Introduction to Series Plato
In the series Plato, I explore visually the structure of concepts – a process Rudolph Arnheim terms “Visual Thinking" and Nelson Goodman expounds on in The Language of Art:An Approach to A Theory of Symbols.
To reveal the world of concepts by the sparest of means, I need a simple vocabulary and syntax. Thus I limit the set of my buildings blocks to bars and sticks.
The bars, due to their simple but robust shapes and forms, may represent any phenomenon in the perceived world. With color and texture, I may divulge a bit about the inner characteristics of the phenomenon itself. For instance, in The Human Condition, the roughened, patchy, yellow-moldy black surface of the top bar is intended to suggest the perceived time-battered state of the human soul.
By linking phenomena in a certain way, we form concepts of the world in endless attempts to make sense of it. Thus the bars are not shown in isolation. It is through their spatial positioning, through the stick-by-stick linkage, that I establish the relationship between them, a process that allows the underlying concept to emerge. Thus in Escape from Karma, the string of sticks laid out in a vortex and linking two bars at the bottom half of the picture encapsulates the concept of circular cause-and-effect, of reincarnation. The top vortex links however no bars, and thus denotes freedom from karma.
Basically, a phenomenon by itself can never completely render a concept. There is no such thing as a “mad phenomenon” in and by itself. It is when our mind sees two or more phenomena as being engaged in an incongruent, conflict-fraught relationship that the concept of “madness” arises.
By deploying sticks in an infinite number of twists and turns, by linking and de-linking bars of various textures, I seek to compose pictorially the relationships inherent in concepts.
Unlike the abstract expressionists, the only emotion I wish to bring forth is the cool Eureka feeling that accompanies the discovery that something complex can be rendered simple - as in a mathematical equation.