Thursday, January 26, 2012

There comes a time in one's work where it feels like you're teasing at the edge of madness. Where you are living in a movie, and things aren't quite what they seem. Like you've slipped through some rabbit hole, unknowingly, as you toiled through the night.

Its a precarious place. A dimension simultaneously between waking and dreaming.

I recently discovered that pictures taken in moonlight, saturated by long exposure, are somehow richer than those blasted by the rays of the sun. Its as if, in moonlight, objects are allowed a place of rest, to be themselves, to emanate their inner qualities. Their true colors.

These days, I prefer the solitude and quiet of the night to the gregariousness of the day. Ran than feeling blinded by the darkness, I feel as though I can see through things. Beyond the facades and surfaces. No displays, no pretensions, no distractions.

To be able to live in true darkness is a privilege afforded by the jungle. What little light there is surrounds the human dwellings. We are technically creatures of the day, fearful of the dark. And hence, we deprive ourselves of its secrets--and its wisdom.

In these circumstances, what little artificial light there is can blind you to the world beyond its reach. Ironic that illumination can be a source of darkness.

Here is a photograph of the lake behind Larry (the pooch on the porch above). I shot it just moments before meeting him that same night.

I guess I've always been a fan of subtlety. Of saying more in revealing less. Of teasing the audience, making the role of viewing an active engagement of the imagination. 

These days, as artists in a world deprived of art education, we have to teach our audiences to see. Most children are not taught how to read paintings, photographs, sculpture. Many have no experience of making it themselves, and so have no insight into what makes art valuable. Half the message is in the process the object conveys. I believe this truly. 

Yet, unless we use we use the medium of the vernacular like television, popular music and movies, we are speaking in a foreign language. And even then, if we want them to be moved at a deeper level, we have to take them by the hand and walk with them through the work. Just as my calligraphy teacher would teach me, by letting me experience the ink strokes one after another, hand in his. 

I was born on Oahu, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Within two weeks of my birth, I was crossing that ocean to Asia. Throughout my life, I would continue to criss cross between islands and continents. Now, as my work takes me to different countries, integrating different written languages into the fabric of the paintings and projections, I am challenged to speak across cultures as well. I feel as though I am sewing the earth together, just as I might unite different parts of myself.

Perhaps that is why I now find myself drawn to the night. Something about letting down our hair, letting down the curtain, letting down our guard. In sleep, we become vulnerable but also intrinsically honest. In this state, the subconscious rules. And the subconscious is the true judge of art. Intuition, that place behind the theatrics of logic, is the only trump card we have to education. If we listen to it, it will lead us to what is true.

And that place of truth is what makes art a universal language.


  1. What a lovely post Minette. Your insight into darkness have given me a a peek into an ignored dimension, one which we either have suppressed or as you say, neglected out of fear. Thanks for sharing. Lim KF

  2. This is exquisite. Vulnerable, open, soft. I have always been drawn to the dark, FullEmpty silence and solitude of night, fascinated by the secrets it keeps, a lover of what is hidden and lies beneath. Some have said that being born under a full moon in Scorpio imprinted me with innate fascination for darkness, death, mystery, secrets, the unknown. Who knows. Regardless, I deeply appreciate all you express here -- and how beautifully you express it, both through words and evocative, lovely images. Thank you, Minette. Much love.