Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Artworks in progress



By Joel Ferraris

It seems amusing, yet annoying to a certain degree, to see people all over the city enjoying their seemingly "private moments" loudly in public. This display of privacy unpopular during my childhood days seems to be part of Darwin's Theory of Evolution yet to be studied by experts. This could be another stage of Darwinian Evolution where homo sapiens will eventually mutate into big-headed aliens with smaller extremities.

Here, in the full view of the public, people are so engrossed in their private conversations (and so am I), digital games, text messages and internet surfing or pry on other people's privacy through digital cameras strategically concealed.

Nowadays all things digital, remote control or sent via internet or the satellites has succeeded in compelling people to use keyboards instead of beautiful penmanship or cameras instead of sincere eye-to-eye contact. Even baby-sitting seem to go hi-tech that the much-needed warmth of the human touch are now being replaced by something else.

This acrylic painting on small, circular canvases depict people holding modern gadgets. The whole set function as a version of the game of chess adapting to the digital age where men and women with computers represent the kings and queens respectively. The people holding mobile phones sending text messages are the bishops while kids with portable play stations are the horses. On the four corners are people with their video cameras and represent the rooks. All other pieces that serve as pawns are the men and women with mobile phones busy talking.

This idea was derived from my previous paintings entitled SALEPAWNS 1 & 2 in the past that depict people who use celfones as pawns of companies in the global business competition.

Encapsulated inside plastic bubbles, these pieces are equipped with magnets to enable playing the game of chess while the artwork hangs on the wall. This makes the whole artpiece interactive and probably the guests of the one who will collect this will enjoy doing one strategic move everytime they visit their friend's house.

Furthermore, a mahjong tabletop outer frame completes the idea that this is a game of chance. (Also see ALIBI)

The whole artpiece encapsulates a deeper idea about the state of global business or global politics and strategies where all advanced technologies available are used to make one business group or country leap forward far more advanced than others.

I hope I'm wrong to imagine that the world today is in a state of stronger competition where sensitivity to other peoples' human feelings are gradually eroded and ignored what with the new kind of scientific and technological reality we are in.

As wars are being fought hi-tech, wherein one push of a button sends heartless and soulless bombs or weapons to the battlefields, bloodshed could be justified simply because of the new scientific breakthrough in inventing artificial blood to meet future demands for it. And with the recent breakthrough in quantum teleportation, battle-hardened and trigger-happy armies could be deployed in a blink of an eye right beside you while you are praying for your dear life.

I was once involved in bloody fraternity wars in our university. But one vital pause-for-a-moment-and-think reminded me of the importance of God the Father Almighty's message of love and that deterred me from hitting the enemy to the disgust of my frat brothers.

What about in the real battlefield where more people are becoming godless or have a twisted sense of religion or spirituality?

Inspired by computer games and trained in the guise of building corporate team-spirit through sporty war games using airsoft weaponry and simulating real combats people nowadays, even professionals or members of religious groups, are unknowingly making themselves available for future battles. They unknowingly allow their minds to be preconditioned through subtle ways of military training. It would be not that hard anymore, I suppose, to accept the seemingly inevitable hi-tech human conflicts or maybe people are just preparing to face robots as enemies.

With a lot of people I met now in doubt or completely not believing in God the Father Almighty and twisting His statutes, there's no doubt that one day, in one way or the other, we will fall victims to their senseless and deadly game while they intrude into our precious privacy just to pry, to buzz and to see to win in their game.

(Kindly visit FREE FLOW to see more artpieces of this series)


By Joel Ferraris

My first time in Hong Kong was marked by memories of a city so compact that I wondered how this place is able to organize itself in so small an area with so large a population. My eyes myopically judged what I have seen as I noticed the high-rise structures all over the place when I and my wife traveled from the old airport in the middle of the city to her rented flat.

It was later that I realized there were still some vacant lands and rolling hills with greenery around. And little did I understand then that underneath these hills and mountains lie a network of roads and railroads for mass transport. That was in 1996 and now a lot has changed especially when more train routes were added as construction firms dig tunnels underneath the ground away from the eyes of the busy public. My engineer friends tell interesting stories of how these tunnels and bridges were built as we drink beer or wine and play the guitar.

As I went down one of the train subway station in Admiralty, I found myself in-between two train lines and, watching how the crowd race from one waiting train to the other, I suddenly thought of an idea for a painting. That was rush hour and, with the daily Hong Kong horse racing news, I thought of the parallelism between the hordes of people from the opposite directions running to board the other train and the horses I saw on TV.

Usually I enjoyed daydreaming of ideas as they hover inside my mind. And then, as if harvesting them one by one, I either have them recorded in my brain or scribbled on a piece of paper and kept in my pocket. When that moment comes I have that feeling I have to hurry back to my studio to start painting. This outburst of inspiration is usually triggered whenever I am in an art gallery or museum seeing excellent art.

RACES ZOOM presents my idea on how I perceive Hong Kong where a lot of people from different countries contribute to the vibrancy and competitiveness of the place. Their presence qualifies Hong Kong to be called a world city. The past-paced but organized and convenient life, with its efficient mass transport here, is the life-blood of this city.

But the unseen undercurrents of racism remains a threat to the existence of this melting pot if left unchecked. Likewise, mispronouncing this title I chose, RACES ZOOM, could spark a ticklish topic about racism the same way we mispronounce other people's dialects or misinterpret their gestures and trigger misunderstanding.

I have lived here for a decade now and I have observed how people of different nationalities blended with one another as we all try to live in harmony. In the Admiralty MTR station, where my inspiration for this painting was conceived, I observed that the glass doors and walls minimized the rush hour rhythm and deaths on railroad tracks, I suppose, the same way that sounds barriers along critical sections of highways give us our good night sleep.


By Joel Ferraris

It's no longer just on Christmas trees or during the Christmas season only that you will see twinkling lights. In cities, where living high-rise allow people to select dwellings according to altitude to have better panoramic views or avoid pollution at certain levels, both distant and nearby scenery are dotted not by trees but by windows of nearby buildings. It is very amusing to see how the view changes depending on the time of the day or night where windows are lit in different shades twinkle in the dark skies.

With the excessive use of mobile phones wherein some people own more than one unit, I am inclined to imagine how busy they are talking, texting, or even playing and taking pictures using their latest model, top-of-the-line gadgets. One can only imagine how the faces of people look as they talk, expressing all sorts of emotions depending on how they receive or send their messages to the other end of the line.

Seeing all these city windows and multiplying them by a certain number one will have an idea of how many people live in the city. Multiply this population by another number and one could imagine how many mobile phones are being used. Taxi and van drivers have two to three units each. How about if there are six of you in the family?

I wonder if people, with the proliferation of gadgets of communication, are more likely to achieve deeper, mutual understanding to reach the ultimate goal of peace and harmony and finally find answers to life's many questions. If not, then this advancement that facilitate communication and freedom of expression might have only added to the confusion in people's thoughts or have hardened their hearts geared towards heightened threat to human existence as evidenced by nuclear proliferation.

With all these preoccupation and wrong focus in life there are more vital and profound things that people might have missed as they run the ratrace.

The care for their children and to set the example of morality are threatened by wrong priorities. Even worst, the hardened heart and busy mind looking the other way cannot accept the Words of God the Father Almighty, for His Wisdom has to be accepted with childlike innocence, dependence and faith. Here the two feeding bottles painted in a subtle manner represent the idea of innocence and humility.

This diptych could be arranged on the wall either side-by-side or one on top of the other, or better yet, hung individually on any available wall.


By Joel Ferraris

This acrylic on canvas painting serves as a record of my childhood memories when my father usually brings me and my siblings to our farm in Iloilo in Western Visayas, Philippines. That hilly place is near the newly constructed Iloilo International Airport. The rolling hills are dotted with mango trees bearing fruits that are among the best in the country. The thought that here in Hong Kong I buy our farm's produce is funny.

Part of our childhood fun with my siblings and cousins was to hunt for birds and climb up fruit trees at the risk of being attacked by the bees and wasps. One uncle of mine even fell from a very tall coconut palm when he was attacked by fire ants. Miraculously he wasn't hurt by that fall as he safely landed on thick pile of dried leaves that served as cushions.

The mango tree is the favorite at that time for climbing because people will surely be enticed by the sweet smell of ripe mangoes during harvest season. Targeting a fruit to pick was initially done on the ground where one has to look up and search for ripe, golden yellow mangoes that tend to play hide-and-seek behind leaves and vines dancing in the wind. Once the fruits are taken that's when we start savoring its sweet taste especially because it was naturally ripened in its branches.

Once, when I was busy preparing coffee seedlings, I started to feel hungry. By just listening to the leaves dancing in the wind their tune were frequently interrupted by crushing sounds of something hitting the thick grass and dried leaves around. Falling ripe fruits are a welcome sight to remind me of snack time.

It really feels good to eat this untouched fresh-from-the-tree fruit without having the thought that the first bite was enjoyed by fruit bats the previous night.