Saturday, September 24, 2011

This obsession with Beauty, or The Invertebrate Venus

Hey ya'll

The following piece happened indirectly because of a certain competition I was interesting in taking part in called "Science meets Art". The competition, which is a collaborative effort between the Goethe-Institute of Malaysia and the National Science Center was meant to evoke the artistic merit in the scientific world around you. Specifically the questions asked were;

1. How does science affect us in today's world?
2. What is your effect on science through your art and lifestyle
3. Can science be art?
4. How can you express this creatively?

Now, of course we weren't actually expected to answer these questions (it is an art competition, NOT an essay writing competition, after all) but I had a good idea what I had wanted to do. Quite obviously, science has changed and influenced much of what we know in our contemporary world. Indeed, one might even say that science is the basis of all the knowledge that has shaped and formed our lives as we know it. Without science, the world would be extremely different from how we know it! Contrary to popular belief, that science and art are incompatible (the general consensus is that science has rules, art doesn't) I believe that the two are in fact extremely interlinked. For a lot of my artwork, for example, I draw my inspiration from my observations and understanding of the natural world. Indeed to sketch the wings of insects and incorporate them into my portraits of magical beings would require at some level a basic understanding of insect and animal morphology - one of the basic knowledge of evolutionary science! Consequently (rejecting the ideology of the Romantics that the two were almost incompatible) I'd say that my artwork has always been very much influenced by the natural sciences.

On that note, I began coming up with a rough idea for my entry in the competition. In creating prominent coupling between the two discourse of art and science I chose the subject of aesthetics (or beauty!) which is a predominant feature in artistic appreciation, and of insects, being the little aspect of the natural sciences that I am most interested in. The medium I chose to work in was collage (the other two mediums offered being painting or sculpture).
Insectoid femininity - The Invertebrate Venus
The Venus emerges, not out of the ocean from a the lips of a half-oyster but the blossoming wings of the beautiful moon moths. She crawls out of it, slowly like the insect from it's cocoon and we can see that the skin on her leg's glisten like the hardened carapaces of the bejeweled scarabidae beetles. Around her, in place of hair is a flowing main of hesperidae butterflies, each reflecting the different brown and auburn hues of the prairie plains, or a particularly aged forest. She is the Mother of beauty, all forms of beauty and in gentle embrace she cradles a cicada against the modest mounds of her breasts as she invites the audiences into her world, to appreciate her beauty, with eyes as captivating and startling as those on the polyphemus moth. 

This art-piece is titled Insectoid Femininity - The Invertebrate Venus and it is basically an amalgamation of Botticelli's the Birth of Venus, with the body parts of various insects. The idea behind this art-piece (and it might change if you asked me in a few days or so... because that's how artists are sometimes) is critique on the constructedness of beauty, specifically in the notion that "nothing is natural anymore". So indeed what I did was cut up (literally!) and re-constructed the Venus (supposedly the representation of ideal feminine beauty) with the "natural" body parts of various insects that captured my fancy. I am especially fond of her butterfly-hair. Last but not least, as a parting note, you may be wondering why I am publishing this here... and if that is not in some way in violation of the contest rules... and the answer is, I'm not submitting it after all. You see, I did not read the requirements clearly and upon completing this piece (in A4 size) learnt that it was supposed to be in A1 size. Oh well... there goes my shot at winning RM2000.

Beauty is everywhere. One only has to acknowledge it.

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