Time & Experience 1990 was the first set of works in which I emphasized the importance of the process of creating rather than the art object itself. It was made about ten years ago when I was living in New York. It was at this time that I was searching for and confused about the meaning of life and art. What is it? What is it for? And what is the true value of it? How are we going to get to the ultimate understanding of it?
I used to think that art is an extremely creative discipline. However, in comparison to the field of science, I believe the knowledge and creativity in scientific discovery by scientists reflects more tangible evidence than art. Also, I used to believe that art has a strong spiritual value. Again, though, when compared to another field such as religion, religion has more intangible spiritual value for one's soul and mind without having to necessarily communicate through visual representation, unlike art. All of this confusion happened to coincide with my own personal problems about love. It was a disastrous period.
During this time, I began to spend a lot of time reading all sorts of books that I believed would help me to gain real understanding about the true value of life and art. Most of these books were on religion and eastern philosophy as well as thoughts and inventions of scientists.
The knowledge I gained from thoughts on eastern philosophy helped me to understand the value of life at a present moment in time. The way to develop consciousness is to make the best out of the "now" in every daily activity one does in living. The awareness of one's emotions, feelings, and internal thinking leads to the process enabling one to understand, control, and examine the real cause of each of these consequences. This is the way of living an art (full) life. This is the way to understand nature based on meditation or exercising the consciousness by observing nature, the physical body, emotional feeling, and thinking internally.
The knowledge I received from the approach of pure science was the way in which systematic experiments using tangible materials are based on logic and reason. Science is the process of understanding the external elements through the observation of external, natural phenomena combined with mathematical knowledge. The spiritual nature of the observer was not brought into consideration.
I was very impressed with Albert Einstein's way of thinking, which expressed that we become aware of time because of the experience that comes in the interval between time. Each person's time is different. Time is inconsistent with the condition of each person's mind. For example, when sitting in front of a very hot fire for one hour, we will feel that time passed by slowly. But, if we are with someone we love, one hour will pass by very quickly. All of this depends on the state of mind of each person at that particular moment. Einstein also said that time we spend in daily life is not fixed or finite. We can interfere with time if we move fast enough because time is based on the speed of the traveler as posited in Einstein's theory of relativity. Time is relative. The varying speeds of time passing by, be it slow or fast, is relevant to the rate in which each object moves in space. For example, 365 days on the planet earth is equivalent to one year. But 1 day on Venus is equivalent to approximately 1 year because Venus itself rotates around at the same rate as it rotating around the sun. Hence, time on earth is different from time on Venus. Einstein's theory about time made me re-think and begin investigating the value/ worthiness and universal truth of things within ideas, knowledge, belief systems, social customs as well as my own personal self.
I am using the art-making process as a way to understand my internal nature, just like art therapy. I combine it with the eastern philosophical way of thinking about the value of contemporary life. I express the observations of my emotions, my intelligence, and the feelings inside me in the form of tangible representation. I use different colors to represent intangible emotions and feelings (for example, yellow represents cheerfulness, peacefulness and comfort; red and pink represent love and high spirit; gray represents loneliness, sadness; and black represents sorrow, fear, etc.) and combine it with Einstein's theory about time. (The idea that we acknowledge time through interval experiences and that each person's time is unequal). I started to paint and print one image of my own footprint each day for a period of one year in order to use my life experience every day as an interval of time and then represent it in a tangible form. Starting from January 1st 1990 - December 31, 1990, I put masking tape sequentially numbered from number one on the first piece until number 365 on the 365th piece in the middle of each canvas. I then applied colors to the canvas according to my feelings and emotions each day using my hands instead of brushes. I wiped my hands with the leftover paint on my feet. I then imprinted my footstep onto a piece of paper which also had a corresponding number with masking tape on it. After the paint dried, I peeled the masking tape off of the canvas and the paper to reveal the true nature of the material. From my working experience, I concluded that art should be a bridge between eastern philosophical ideas and scientific ideology in order to understand the intangible forms of one's internal nature and to express this idea in a tangible form through the art-making process. The process, for me, is quite similar to scientific discoveries based on the method of experimentation and the use of logic.
I place all the paintings, like tiles, over the whole floor in the exhibition space. Around the room, I attach all 365 prints of my footprint onto the wall. The audience will be walking or standing on my paintings while looking at the footprints on the walls. This is the process of reversing the conventional concept of perception. Things that are customarily perceived through sight have to be perceived by touch. The footprint symbolizes the foot. It is the physical organ that can sense things through touching-walking, standing on pictures that are usually sensed through sight. One can now perceive the painting by touching rather than seeing. The reason behind this is so that the audience would have to think to achieve a greater awareness rather than just be concerned about the value of an "art object". This is a search for internal spiritual value, reflecting the importance of time and experience in daily life that passes by with every step one consciously makes.