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My Artistic Journey - PDF


									  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
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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