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Art brought British artist Jamie Paul to Asia, where he was exposed to a culture intertwined with Asian traditionalism and Western modernism. As much as he was disappointed by the domination of westernised influences in Asia, he was exhilarated by how products like Coca Cola were reinterpreted to fit the Asian way of living. This thrill brought him to work on his upcoming first Singapore art exhibition Endless Curves of Neon.

It all started when Jamie was first introduced to Japan’s street culture in Tokyo: “From an art point of view I was overwhelmed by the colour, graphics and neon. Visually something just clicked in my mind and I was hooked.” This also affected the concept of Endless Curves of Neon.

Endless Curves of Neon sparks off certain questions relating to the infinite exposure of advertisements around us. The root inspiration of the exhibition’s artworks was Orchard Road, which Jamie described as where “one cannot escape the mass media assault.

“Our desires are pre-packaged for us in front of our very eyes as window displays or billboard images.”

Jamie’s paintings portray men as innocent beings helplessly attacked by the multiple advertisements we come across in a daily basis. It makes you ponder the issue of lost identity and the supremacy of mass media.

Though these ‘creatures’ are created by the human race, mass media is portrayed as being from another world, which we are accustomed to, yet so far away from. This leads to the subject of lost identity. Exposed to these mass media and the different messages we are now adapted to, is our true individuality lost? You start to wonder how you will define your identity if you were to close yourself behind the gate to this other world. Wait, is that even possible to begin with? Thus, you think of the power mass media has, compared to your weak strength.

Jamie expresses this defenselessness in his title: “The word ‘endless’ conveys a feeling of sadness to me in this context. The realisation that no matter how hard one can attempt to avoid or ignore the bombardment of persuasive imagery, it will always continue indefinitely, re-inventing itself and finding new ways to attack us.”

Mould yourself
At the end of the day, it almost seems as though Jamie is trying to express how he felt when he was first exposed to Asia.

People manipulate mass media to suit them and your lifestyle. That’s why, though we all are victims of mass media’s attacks, we choose to be exclusively affected by certain medium. For instance, you respond to commercials that affect your lifestyle and pick up the magazine that interests you. Jamie defined the other half of his title, ‘Curves of Neon’, as this upper hand we have, which he associates with a “warm, bright, happy feeling [of] buying and satisfaction”. In that sense, we are one point ahead in sustaining at least a bit of our true identity.

However, one thing’s for sure; we can never free from the shackles of mass media as long as the technology advances.

Endless Curves of Neon will run from Jul 29-Aug 3 at the Forth Gallery.

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