Bangkok Post

SPIRITUAL JOURNEYS ON BANGKOK’S BTS

- STORY CATHERINE FAULDER

When and how did your passion for art begin?

I realised I was passionate about art at the age of 15; I felt it was the only thing that I could do. When I was a kid, I didn’t do well in school; the only subject I was really good at was drawing.

What are the difference­s in art between Bangkok and Chiang Mai?

The artwork in Chiang Mai is more experiment­al and artists have more freedom. The reason for this is partly due to environmen­t — they are surrounded by nature, though the scene does lack art supporters. In other words, there really isn’t any market for art there, but there are also advantages and disadvanta­ges in that at the same time.

Tell us more about your current project, Universal Connection­s.

I was inspired by Benoit Mandelbrot, a scientist who discovered fractal geometry in 1980. According to his research, everything in nature is systematic­ally constructe­d of a recurring shape; the body, blood vessels, DNA, rivers, mountains, trees, clouds, waves — all these things are made up of fractals. This is the concept of self-repetition: everything is constructe­d in similar ways — self-similarity — and the repetition is infinite.

Our minds, souls, and feelings share similariti­es with the concept of fractal geometry, but in these cases, I would refer to it as “spiritual fractals”, which is the inspiratio­n for the project, “Universal Connection­s”. During meditation, I noticed a link between the mind and body - how the intangible inside (abstract) connects with the tangible outside (physical). And how feelings and thoughts become behaviours and how that eventually becomes the human behavior that we see in society today. I want to demonstrat­e this understand­ing through animation and mixed multimedia, by wrapping the inside and outside of the BTS with my spiritual fractal design.

The circular shape in my design represents fractals. When we zoom in on the shape, we are likely to focus on the outside area and not the inside. It’s the same when we look at people: we notice their outside, but don’t see their minds. But it’s what’s inside that raises the questions; where do emotions, feelings, love, mercy all come from? And what is the connection that bridges the gap between our body and our mind?

Everything in the world has two opposite sides — light and dark — just like in the darkness of space, there are bright stars, and within that concept there’s both positive and negative energy and I represent these opposites as yin and yang. These conditions — night and day, happiness and suffering, good and bad — how do we apply them in life? When you have been sitting for a long time, your legs feel stiff, it hurts, you don’t like it, so you want to avoid it. By contrast, when you’re happy, it feels good and you want to prolong it. And when you’re driven by your feelings again and again, it becomes a behavioura­l habit, which controls how you live. So, then how can you truly be in control of your life?

To change your behavioura­l habits, you have to practise meditation; neutralise your mind, and in that state of calm- ness, you will be able to feel the coming and going of feelings in the body and mind as they are. When you practise being in this state, you are more easily able to detach yourself from noise (that is the human condition), to see things as they really are. Then we can finally realise that there is no true self and that everything around us is always going through change. For me, the forming of character and attitude occurs from the repetition of behavior, in the same way that the fractal becomes something tangible through the repetition of itself.

The moment of detachment from the self is the connection between the mind and body, from which emerge purer feelings such as love and mercy towards others without any expectatio­n of something in return. This detachment dissolves the separation between yourself and others and in this oneness, you can be feel more empathetic towards others and in turn, make a more positive contributi­on to society. Every problem in society can be solved if we behave towards others the way we would behave towards ourselves.

When did you first come across fractal geometry. What do you think is so special about this type of art?

I first learned about fractal geometry in a documentar­y on PBS Nova called “Fractals – Hunting the Hidden Dimension”. You can watch it on Youtube.

Why do you think Bangkokian­s need something like this right now?

It’s not just the people of Bangkok who need it, but everyone should come to understand the universal reality of nature: that we are all the same, and we are one.

How do you envision this project will help Bangkok, if it hits its funding target?

I hope that the message I’m trying to convey will help them to understand and empathise with one another better.

“Universal Connection­s” will hit the BTS in July, but only if the funding goal of two million baht is reached. Supporters interested in contributi­ng towards this campaign can do so via asiola.co.th.

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