Sunday, May 21, 2006

Good Question.
Short answer: it doesn't
Long answer: historically the temple or the synagogue, has been the place of worship. It was the place where the presence of God resided. Its where the people went to pray and worship, its where the high priests met with God and gave sacrifices. where they pleaded on behalf of the people for God's forgiveness.

With the incarnation of Jesus and the new covenant that he created by conquering death, the sacrifices were no longer necessary and everyone, not only the high priests, are able to converse with God. God no longer was confined to the holy of holies in the temple but his presence is with us wherever we go. He lives in us, our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
And yet for centuries, we still continue to worship in buildings built specifically. I dont think that in itself is a bad thing. It is good for a community of Christ to have a place they can go to fellowship with each other and praise God as a collective.

Cathedrals are said to have been built to honour God, built with riches and magnificence so show the majesty of God. They wanted to House of God to be fitting for their King. However this was often done at the expense of the people, of the uneducated and the lower class. people were told they had to pay money and confess their sins in order to go to heaven, if the scriptures were not made available to the people and they in fact couldn't read anyway how were they to know that al that was required was a confession of sins and a belief in their heart that Jesus is Lord over all and they would be saved. but it was this money that provided for a lot of the cathedrals to be erected. its a contradiction that money was gained by dishonesty was used to build a place that honoured God. To communicate the power and majesty of God to an uneducated population through an excessive display of wealth where material wealth showed spiritual spirituality is more than a bit hypocritical.

These things aside, the buildings still provide a place of worship. And i have been in a few of these cathedrals where there are people worshipping in sincerity and the presence of God can be felt there. It is true of a church building where the ways of the world are not infiltrating the space, that it is easier to meet with God there.

However that is not to say that we should only be worshipping in these places.
I am an advocate of the concept of having a church without walls. And that is kind of where my conceptual idea orginated from. I wanted to make a transparent church. Where the worshippers on the inside were aware of what was going on outside them, this deals with issues of christians sometimes being too focused on looking upward and never on looking outward.
And the people on the outside can see what is going on inside, this deals with issues of hypocrisy, where sometimes the church hides behind their walls and their religion, to hide their corruption or to justify the things they do.

The way that my work is developing, and thinking about these issues in how i should present this as an installation, it would seem that the best way to show it is to hang it outdoors. As much as i want people to walk through it, in order to experience something, i can't force them, just like i can't force Jesus onto anyone. but i can encourage it.
It needs to hang outside because to install it in a room would deny the concepts of breaking down the walls. And i would love to have it integrating into nature. to be in nature but not of nature.

so this work, while it is imitating the structure of the place of worship, is not being made to create another place of worship, but it commenting on the conventions that these places of worship have propogated.

perhaps.... im still working on it

Thursday, May 18, 2006

"Elegance: The concept is not easy to explain - there is an ineffable quality
to some technology, described by its creators as concinnitous, or technically
sweet, or a nice hack - signs that it was made with great care by one who was
not merely motivated but inspired. It is the difference between an engineer
and a hacker."
-- Ms Pao, The Diamond Age.

The official tagline for my company Aeste is "engineering elegance".. I've
often asked myself what it meant.. The quote above sums it up perfectly.. It
is what I'm trying to create.. A professional engineering company that
strives to create elegant technology.. Any output from the company has to be
inspired and not just run-of-the-mill..

That was what I was trying to explain to my aunt last weekend, on a bus to
Oxford.. The mechanics of engineering can be easily taught and understood in
school.. However, good engineering is something that cannot be taught.. It is
something inbred..

"A good engineer is inspired, uses engineering mechanics, molds the laws of
physics, and turns inspiration into reality." -- Shawn Tan

I was most recently re-motivated (i've noticed that i require a lot of
re-motivation recently.. i've started to become jaded with reality) on my
visit to Berlin.. We got to visit several organisations.. One of which was an
engineering company whose only output is intellectual property..

I've always contended that my dream is to turn Aeste into an intellectual
property company.. This concept has been difficult to understand by many..
However, it is quite clear in my head.. And after visiting this German
company, it has become solidified.. There is a market for such businesses and
it is perfectly plausible to build one..

Aeste will be a company whose sole output is IP.. These IP will then be used
by other organisations/companies in order to make money.. This means that the
IP produced would have to be of extremely high quality and not your standard
dumb IP produced in much of the tech world today..

While visiting a vehicle manufacturer in Berlin, I was startled to find that
most of their engineering work was aesthetically driven.. As a hacker, and
being brought up in a formal engineering environment, aesthetics had always
been relegated to an after thought.. A skin is something you slap onto a
solidly engineered body, not the other way around..

However, it has become clear that in order to produce successful products,
user interface portion is extremely important.. Products should be
aesthetically driven.. Engineering should be the art of squeezing as much as
possible, into the constraint of the body.. This is true for both hardware
and software work.. User interface is key..

So, I have come to understand the true meaning of "engineering elegance" as I
originally intended it to be, 6 years after I had actually come up with the
tagline.. It's some higher objective to aspire to than to just plain make
money.. Hmm.. So, I guess that I've got something else to look forward to in
the next few decades of my life..

with metta,
Shawn Tan.