The Laughing Buddha, the hamster wheel and a jam sandwich.
All that people see of us, now and beyond our lifetimes, is what we pass on to others. This month I take a view of what both art and technology ask individuals to pass on and give up…
The Laughing Buddha
I was about ten, and arriving home from school one day, I realised a big china ornament that I had been used to seeing daily had disappeared.
‘What happened to our Laughing Buddha?’ I said to my mother.
He used to sit in the famous Buddha pose with a dimpled chuckling expression on his face. He was two feet high with painted squirls in red, black, green and gold on white, depicting the Buddha’s face and fingernails and marking out the features and clothes of chubby children climbing all over him.
‘Oh that,’ she said. Then she told me the story of how she had admired it at somebody’s house. Apparently they too had admired it at a friend’s house. She could have it as long as she promised to pass it to the next admirer. So the next admirer had taken it away with them from our house in just the same way. I wonder where it is now.
I like the idea of admired objects leading their own nomadic existences. And what an Open Studios gambit: ‘Welcome to my studio. There is an object here which an admirer can take away free, as long as they promise to pass it on to the next person who admires it.’ It would be a chain letter of an object with all of the promise but none of the threats. In this day and age, when even something as small and precious as a diamond or as bouncy as a dog can have a micro identity tag, you could attach a microchip to it and watch its progress round the world!
The hamster wheel
As artists, whatever work we do, we pass things on about ourselves – whether it be our ideas, ideals, visions, opinions, style, taste, stories, skills and more. Making our mark on the world is just something we have to do.
Perhaps social networking has taken off for the same reason. I think of it as an art form because it demands creativity and constant practise. But it also gives an audience 24/7 access to who and what you are. It’s a performance art where you create and recreate yourself and what you have to give on a regular, if not daily, basis. Some people gauge their networking success by the number of people they pull in their wake. You are on a quest to gather more and more admirers who will hopefully share your links with others.
As with any hamster wheel it needs constancy and stamina. And as with any artist’s tool, you have a choice whether to pick it up and try it or not.
And a jam sandwich
If blogging is a sandwich and tweeting is toast – then what sort of filler or spread are you/would you be? As crunchy as peanut butter? A full fruit jam? Tart or sugary? For gourmet consumption like quince preserve? Or are you marmite – adored by some and hated by others? Do you contain salt or preservatives? Do you last or once opened or do you have to be consumed within three days?
HVA now tweet and blog. Click the Blog and Twitter buttons on the Homepage to see the latest. If you have your own blogs, tweets or other social media you would like other members to link to – let us know. And have you by any chance seen a china Laughing Buddha in your travels? (Last seen in Uganda.)