Continuing my exploration of individuals and collectives, loneliness and separation, my recent trip to Japan allowed me to reflect on the meaning of human civilisations. When I visited the war ruins in Hiroshima, Japan, I was deeply touched by every relic and remnant of the past. Humankind has a history of waging wars for various self-righteous reasons yet fails to learn from the aftermath and consequences of mass destruction, so our cruel history continues to repeat itself again and again. During this time of uncertainty, I used ceramic vases to convey humankind’s conflict and civilisation’s fragility. The exquisite craftsmanship of each vase symbolises human wisdom and civilisation, yet the fragile nature of ceramics makes one question whether civilisation furthers humanity’s progression.
I incorporated the facade of buildings into my paintings on ceramic vases as they symbolise the development of human civilisation. Every window tells a different life story. The windows lined up together represent the life of living in a collective, whilst those scattered in the corners represent individuals living alone. All the windows are separate from each other yet connected in their way, similar to the essence of human beings as we live in close proximity, yet we are alone. In the book, The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm, he explains how humans establish relationships with the intent of overcoming and eliminating their fear of separateness and loneliness. However, the advancement of technology has turned all of this into a false proposition, as people who live together no longer share the same connection they once had. Technology has replaced real-world social interactions with online communication, and people in today’s world seem to enjoy a life of seclusion much more.
The introduction of smartphones has made it easier for us to kill time and escape the fear of being alone. Part of the exhibited works is a series of framed drawings emulating small windows the size of our mobile phones. The size of the screens in our hands seems to determine the size of our world. Relying on the technology in our hands, we no longer fear loneliness or worry about separateness. Is the progression of science and technology the solution to our loneliness or another step towards it?
Only through self-growth and inner abundance can the fear of loneliness be fully overcome. The nine independent windows displayed in the exhibition can be understood as a manifestation of a harmonious society whilst highlighting the beauty of each individual’s wonderful life when viewed separately. It is unnecessary to question or deny others’ way of life as individuals and the collective have their unique way of getting along. Humankind is a collective which shows the brilliance of cooperation, whilst the freedom of individuality allows each person to prosper at their own pace. Similarly, there is no need to be afraid in the face of fragile human civilisation and emotionality. Stay loyal to the window you belong to, stay true to yourself and allow how you move forward to determine how you will live in order to fulfil your pursuits. Perhaps it will benefit everyone to bid farewell to humankind’s worldly ambitions.