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Sunday, 25 December 2011

THE CREATIVE FORCE OF THE UNIVERSE SPEAKS THROUGH YOU MY DEAR DR. CHONG.

Dr. Chong (3 from front right), in his true element (child-like), holding the soap bubble magic stick, with MGTF staffs and I, enjoying our time


The word enthusiasm means 'in god'. Being enthusiastic means losing oneself in the joy of present moment, in the 'now', in whatever goodness of what one is doing, in short, 'in god'. Very spiritual indeed.

The word also best describes one special person that I have been blessed to know, Dr. Chong Hon Yew. 

Dr. Chong has been like a fatherly figure in my life at the Muzium and Galeri Tuanku Fauziah (MGTF) Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) for the past 6 years. He has been dedicating his vast and deep knowledge, his experience, his brilliance, creativity and his expertise to running so many astronomy workshops and activities at MGTF. We have been to many places, many communities within and outside Penang so many times, I lost count already. We have traveled together to Langkawi, Perak, Terengganu, Melaka, even Sarawak. We had even assisted a primary school in Kuala kangsar to conceptualize, design, install, renovate and upgrade an old school building into a science gallery (called Galeri Sains Sentral). The project took us a year to complete! And Dr. Chong was there by our side.

Every time Dr. Chong ran all the activities, I could see the eyes of all those young people/visitors/ communities brighten up. They were sucked into the enthusiasm. They were enveloped into the experience of being in the 'now'.

His non-stop energy and undivided love for astronomy are so infectious. He has been inspiring us to enjoy and make science (especially through astronomy) become a lively and creative part of us. He has been inspiring so many MGTF visitors and so many communities (that we had visited together) to love the sciences with his jovial character and child-like enthusiasm. MGTF also has been complimenting his science-centered brain with our own brand of engaging, interactive and inclusive art. As Dr. Chong explains the physic of light, we allow our visitors or visited communities to enjoy playing with many different colors of batik through janting or tye and dye.

Now with our own Sustainable Cosmodome (180 degree screening of video inside an enclosed dome, in which there are only 2 in this country), we have even 'gardened' more minds together. 

Dr. Chong has been my complimentary pair, a precious partnership of the arts and sciences. Dr. Chong has helped me and all my fellow 'gardeners' at MGTF to define MGTF USM.

Dr.Chong is also a people-person, complimentary to my training as a so-called fine artist who is normally reclusive. Admittedly, I was used to perceive myself as an 'independent' or isolated creative genius, with a highly personal magic, special, higher or fine or separated from the rest of the society. What an illusion. With MGTF, its visitors and community programs, and of course Dr. Chong, all those toxic sentiments that have inflicted me (or 'veiled' me) have been washed away. Some residue still lingers though. Anyway, I had learnt to get rid of all those 'artist' posturing, putting aside the 'visual artist' in me, and just BE (naturally, in flux).

(Just to note that few community-oriented creative projects that I've come to know about, seemed to highlight the 'artists' rather than the 'experiences' or the 'voices' of the participating members of the community, or the joy and enthusiasm (spirit) within the project. But there are many obscured creative community projects out there that are very inspiring and reflect similar collective enthusiasm. These projects and people behind them have been my source of inspiration.)

When Dr. Chong is in his element, he is like a little kid (who are less opaque and more transparent than most of us adults). His spirit soars together with his audience (mostly kids or young people). Even I felt like a kid around him. Check out the many fb albums of MGTF (related to astronomy activities) if you don't believe me.

Dr. Chong has even inspired me to embrace science and scientific means to enjoy my physical experiences even more. In fact, I had produced a video art dedicated to him, based on a combination of images of stars, galaxies, nebula, etc with the paintings of Syed Ahmad Jamal. 

Ironic it may sound, Dr. Chong (being a typical scientist perhaps) didn't see himself as a spiritual person. I respect his stance when it comes to spirituality. No point of arguing if just to boast ego. But ironically, I always get spiritually 'high' whenever I join his activities or witness him in action. In fact, I always felt as if the creative force of the universe is speaking through him, to humble me with all the dry scientific 'facts' that can turn my ego into 'dust'. Try compare the scale of the earth with just our Milky Way galaxy alone, not to mention thousands of other galaxies. 

Funny though, sometimes I didn't receive similar vibe with few individuals (luckily few) who like to display pious posturings. Some seem to keep on lamenting, judging, focusing on finding faults, passing punitive remarks if not punishing, at times cursing if not abusing others who don't conform to what they assume as their 'moral standard'. I guess encountering such characters reflects my own mental and emotional state. If that is to be one of my paths and 'rezeki', I submit.

Dr. Chong's presence, including his ever-changing entourage of astronomy enthusiasts (mostly his students from the Physic Department in USM), has been a blessing for my life at MGTF USM. Fatini is one of his young apprentice so-to-speak. 

I wish I could spend more time with him to poke his genius mind about quantum physics and other scientific matters. My administrative duties have been denying me from doing that, but it would probably be a different story after I had managed to free myself from such duties next year.

Looking at the stars, galaxies, etc at night has for many times shrunk my ego into dust. I lost my opaque self, became a 'witness' to greatness, dissolved into everything. It has also helped to allow all the creative energy to rush into and through me.  

Thank you Dr. Chong.

The following fb album displays fragments of what Dr. Chong has been doing with MGTF and so many kids, young people and communities for the past 6 years.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.194066117303874.44005.100001014620306&type=1

For the Galeri Sains Sentral school and community project, click
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.150939281616558.27779.100001014620306&type=1

 

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