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Written in Sand is a project enthused by the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of material life. Millions of grains of sand are painstakingly laid into place on a flat platform over a period of time to form a ‘sand mandala’, only to be deconstructed shortly after their completion. Inspired by these intricate ‘sand mandalas’, whose creation and destruction is intended as a reminder of the impermanence of life, the project aims to initiate a debate on the subjectivity of this transience. When applying the philosophy to modern society, one could argue that the cultural implication of a creation probably outlives its physical structure. Case in point, religion is more permanent than the temple where it is practiced. Our creations are both precious and poignant and yet unmindful of its concerns. Using the metaphor of ‘sand mandala’Written in Sand is constructed as a vehicle to generate a dialogue, to realize the impermanence of digital reality perhaps, one that we consider is archived beyond our living years.

Having Transient London as the theme, the installation aims to demonstrate that nothing exists longer than an instant, except the thing that we hold in memory. It creates several instances of this memory, in the form of sand drawing, a postcard as well as a digital feed and critically questions the permanency of these media. To generate a debate that challenges the current accepted immortality of digital archives when pitted against the perceived permanence of physical infrastructures.

Here are a few snippets from the exhibition at Nursery Gallery, London.

Its a blurred line between what is reality and what is not. Just as, in our post modern society, we debate the co-existance of a truth and a non-truth. A non-truth necessarily is not a lie but a glorified truth at the verge of becoming a lie.

As Jean Baudrillard puts it, the existence of the hyperreal has challenged what is real. A theory on
how simulation precedes the reality but in all honesty, reality is what ‘should’ trigger simulation. An age where representation of reality has become a point of reference for reality itself. A classic example of which is mistaking actual footage of World War-II as clips from Saving Private Ryan.

‘Reality’ today, has been replaced by a complex system of signs – a reality constructed by
advertising – a reality of the absolute fake (Umberto Eco in Traveling Through Hyperreality).
We create realistic fabrications in an effort to come up with something that is better than real.

The ‘Evolution’ movie made by Dove illustrates the construction of reality which directly influences the society’s perceived reality (hyperreality) of female beauty. It is interesting then to note that even though we are aware of the fact that certain ideas are hyperreal, we choose to constantly compare ourselves among aspects of the society.
Another rather moving film by Dove, stemmed from the fact that only 4% of women consider themselves beautiful as opposed to when seen through other people’s eyes. The idea of one’s real self as opposed to the hyperreal image in our heads fueled by a perceived reality in media.

Then, is the society shaping the content of mass media or is the content of media
shaping the society?

The eternal question – does art imitate life or life imitate art?
This can be said that the society construes a truth (virtually all fiction) which is generally more interesting than what we could ever come across in everyday life. Umberto Eco pointed out, thus lies a sales pitch in every perceived reality that we create. Just as how critical theory has an effect on popular culture, popular culture too has had an effect on its perception of critical theory.

In the ‘wise’ words of Madonna ~ “You only see what your eyes want to see …”