In this article, TNG member artist, Fuen Chin, talk about the ideas and process behind Hypermorph Garden 2.0, a body of work currently being shown in a virtual exhibition supported by CENDANA Malaysia.
Hypermorph Garden 2.0
The Hypermorph Garden 2.0 project promotes collaboration between non-traditional materials and traditional materials in mixed-media painting. I initiated this project by upcycling fabric waste and yarn ends from collective fabric landfills in China and India, to create a new media for paintings.
Carefully, I reviewed the fabric waste and yarn ends. The fabrics were entangled with yarns and piled up liked a dusty cotton bulk – sitting on my desk. I have seen these wastes piled up like a mountain in many fashion industry areas in India, Cambodia and China. The fabrics are off-cuts from cutting tables and the yarn ends were the left over from weaving looms. I visited a few of the fabric landfills. I put on a face mask, a pair of gloves and collected some of the waste. Then, I separated the fabrics and yarns by picking each of them, one by one. In this process, I managed to select some of them that were in ‘good’ condition for the following up-cycling process. I had to throw away almost 40% of them that were polluted and hazardous. For the selected items, I sanitized them in a UV-C light sanitizer for 15 mins. After that, I trimmed the fabric waste into strips.
Some of the fabric was stretch fabric and some was non-stretch. For the stretch fabric, I had to stretch the strip to its maximum length. I intertwined each strip with yarn ends. The intertwining process was colorful! The process brought the waste in various colors to merge and be upcycled into rolls of unique yarn balls. The unique materiality of each of the yarn balls revealed the left over from what was once fashionable and went unnoticed into the collective fabric landfill. However, the upcycling process meant these yarn balls became a unique, distinctive material once again. The uniqueness of each of the yarn balls is non-repeatable because the resources are parasitic on the fashion industry. The origins of the resources are now bygone and forgotten.
Through this series of mixed media paintings, I want to emphasize that these yarn balls are non-traditional solutions for both design and art practices. Each yarn ball with embedded design treatment has been through an artistic metamorphosis process. To date, I managed to make sufficient rolls of these unique yarn balls for a few mixed-media paintings. The yarn provides a final touch to the paintings.
As a preliminary step to make the paintings, I use ink and acrylics as the opening mediums. I consider that ink and acrylics are traditional materials for paintings. Personally, I adore the depth of black ink, especially Chinese ink: it gives a painting a sense of abyss. I used black Chinese calligraphic ink in the series. As for tints of colors, I used acrylic for its thickness and odorless nature. The amalgamation of upcycled yarn balls, black ink and acrylics suggests an innovative yet parasitizing relationship between the traditional mediums – Chinese ink & acrylics – and non-traditional mediums – yarn balls.
Why is this project named Hypermorph Garden 2.0
I learned the concept of ‘morph’ from Muller’s morphs terms. I was particularly attracted to one of the terms, which was Hypermorph. It means a mutation that causes an increase in normal gene function. In 2019, I made a painting based on my speculation of the resulting shapes of flowers and plants in a tropical garden in the aftermath of a mutated gene. I elaborated the ‘shapes’ in the garden and named the painting: Hypermorph Garden. In this series of mixed medium paintings, I continued speculating about the fictional garden. Instead of presenting proven scientific images, I chose to present a series of surreal, metaphorical mixed-media paintings.
Why is this series of paintings in a virtual exhibition?
This series of mixed-media paintings are in a virtual exhibition supported by CENDANA Malaysia. This initiative aims to develop the arts and culture sector within the creative industry in Malaysia. In my proposal, I highlighted the necessity of sharing artworks through digital platforms during this uncertain time of the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide. Such events are crucial as a form of art therapy for people who are staying at home and are in need of interesting content to experience online.