zhuang zi’s thoughts and my thoughts

Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man. Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things.

(translated by Lin Yutang, wikiquote)

Chuang Chou talked about three types of people who understand between existence and inexistence, life and death.

  1. People who don’t understand transformation of the material things. They are obsessed with life and detesting death, which against natural law.
  2. People who know the existence of transformation between materials, they have not perseverance on life or death but willingly accept the circulation of nature; they are unavoidably controlled by the natural law.
  3. People, who has surpassed the circulation and escaped from life and death. They won’t be involved in the procedure of transformation of materials. They, as equal as the nature (whoever decides the natural law), are truly free. They can even help with the transformation.

He believed that in order to be free, we shall reach the stage of “Zuowang”, which means that we need to leave the mundane thoughts and even our body behind, to integrate self with the world.

Some thoughts on Zhuangzi

I have been thinking about the stories about Zhuangzi for a while. He was ancient Chinese philosopher. He had many thoughts that are interesting to me. For example, his thoughts on life and death. In many aspects, people often think that we have to behave well as we are alive, so we won’t be punished after our death in another world. In another word, people would rather than going to heaven instead of hell. Therefore, the options are already set up: heaven or hell, bad or good. However, in Zhuangzi’s opinion, there are not many boundaries in between. To him, life is a circle as four seasons. One always come after another. He mentioned that the soul existed before the body was formed. After the body is born into this world, an alive human will suffer and enjoy many things, thus we cannot say that its good or bad for a human to live in this world because living is not simple. It doesn’t stand for absolute one side. He or she need to find balance in between in many things. As seasons change, a human will go through a circle that his or her soul will be formed before the body, then it will be born with the body. After death, the soul will leave the body but won’t disappear, thus he didn’t feel too sad for his wife’s death but celebrated as her soul got freedom and left all the suffering in this world behind.

Machine and Us

I’ve been thinking about whether we are really making progress to our lives or not. When our ancestors decided to stand up and use two legs to walk and use hands to work, that was a big step forward. When human decided to grow more grains and domesticate animals, they have definitely put more work on them. People constantly bent their backs to work in the farm. This motion gave them big back problem. Once they suffered too much pain from working, they started thinking about how to use less label to get more efficient result. And then, the hand tools and machines were made with purposes.

However, the more convenient life we have now, a little more concern we have. Personally, I start feeling that people are trapped in a vicious circle. In another word, they are spoiled by the accessibilities in daily life. People have invented great machines that are able to help us to sit down wherever we go (cars, auto shopping carts in grocery store, and wheelchairs), and we even have self-bend bed that can help us to gently get up from the bed. All of these machines are meant to relief our stress and bring us convenience from work and other stuff, but what causes all of these troubles? All the machines have made our life so fast, so we have to try hard to catch up, then this action brings us stress, and we have to come up with better ideas to release the stress, then relative machines are made. Once we got our stress relieved temporally, we start working harder to speed up the life again. To me, the machines are getting better and better, but human body are getting worse. We can replace the main part to machine to make it rework again, but so far, we haven’t figure out what to replace the main part of human body to be immortal. Why are we still having great needs of all of these even our life has been so advanced? When will this end? Probably never. It seems like people are getting better on analyzing data and creating advanced things, then when something is wrong with them, the creators have to be more creative. Gradually, the data starts manipulating people. We are getting worried that if the things that we created will be too intelligent to step over us and domain the world. We are too exhausted of making new things, and we can hardly catch up the speed of their growth.

It is like the positive and negative magnetics are pulling from each other, we and our conventions will always have influence on another.

The Fold

The reading indicates one concept to me that we cannot treat two things that are antonyms as one against other. They both share the same contents as when we fold the paper, the pattern goes with pleats, thus we cannot say folding and unfolding this paper are totally two different things. Both of these two actions follow the same pleats as their elastic force, and they develop into two actions as the “vector” is different, that is, the plastic force gives it different way of cooperating with pleats. Just like when painting on paper with different media. Painting with oil or watercolor will eventually give us painted papers anyway, but either method won’t turn it into a ceramic cup or plastic bag.

When we are folding, thinking thoroughly rather than individually. The pleats are the rails of pattern. The patterns are not made of points but following the pleats. I see it more especially after folding paper by myself. All the curves are not curves. They are connections of pleats. The continuation of it gives it a different form. This method also made me to be aware of the power of repetition and patterns.

Weave with Grasshopper

After hand weaving, we moved onto digital method. It was fun making the same pattern in computer through software, but it was also a such headache since Grasshopper is not really easy to learn.

Ryan trying to explain what is flip matrix
using panel to show data details in different component
screen shot of creating weaving on grasshopper
everything started in dots
connecting dots
make sphere
weave effect

Weave with Machine and Grasshopper.

In last class period we tried different weaving methods, which are hand weaving with traditional machine and designing patterns in Grasshopper.

First half: weave with hands

This experience was really fundamental and interesting. Basically we just need to figure out which pedal to press while having shuttle traveling back and forth. Once we manipulate playing with the machine, we also need to pay attention to the last shred if it’s been weaved by the weft, so that we can get an even and clean edge.

In order to see how it’s been done,

After the demo I tried to weave my own pattern.

In the beginning, I thought that weaving was pretty “nurdy” since it involves with math and patterns. Then I was attracted to it. There are numerous ways to create pattern, images and more on the weaving machine.

Reading- The Fundamental Construction

The importance of materiality

It is important that knowing what we are working with before getting start. The limitation of material can be a guide line. Weaving is a great way of explaining how to use and break the limitation of the material, and it is a smart way of joining mathematic with art. Through history, people have invented great ways of weaving so that it can serve us better. From hand crafted to massive production, weaving has kept its own principles, simple and useful. However, the possibilities behind these principles are never the same.

The power of repetition

I think the existence of repetition is really interesting. It amplifies the number, characteristic, function and tons of other parts of things, so that we cannot easily ignore them. It changes the meaning of things and brings our attention to them. Weaving has perfectly used the power of repetition to create another material, functional and aesthetic. Same as how the basic principles works for weaving, repetition times up the possible beauty of weaving art.

The Sympathy of Things Reading Respond

Oftentimes, people think that we have passed our abilities of crafting to machines and digitalize the labor into mechanical code, thus, the process of creation becomes specified and uniformed. Then compare to hand craft methods, this process is more “cold blooded” and rapidly done. However, this reading has stated that while human was making things by hands long time ago, there were methods of movements and strategies are set during the creation process. In other words, hand crafting also involves many mechanical methods. That’s why we cannot separate one from the other.

Same as treating things as an object. The object itself carries specific meaning at certain moment. To me, at this point, anything that’s involved during creation is a carrier of sympathy.

While reading many explanations of pattern designs, I like the quote,

“A pattern is never an image, nor a multiplication of images; it is essential that the type of

multiplication abstracts the images in the pattern or that the images abstract

themselves enough to invent their own form of multiplication.”

This design itself is a mechanical process. The reading makes me rethink my relationship to designs. Whether I’m the one who is making it, or I’m just helping it to grow by itself?

My Interests

I’m interested in grasping emotions and things that are being ignored in our daily life. Noticing any contradictory things in life and finding balance are often involved in my process of creating art works. I’m still trying to figure out the relationship between craft and design, the neutral space between the art work itself and the concept behind it. Oftentimes I doubt whether an art work can be an independent piece or it has to have concept stands behind it.

There are many rapid changes occurred these years and shaped the art making process. I wish to know more aspect of them and using them to make my own art works.

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