Elemental Cycle Pt. 1: Man Overboard!

January 24, 2009

As promised, I’ll be posting the Elemental Cycle Series,a five parter, including water, wood, fire, earth, and metal. This order, you might notice, is known, in Feng Shui terms, as the creative cycle. In other words, to invoke any particular element in any corner of the room, you have to build up to it with the two elements preceding it. There’s more to it than that. But that’s a whole different canoodle of oodles.

This piece, Man Overboard!, was inspired by the work of world-famous Japanese painter Katsushika Hokusai. You’re more than likely familiar with his piece, The Great Wave off Kanagawa. Well, it was that piece in particular (which, if you look closely, resembles a yin-yang) that inspired me to think of how to express waves as these cartoony, mountainous things. 

I love the idea of many men being swept out to sea. All of them bumping into one another, drowning, flailing, clutching, churning, hopeful and doomed. I mean, there’s a reason that Titanic sold so well, and it’s not the acting quality. 

We love tragedy. Does it need to be said?

All my favourite bands reflect this: Tom Waits, Radiohead, The Decemberists, on and on and on. Of all the emotions, sadness is the juiciest.

It occurs to me that all the stones in all the elemental pictures represent something. In water, they represent people. In wood, fruit. In fire, cinders. In earth, uh…earth? Sedimentary lines? And in metal, nothingness.

Each of these correlations has, I think, a sweet, poetic resonance. After all, aren’t we all just…water?



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