Creative Collision Blog

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Behind Creative Collision

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Designs architecture. Writer and blogger. Also a freelance architecture and fashion photographer.




I was having a lengthy creative discussion with a friend the other day at a party (I seem to always attract such discussion...) and we were talking about art in two categories: the ridiculous and the serious. Without trying to draw a distinct dichotomy between the two, I do believe that art tends to be one over the other. For instance, Rachel Whiteread's sculptures brings a sombre pondering that far outweighs the inherent playfulness of her three-dimensional forms (refer to Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial, House).

On the other front, a polarisation to ridiculousness exists. Controversial, light-hearted yet provocative... there is many a term to describe such art. I want to introduce a Ellen Kooi who seems to grow a Narnian frenzy out of her images. I wonder if her intention was barely a playful one, or if the images are meant to be interpreted in more the 'serious' side. In the eye of the beholder, I suppose.


It's been a good few weeks since I went down to Christchurch to survey and document the earthquake damage. Now, to the devastation of New Zealanders, a more severe earthquake has hit the Garden City. It's icon, the great Cathedral now exists in ruins. The stability of the citizens, already shaken by the quakes of the past year, have been traumatised by the earth once more.

In the week-long trip that I conducted mid-January, the city was in recovery mode, barely into reconstruction. What a set back this is. Not only this, the tragedy comes with the loss of at least 65 lives with the death toll rising. In the September 4th quake, there were no fatalities. Today, the 22nd February has brought us a scene of primal violence, where our built civilisation crushes the lives and souls of our fellow countrymen.

Architecture for Humanity is helping the only way it can see in this acute stage - raising funds for Christchurch. Please donate. The best way to keep up with the rallying on the earthquake is Twitter - already people are offering temporary homes inside the city and out with the hastag #EQNZaccom.

I will be retweeting interesting and urban related tweets on Twitter at @BobbShen.


The urban environment of the 21st century is not only boxed in by walls and cut up by water features. Look at what the Auckland city has turned into without freely available Wifi. People sit outside of the public library after hours, using their laptops in jandals on the grimy floor. They literally sit on a floor drain with tiny insects swirling around them.

They sit in this badly designed corridor instead of using free Wifi in the park next door, the seating in the Arts Precinct or along the pedestrian tap root of Queen Street. The technological culture in New Zealand is repressed by the lack of free Wifi around the city.


The Tate Gallery in Britain is having an exhibition dedicated to watercolour, the traditional and the more contemporary. Although I really want to go, I am stuck on an island called New Zealand. What an extraordinary insight it must be to visit this beautiful medium, full-fledgedly curated. The image is a photo of Karla Black's 'Opportunity for Girls'.


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Pixar is an enormous creative being which has exponentially grown to it's current domination in the animation industry. It was interesting to see the environment which all of this creative energy takes place.

Any creative being thrives in their personal studio environment. Sometimes, without even having a formal space for such activity, one can be formed organically to suit whatever practice they may fancy. For Pixar, it is about reuniting the real world with the virtual and really coming to terms with what improbably fantastic circumstances would be like to the 'actor' (voice and animation) so that the millions of viewers in the cinema would be able to partake in that slice of unreal brilliance.

Especially as seen in Toy Story 3, the deeper significance of the series multiplies to surpass the genre of a child's film. Barbie, the queen idol of the blonde stereotype, drops the most sagacious line in the whole movie. The boy goes to college and the ripple effect of growing up causes waves in the toy world. Pixar really have done justice to this charming animation.


Following an instinctive urge to read a full fledged novel, I detoured to the public library and scanned, as you do, the 'returned books' shelf. I see it as an excellent filter. There, I found my latest read, Sashenka by Simon Montefiore. A single morning later, I am a nearly a quarter way through this slab of a book.

This certainly did not happen with the Victor Hugo novel that I gave a stab at. So what is so captivating about this story, simply based on historical research and dramatised by excellent prose? Incidentally, it is about a pivotal time in Russia's timeline, starting just prior to the revolution. Although Russia is rather unfamiliar territory to me, I can draw lines to the Chinese revolution's context passed onto me by my forefathers. Reading a story full of layers of discovered/recorded context can only be done in comparison to what you already know, anchored on the culture and heritage in which you reside. Avoiding specificity, here is an example: once I was talking to a friend, who is of a completely different heritage to me, about past political movements and how we perceive foreign countries due to these 'eccentric' movements. The view of a country differed so much to her's that I immediately thought someone was misguided, or at least, misinformed.

Taking on this book, full of unfamiliar territory meant that I had to keep an open mind whilst still taking every detail into consideration to what I already know. Perhaps a detail that I had once read about in some fantasy novel is a daily affair in this story - the connection is rejuvenated and justified. In my opinion, it is useless to just read stories of your own basecamp; reading Jane Austen as an English native will hardly make you ponder the global human condition.


I didn't see it myself but a good friend of mine told be about it since she went to a few of these events. Gapfiller is a movement where, in the midst of a post-disaster environment, creatives get together and fill the spaces left behind my demolished lots and the life, creating culture in the absence of urban strongholds. Great effort! That is exactly what the citizens (as opposed to the city/infrastructure/aid) need after a traumatic event - a light in the amid darkness, something to recuperate the tattered psyche of those affected by the disaster.


OK, cute thing of the week. Over-sized rubber ducky in Auckland! Unfortunately for Auckland, it seems that the only "public art" that are formed in our city are enlarged versions of common objects (eg enormous baubles, enormous rubber duckies...)


This is the 100th post! To be honest, this point should have been past ages ago, but alas, life and all it's speedbumps. Nevertheless, it is a time for consideration, and what better than to reassess the state of one's creativity.


Recently I came across a collection of doodles by a handful of authors. Now, I greatly respect writing as a creative vessel - nothing has been such a intricate form of 'civilised' (for lack of a better word) expression. With words, ideas can infiltrate people's minds. With sentences, it can possess the reader with imagination and things beyond imagery.

Sylvia Plath

The curious thing was, these authors doodle in their journals and notebooks, yet no such emphasis is given to this switch in expression. For me, negotiating area which is so charged with potential seems like something to explore and through Creative Collision and all of my other 'stuff', I do hope I can engage with it.