be described as values and sometimes religious or cultural traits that determine certain individuals, parties and societies. Their existence in art has helped its movement through the ages and gives birth to a lot styles and philosophies.

Galeri Chandan is having an exhibition regarding this subjects.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

corruption is immortal

corruption is immortal. take down a regime, a new one rises. it's all the same. power cannot survive without money and corruption. it's the way of the world, no matter how hard you try to fix it.

sorry, i had to say something.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Blonde Redhead - Falling man

Tell me how you seek your man
And tell me all your secret spells
Tell me how you learn
To tell by his voice that he fell

I know a ghost will walk through the wall
Yet I am just a man still learning how to fall

Try to re-imagine me
And I’ll re-invent myself
Still I remember scenes
Of when you looked at someone else

I know a ghost can walk through the wall
Yet I am just a man still learning how to fall

If you start doubting me
Then I start to doubt myself
And never look through me
Cause I’ll keep close to myself

I know a ghost can walk through the wall
Yet I am just a man still learning how to fall

I am what I am
And what I am is who I am
I know what I know
And all I know is that I fell
If only I could walk through the wall
Then maybe I would tell you who I was
Yet I am just a man still learning how to fall
Yet I am just a man still learning how to fall

Sunday, July 3, 2011

it's all in vain.

at some point you will realize that you have done too much for someone, that the only next possible step to do is to stop. Leave them alone, walk away. it's not like you're giving up, and shouldn't try. It's just that you have to draw the line of determination from desperation. What is truly yours would eventually be yours, and what is not, no matter how hard you try, will never be.

Chemistry of Death

A human body starts to decompose four minutes after death. The body, once the encapsulation of life, now undergoes its final metamorphoses. It begins to digest itself. Cells dissolve from the inside out. Tissue turns to liquid, then to gas. No longer animate, the body becomes an immoveable feast for other organisms. Bacteria first, then insects. Flies. Eggs are lain, then hatch. The larvae feed on the nutrient rich broth, and then migrate. They leave the body in orderly fashion, following each other in a neat procession that always heads south. South east or south west sometimes, but never north. No one knows why.”

This is the first paragraph from the first chapter of the book, “Chemistry of Death” written by a British author Simon Beckett. It is probably one of the best crime thriller novels ever written, according to my opinion of course. I’ve read it like 5 times already and looking forward to turn its pages again. It’s that addictive. I bought it like 6 years ago, in a bookstore in Mahkota Parade, Malacca. I can’t remember either it was Popular or MPH. The first thing that caught my attention was the tagline; AFTER 30 SECONDS YOUR SKIN BEGINS TO CRAWL. AFTER ONE MINUTE YOUR HEART IS IN YOUR MOUTH. Of course I wanted my skin to crawl when I read a thriller, and the reviews on the back cover were intriguing enough. Without thinking twice I bought it for RM30 something, I can’t really recall.

Once I read the first paragraph, I knew I’ve found my new favorite bedtime book. I couldn’t put it down and couldn’t stop turning the pages, yearning for more. The characters were convincing enough with their strong background stories and personalities. As a hardcore fan for this sub-genre, I found the plots were written in such gloomy yet unnerving narration, my kind of reading materials. Also, it reminded me of the classic X-Files series, with all the bizarre murders, psychopath, and morbid information of human decomposing process, grotesque details of mutilations and a lot of post mortem scenes.

Here’s the synopsis, it’s a story about a former forensic expert DAVID HUNTER who moved from London to a small remote Norfolk Village after a tragedy that nearly destroyed him. He wanted to run from the ghosts of his past and seek new beginning in this rural heaven. Life was perfect for him, for a while. Serving as the town’s only doctor, almost every townsfolk is no stranger to him. All of that changed after they found remains of SALLY PALMER, a writer who, like David himself, seeks refuge in this remote getaway to start writing her new book. The poor woman was mutilated beyond recognition; they could only identify her by the dental records. Local police was baffled by this sinister tragedy. That’s where David came into the picture, lending his expertise and experiences identifying and profiling for the psychopath.

From there the plot unfolds and develops until at the end uncovers a shocking truth. Like I said, it’s almost impossible to put this masterpiece down. This is SIMON BECKETT’s first novel. “Chemistry of Death” is the first book in the David Hunter’s Series, followed by three more titles, “Written in bone”, “Whispers of the dead” and “The Calling of the grave”. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to acquire the remaining three books, yet. They’ve been in my wish list for a long time now. My advice, get a copy; it’s not something that should be missed by any thriller fan out there.