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Tuesday, 12 June 2012



The following section will be heavily based on my lazy literature reviews and casual readings, encounters with several individuals or gurus (actually, everything can be my gurus), testing of theories and assumptions through creative projects (mostly using intuition more than scientific research methods) and for most part, personal life experiences when the universe decided to answer my hypotheses or questions through many unexpected ways. 

So here we go.

2.1   Revisiting

In various artistic traditions, nature and the universe have been explicated through patterns and presented in mathematical equations. Many forms of Eastern tradition display formal methods of repeating motifs in various configurations (patterns/orders) as a mean to enter a mystical state (beyond quantum perhaps).

If we look at many traditional forms of pictorial recitations, we may find the use of an image of a tree as a symbol. In a ‘wayang’ or shadow puppet tradition in Malaysia and Indonesia for example, an image of a tree called ‘pohon hayat/beringin’ (tree of life) or ‘gunungan’ (mountain) is used to open a shadow puppet performance. In Malaysia, the image is read by several scholars as a pictorial text or a quantum map that signifies a traditional cosmological reading of life. It symbolizes cross-dimensional universe (or multiverses) in which myriads of beings dwell across 3 domains or dimensions:

Physical or for some, local (lower consciousness and energy)
Mental-emotional or for some, non-local (higher consciousness and energy) 
Spiritual or for some ‘eternal’ (beyond consciousness and energy - awakened/enlightened)

The central core of the ‘pohon hayat’ represents vertical ascension. Eastern mysticism reads such ascension as humans reaching higher level consciousness (high energy dimension). The radiant branching represents descend. Here, humans dwell in their daily lower level consciousness (low energy dimension interfacing through our five senses). 

Gunungan, Wayang Kulit Jawa
Pohon Hayat/Beringin, Wayang Kulit Kelantan.
Superimposition of electro-magnetic field with shadow puppet, excerpt taken from "The Borrower of Light", video and installation (2003), Hasnul J Saidon.
Reinterpretation of 'Pohon Hayat/Beringin' for contemporary interior by Mohd Noor Badar, Kelantan.

Adaptation of 'Pohon Hayat/Beringin' in "Antara Semangat" (2000), a multi-media performance, at the National Art Gallery of Malaysia. Stage and Video Design by Hasnul J Saidon

Tebar layar of a Malay House, Penang.

Quantum maps based on 'Pohon Hayat', Hasnul J Saidon

Quantum map based on 'Pohon Hayat', Hasnul J Saidon.
Quantum map based on 'Pohon Hayat', Hasnul J Saidon

Quantum maps based on Pohon Hayat/Beringin, Hasnul J Saidon.
Beijing, China. Photo by Hasnul J Saidon.

Ascension moves upward (getting high!). It unites to reach or return to ‘Oneness’. Descend moves downward (getting real!). It multiplies to reach diversity. As implied by the embrace of Shiva and Shakti, we have to embrace diversity (or duality) in order to reach unity or Oneness.

Quantum maps and Eastern cosmology, Hasnul J Saidon
Al-Bukhary International University

Quantum visualization with Eastern cosmology, excerpts taken from "The Borrower of Light", video and installation (2003), Hasnul J Saidon
In Eastern metaphysics, such a journey across dimensions or multiverses necessitates paradoxical directions – the dual nature of ascend and descend, isra’ and mi’raj, light and shadow, artificial and real, unity and multiplicity, oneness and diversity, ying and yang, as-sham and al-hillal. Unity illuminates inward, while multiplicity illuminates the outward. The source of illumination is the light (energy) of pure compassion and unconditional love.

Al-Bukhary International University

In this form of Eastern cosmological reading, the essence of a sustainable living is a complimentary convergence, balance (or in the case of this presentation), dance between opposites, as in the pairing or partnering of ascend and descend as well as the previously-mentioned binary opposites. It represents inter-connectedness between the micro and macro, the individual self with societal others, internal and external, spiritual and physical.

Dance of the opposites, Hasnul J Saidon.
Al-Bukhari International University

Design and creative work within such traditional cosmological reading have always been taken as a part of creating a sustainable cultural ecosystem. This ecosystem induces inter-connectedness, inter-dependency and a balanced symbiosis of opposites across all the three dimensions. Through pure compassion and unconditional love, the ecosystem features complimentary (not antagonistic) cross-existence between the arts and the sciences, left brain and right brain, male and female, apollonian and dynosian and all the binary opposites that we can come up with. 

Asian artistic legacies can be traced in its rich cross-cultural heritage. Pictorial recitations or performed paintings in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Japan, Iran and India reflect the legacies of such ecosystem. 

With his 'power point' and portable storing devices, not to mention the 360 sound. Wayang beber in Indonesia.
Chinese scroll painting and Wayang Beber in Indonesia
Samples of multiple viewpoints and pictorial recitations in Chinese scroll painting.

Temple in Kyoto, Japan. Photo by Hasnul J Saidon.
Temple in Kyoto, Japan. Photo by Hasnul J Saidon.
Pagoda in Euno, Tokyo, Japan.
Beijing, China.
Temple in Kyoto, Japan. Photo by Hasnul J Saidon.
Beijing, China. Photo by Hasnul J Saidon.
Beijing, China. Photo by Hasnul J Saidon.
Forbidden City, Beijing, China.
Zen Garden in Kyoto, Japan. Photo by Hasnul J Saidon.
Tea pot in Kyoto, Japan. Photo by Hasnul J Saidon.
Zen Garden in Kyoto, Japan. Photo by Hasnul J Saidon.
Can such sustainable cultural ecosystem be retained and conserved or rejuvenated in today’s post-colonial, post-industrial, post-modern matrix of Asian contemporary societies? Can it be reconciled with new media technology and brain studies that now dominate our living experience today? 

Parade of Kimono in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Hasnul J Saidon.
Temple in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Hasnul J Saidon.
The elegy of George Town. Photo by Hasnul J Saidon.

Can the answer be yes?

"Borrower of Light", video and installation (2003), Hasnul J Saidon.