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(22 March 2014, Manila)—Yesterday, I had a booth at The Mind Museum’s Media Day, where the museum celebrated their second birthday. In the second photo, you can see Maribel Garcia, curator of the museum, and Manny Blas, managing director of Bonifacio Foundation, Inc., speaking about their activities for the year, as well as talk about the museum’s accomplishments in the past two years, including winning the 2014 Thea Award in the Museum Exhibits category by the Themed Entertainment Association. Solar News presenter Mitzi Borromeo hosted the show. (Fun fact: She and I used to go to the same boxing class and just formally met yesterday.)

In the middle of other booths, where the museum’s Mind Movers (resident scientists and all-around awesome people) presented their own projects, I gave people a preview of the show that will open next month (NEXT MONTH! Ayayay.) I wore my Apocalypse suit, now upgraded with a Commander’s patch, and remixed some Climate Change Couture. When taking a break, I helped myself to some salted butter ice cream by Sebastian’s, and a tiramisu cup made to look like a plant by Kyle Imao of Kyle’s Lab.

The show is getting really close and I am freaking out. Only because I care.

Here are some sneak peeks into the things I am working on for this residency.

I am reaching that point when my projects are deemed too crazy by people that I have to be the one to model it. The first photo is by the lovely Cheryl Song of the Singapore-ETH Future Cities Laboratory, who has patiently put up with me.

1 - Climate Change Couture - Catherine Young

2 - Climate Change Couture - Catherine Young 3 - Climate Change Couture - Catherine Young 4 - Earth vs Humans - Catherine Young

 

Follow the project site at http://www.apocalypse.cc.

Durian mooncake. I kid you not. This was a first for me, courtesy of the good people of the Future Cities Lab. It was actually quite good, even though I think durian deserves to be in a whole other food group by itself.

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Last night I was in Chinatown and right on cue, a small lantern parade began right outside the Buddhist temple, led by traditional lion and dragon dances.

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This was the second lion/dragon dance for me this year. (The first was the Lotus Lantern Festival in Seoul back in June.) I don’t think I’ll ever tire of these things. Happy Miid-Autumn Festival, one and all!

I finally had some time to gather together the images from the workshop I did several weeks back. It’s nice to see them properly categorized and truly see the different perceptions of one cloud. Here is an example:

original cloud

original cloud

I saw a dragon!

I saw a dragon!

Here are the other things these art students saw in this cloud:
DSC02069 DSC02070 DSC02073 DSC02108 DSC02113 DSC02130

Head over to the Rorsketch website to see more of them, or follow the project’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. This project just won’t die. Woo!

At the Teddy Bear Museum in N Seoul Tower, one can discover the history of Korea in the most adorable and saccharine way possible. Hundreds of teddy bears, with most being mechanical, are dressed and arranged to form scenes from Korea’s old and modern history. Bears in royal court! Bears at war! Bears playing polo! Bears doing breakdance! Bears going on a date! Bears getting married! Bears! Bears! Bears!

Some of my favorite scenes involve the arts and the sciences. Here’s one during with scientists during the reign of King Sejong.

scientists during King Sejong's reign

scientists during King Sejong’s reign

Here’s a scene that made me smile. Look on the lower right:

Someone's not doing what he's supposed to. Can you guess who?

Someone’s not doing what he’s supposed to. Can you guess who?

I love this little errant artist bear that could.

This bear made me laugh.

This bear made me laugh.

I also love this scene where the first light bulb was installed in Gyeongbukgung, which I visited last month:

The first electric light in Korea!

The first electric light in Korea!

Sweet, amusing, and way more entertaining than your usual history museum.

(Seoul)—Last Saturday, a group of high school students from the docent program of the National Museum of Contemporary Art of Korea made their way over to the Changdong Art Studio for a talk and workshop with me and fellow artist-in-residence, Karolina Bregula.

Ms. Sung-hee Cho of the NMCA Korea's Department of Education & Residency Program

Ms. Sung-hee Cho of the NMCA Korea’s Department of Education & Residency Program

After I made the students go on a scavenger hunt in my studio, we had homemade kimbap and tteokbokki for lunch. Then, I facilitated short workshops on drawing what they see in clouds, assigning colors to memories, and a blind smell test to dig through their memories.

There are few days when I think having a group of teenagers go through my room is a good idea. This was one of them. Such bright young ladies!

There are few days when I think having a group of teenagers go through my room is a good idea. This was one of them. Such bright young ladies!

Drawing cloud interpretations

Drawing cloud interpretations

A wall of clouds!

A wall of clouds!

Connecting color to memory

Connecting color and memory

A smell test

A smell test

For the color workshop, I thought the work of this student who matched color with pop culture was spot on:

Colors as pop culture references

Colors as pop culture references

I also loved this color palette of memories by another student:

Color and memories of places

Color and memories of places

Oh, and some used The Hug Vest as well.

The Hug Vest lives!

The Hug Vest lives!

Post-workshop cleanup wearing an apron. Ms. Cho and her assistant spent an entire day making tteokbokki for all of us. And it was great!

Post-workshop cleanup wearing an apron. Ms. Cho and her assistant spent hours making tteokbokki for all of us. And it was great!

All in all, a lovely and inspiring day with such intelligent women, who will soon be off to university.

With thanks to Ms. Sung-hee Cho of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea, and the staff of the National Art Studio of Korea, Changdong. Also huge thanks to Ashlee Seo Hyung Lee, who translated for me during the day.  

In a field trip to the National Museum of Contemporary Art of Korea, I came across the piece Wol In Cheon Ji (2012) by Korean artist Choon Sup Lim in his solo exhibit, Luna, and Her Thousand Reflections.

On one side stands an enormous wooden structure that resembles a loom. The other side consists of four columns with thread.

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Wol In Cheon Ji (2012) by Choong Sup Lim

Wol In Cheon Ji (2012) by Choong Sup Lim

 

In the middle lies a lovely installation of a tiny pavilion that is hovering over a changing projection of the moon’s surface.

Wol In Cheon Ji (2012) by Choong Sup Lim

Wol In Cheon Ji (2012) by Choong Sup Lim

Wol In Cheon Ji (2012) by Choong Sup Lim

Wol In Cheon Ji (2012) by Choong Sup Lim

There was something incredibly light and peaceful about this piece, which took up an entire room. So lovely! The exhibit runs until February 24, 2013.

 

 

 

(Seoul)—In Gwanghwamun Square today, I came across a snow bear in front of the statue of King Sejong, under whose reign science and technology flourished in Korea. In his rule, Hangul was also introduced to the country.

A snow bear in front of Sejong the Great

A snow bear in front of Sejong the Great

Up close, the bear is decorated with flowers for ears, cookies for eyes, a glove for his neck and a traffic cone for a hat.

Yes, the hat is a traffic cone

Yes, the hat is a traffic cone

Flowers for its nose and ears, cookies for its eyes, and a glove for its neck

Flowers for its nose and ears, cookies for its eyes, and a glove for its neck

Behind King Sejong is Gwanghwamun, one of the gates that leads to Gyeongbokgung, the main palace of the Jeoson dynasty. The mountain behind it is Bukhansan.

Gwanghwamun by night

Gwanghwamun by night

It’s such a pretty sight in the evening, isn’t it?

My dreams of the sleeping kind are often about flying, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that I’m considering aviation. However, as someone who nearly fell out of a building at 8-years-old, I am afraid of heights. But childhood trauma be damned! As a tiny yet tangible step to being an actual explorer, I went on an ultralight for a ride overlooking the Philippine city of Angeles (about 1.5 hours from Manila) two Sundays ago.

Rorsketch: The Flying Edition

The desire to fly, or be up in the sky without the stressful ordeal of commercial flights, to which I am no stranger, also has something to do with my cloud project. For years now, I’ve looked up at the clouds. It would be awesome if I can actually be at the same height as them!

Arayat is a mountain with its own share of myths that feature gods who battle other gods and/or giants in nearby mountains or disguise themselves as humans.  It’s pretty. I want to climb it. But that will be another story for another day.

On the way, the clouds were already teasing me:

Arayat. With clouds! Thanks, Stephanie, for stopping the car.

Arayat. With clouds that look like the food chain. Thanks, Stephanie, for stopping the car.

It’s difficult not to imagine the Wright brothers, who worked on planes and gliders of a similar size. The smallness of it! It’s like a bike with wings. But here goes nothing:

So this is an ultralight. From afar, it's like a dragonfly.

So this is an ultralight. From afar, it’s like a dragonfly.

Fist in the air! I'm afraid of heights, but it was not the time to think about that. Photo by Steph Tan.

Fist in the air! I’m afraid of heights, but it was not the time to think about that. Photo by Steph Tan.

Up, up, and awaayyy!

Up, up, and awaayyy!

A bicycle in the sky

Flying via small planes has often been compared to being on a roller coaster with invisible tracks. Unlike commercial flights, which can give you the similar, and sometimes even better views, there is no barrier between you and the atmosphere. You control the vessel (well, Captain Max who was sitting on my right did, but he let me work the controls for a bit) and it is like riding a bike in the air. It’s quite exhilarating. And the skies told their stories:

The clouds are like the net that's catching the moon! Do you see it?

The clouds are like the net that’s catching the moon! Do you see it?

What I like about flying in relation to this project is that it makes me a part of the canvas now.

Yes, I'm in there! Photo by Steph Tan.

Yes, I’m in there! Photo by Steph Tan.

The change of height and vessel also brought about one crucial, if not obvious, thing: I can see the ground below. And so grass and fields and roads turned into playgrounds of visual perception as well. Living in big polluted cities all my life, it is always startling to see huge patches of green. While we were rocked by scary gusts of wind, it was air that tasted of rain and sunlight and coconuts.

I see a tangram. Sort of. You?

I see a tangram. Sort of. You?

Broccoli!

Broccoli!

That day, my friends and I witnessed another plane doing aerobatic sequences in the sky using a bright yellow biplane. My jaw dropped, and I stared for several minutes. Then I started squealing. I can’t wait to do that eventually.

It's a bright yellow biplane and it's absolutely gorgeous.  And I think it was doing the sky equivalent of cartwheels.

It’s a bright yellow biplane and it’s absolutely gorgeous. And I think it was doing the sky equivalent of cartwheels.

A hangout in the hangar (Yes, puns are not funny)

When the plane landed, I marched up and interrogated the pilot, Captain Mike, who humored us and described how the plane was made. Back in the hangar, he pointed out a pair of wings being made. Each part has its own paperwork so that it can be traced should anything go wrong.

The skeleton of a wing.

The skeleton of a wing.

Even the hat and glasses are very steampunk. Look!

I want that hat.

I want that hat.

Planes in the hangar. Valet parking provided.

Planes in the hangar. Valet parking provided.

On the way back, we had fresh coconut juice from the roadside. The sunset painted the clouds a pale orange, and I caught two that looked like dolphins. The day was almost too cinematic.

I see kissing dolphins!

I see kissing dolphins!

I grew up loving Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, and was thrilled to learn that the author himself was actually a pilot. I’ve devoured his other writings, especially Wind, Sand, and Stars, Night Flight and Flight to Arras. I think traveling in general allows for creativity, but traveling alone allows you to get lost in yourself and discover these pure grains of truth that shape you without you consciously knowing it. I think this has been the reason why I keep moving and seeking new and strange experiences, and once you start, it’s difficult to stop.

Steph and Kristel Tan, and me. Thank you, ladies!

Steph and Kristel Tan, and me. Thank you, ladies!

Thanks to Stephanie (@StephLTan) and Kristel Tan, The Angeles Flying Club, Captain Max, and Captain Mike!

Rorsketches to be posted soon. But check out previous ones here

Barcelona Kawaii (December 2009), Digital illustration

Blessed are hard drives, for they shall reveal files gathering digital dust.

I did this digital illustration years back, for an exhibit called “Des de Fora” (From the Outside) in Sants, Barcelona. It was a time when I was getting over the hump of learning Adobe Illustrator. I completely forgot about this drawing! But I suppose this influenced my doodling habit later on.

The theme reflects on being a foreigner in Barcelona; I wanted to portray the increasingly multicultural nature of one of my favorite cities in the world. Futbol, Feast of St. George, Bicing, Gaudi architecture, etc. are all things I will remember Barcelona for.

It was also the year that it snowed in Catalunya for the first time in years:

Snow in Barcelona (March 2010)

It was also a time when I saw double AND triple rainbows on the day my friends and I were eating calçots and writing poetry:

Double rainbows over Barcelona (April 2010)

Look closely: Triple rainbows!

I t was also the time I was first part of the Poetry Brothel in Barcelona, which was probably one of the most influential times of my life from a creative standpoint and made me look at science from the point of view of poetry:

getting made up by Violet (Photo by Joe Wray)

I accidentally unearthed that cheongsam / qi pao the other day and was quite amazed by the wear and tear it had to withstand amidst all those poetry readings and performances.

I’ve been in Manila for five months now, and it’s been a time of looking at the city I grew up in from the outside. Despite living in multiple countries for so long, cities never fail to surprise me.

Perhaps, like cities, poetry whores, and the weather, humans, too, can pause and look at ourselves from the outside.

It’s just one of those days.

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