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My Artistic Journey When I was three years old, as my mother told me many years Similarly, by using black and white photographic solutions in well- later, one of my favourite pastimes was to take apart toys that move, defined concentrations and combinations, I was able to control the color such as motorized cars, apparently because I was curious to find out images on black and white photographic paper using the “light scattering” how they work inside. Such stories have occasionally been used to principle, rather than using any dyes or pigments. This painting process is shed light on why I was destined to be a scientist. If this were true, I now known as “chromoskedasic”, a term coined by Dr. Bryant Rossiter, must also have been destined to become a painter, because at about a former senior scientist at Kodak. For those interested in the scientific the same age, I was also accused of drawing over some of the Chinese basis of this process, please read our articles in the November, 1991 paintings hanging in our home. Nobody could figure out the rationale issue of Scientific American, and reprinted in this book. of such actions, for which I was repeatedly punished. In retrospect, it could have been because I was attempting to improve upon those Besides being a novel way for creating color images on paper, the paintings. chromoskedasic painting process also possesses other unique and potentially powerful characteristics. For instance, since the images are Drawing is clearly a time-honored and universal form of human produced by a series of fast chemical reactions (less than a second), the communication and expression. Yet only very few people take this resolutions and variations on these images far exceed those of medium seriously enough to become painters. There are obviously conventional media such as oil or water-color. In effect, since many paths to this profession or passion. For me, it is an almost chromoskedasic painting involves the controlled reorganization of single irrepressible drive to express visually my perception of the outside silver atoms on photographic paper, it is analogous to having a palette of world, as well as my inner feelings and emotions. At its most intensive an almost infinite range. In addition, the sense of movement and moments, I often feel out of control, as if a higher being is using my spontaneity in these paintings is also greatly enhanced because of the mind and body as a messenger to express certain visions. Thus, with rapid rates by which the chemical reactions produce the images. Although all my distractions, I still feel edgy when I am more than a few weeks I have been experimenting with this technique for almost twenty years, it away from painting. Painting is indeed a basic desire of my life. is clear that I have only begun to scratch the surface of the almost limitless array of possibilities inherent in this medium. Art critics and the public often begin their discussions of my paintings by focusing on the methods I use. This, I suppose, is perhaps The second novel technique that I have developed for my painting because my artistic journey has been highlighted by the serendipitous occurs in the late eighties. As I began to experiment with using discovery of two novel painting techniques. conventional media such as acrylic, oil, enamel and water-color to complement the effects of the chromoskedasic process, I found that, in The first, which I discovered in 1980, is the production of fully general, enamel paint works very well with the chromoskedasic method colored images on black and white photographic paper, using only and my artistic style. At first I used enamel paint mostly as a spray. chemical solutions normally associated with black and white Subsequently I started to mix these paints with some of the organic photography, and in the absence of any dyes or pigments. In order solvents in my laboratory and applying them to the photographic paper. to understand how this process works, it is useful to know that there As the solvents evaporate, the enamel forms a thin film on the paper. To are two major mechanisms by which color images in the universe are my surprise and delight, when hydrocarbon (substances that contain only perceived by our eyes. The first is produced by the dyes or pigments hydrogen, carbon and sometimes oxygen, like acetone or gasoline) in an object which absorb all wavelengths of light except for the solvents of different evaporation rates (roughly related to their boiling color that is reflected. The second mechanism involves no dyes or points) are mixed with different enamel paints, dramatically varied visual pigments at all; rather it is because of a physical phenomenon known effects, ranging from texture to tone to the formation of complex colors as “light scattering”, as examplified by the sky being blue because are obtained. For instance, the visual effects of the same enamel paint the color of sunlight that reaches our eyes after it has been scattered on photographic paper can be quite different depending on whether by dust and other nanometer-sized particles in the atmosphere is one uses hexane or decane as a solvent. Such variations are illustrated in predominantly blue. many of my recent paintings. Once again, I am in the early phase of exploring the possibilities of this approach. Dominic Man-Kit Lam It is generally recognized that the use of interesting, even totally Woods Mitchell for always believing in my artistic endeavors, to novel, methods and media, do not necessarily result in good art. Hence Professor Torsten Wiesel for his mentorship, to Dr. Alice McPherson the aforesaid techniques should be viewed as much as an illustration and Mr. George Mitchell for supporting the scientific endeavors. To of my artistic endeavor and experimentation as for their inherent artistic President and Mrs. George Bush, who honored me with an merits. First, the discovery, experimentation and development of these appointment in the President’s Committee for the Arts and Humanities, methods demonstrate the interwoven and inseparable nature of my I offer my deepest admiration and gratitude. Through this Committee, artistic and scientific careers. Second, it extends to art my firm belief of I have met many great artists, among them Mr. Jasper Johns and Mr. a broadly accepted principle in science, namely that a fundamental Richard Diebenkorn, whose kindness, encouragement and personal breakthrough or application in science is often preceded by the examples have been a positive force in my artistic journey, particularly development of an important new technique. The explosion in our during times of uncertainty and frustration. understanding of the human genome is a case in point: without the discovery of the technique of gene splicing, there would not have been Dominic Man-Kit Lam July 1, 1997 Hong Kong the advances of genetic engineering as we know it, or the commercial production of such important pharmaceuticals as human insulin and ****************************************************** growth hormone. In the same light, it is also my strong conviction that novel techniques such as the chromoskedasic process might bring new Post-script: visual imageries not possible, or not as easily attainable, by other media. It is in this spirit that I encourage my colleagues and friends to I wrote this article eight years ago for my art exhibition experiment with and expand upon the artistic and scientific horizons celebrating the return of Hong Kong to China. Since then, I have of such processes. relocated to Hong Kong permanently and found it to be the only city in which I wish to reside. I am also blessed because my family has In furtherance of the above theories, as a person who grew up been well, and I am living more happily than ever. in Hong Kong, left it to pursue my studies and career and have now I founded World Eye Organization in 1999 and have been returned to Hong Kong, I feel fortunate and enthusiastic about the blessed by the generous support of many friends, philanthropists and imminent return of Hong Kong to China. A historic event, just like a corporations. fundamental scientific or artistic discovery, is often viewed with concern and uncertainty. The splitting of the atom to generate energy, This charitable event is the brainchild of Mr. Wilfred Ho, and the more recent possibility of cloning of a human are prime Chairman of Shanghai Hang Bond Property Development Co Ltd, examples. Likewise, many people in Hong Kong are concerned about who is a distinguished architect, successful businessman and generous the future of their hometown. With wise leadership, optimism and philanthropist, who had the vision to celebrate Plaza 66 Anniversary good luck, I am certain that Hong Kong will continue to prosper and 2005 with a memorable art show. become an even greater city in the twenty-first century. My 'Vision of the Mind' series of paintings explores the My artistic journey has been made much more joyous by the relationship between the eye, which is the window of our soul, our many friends and relatives who have been my valued companions inner-selves and the universe. This year also marks the 25th year of along the way. To them I dedicate this “travelog”. The continual the discovery of chromoskedasic painting. I am therefore most thrilled support and encouragement of my family, in particular my mother, to show the fruits of these endeavours at Plaza 66 in Shanghai. Li, Yee Yee, Fong, Raymond, Doris, Nancy, Cecilia and Louis, is most appreciated. My many teachers and friends in art, especially Professors Finally, I am delighted with this opportunity to amalgamate Zhou Shixin, Zhao Shaoang, Yang Shanshen, Guan Shanyue, Zhao my three passions in life: art, science and charity, especially when all Wuji, Shi Hu, Yaming, Fan Zheng, Cai Cufu, Zhang Daqian, Li Keran, of them involve VISION. Wu Zuoren, Guan Liang, Huang Zhou and Zhu Jizhan have provided major guiding lights along the way. I am also grateful to Mrs. Cynthia Dominic Man-Kit Lam June 22, 2005 Hong Kong
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