Why being someone is so important? Taking Charles Darwin’s Natural Selection theory as a framework to analyse this issue, we might simply assume that the reason individuals keep expressing who they are is because of their natural drive to survive. Expressing one’s self and identity has been a significant social behaviour as it is comparable to an index used to imply what a person is capable of, how one could possibly contribute to the community’s members and why he or she shall not be castrated from the society.
In the age of information technology, not only within physical boundary, one’s self and identity could be portrayed and interpreted via a diverse range of signs and symbols combination in the virtual realm of social network, including images, texts and other forms of virtual interactions. This seems to be a much more powerful and effective self-construction tool rather than organising one’s self in the real world. At times, we have to admit that these virtual constructed images and representations are probably more convincing than their substantial existences.
“Dash” is one of two mixed-media sculptures in “The Transformation of Self and Identity in Virtual Space”, an art project visualising the paradox between Buddhist philosophy and identity representation crisis among individuals in virtual society. In practical terms, each Thai-Pali letter in Anattalakkhana Sutta and Abhidhamma 7 Verse, the two incantations that convey the Buddhist supreme truth and non-self concept, were interpreted into English, an international language used among humankind, via Facebook’s translation which gave the ridiculous result that is completely different from the original meaning. This process was used to show the inexact translation efficiency of the system in delivering the notions of things.
The English text was then converted into another form of communicative language used between human being and computer-based devices, namely binary numeral system which consists of two different symbols, zero(0) and one(1). Consecutively, a series of zero and one was supplanted by a representation in forms of white and black square shape ( □ and ■ ) respectively. Metaphorically, these rectangular images symbolise “pixel”, the smallest visual element of Raster images, one of visible digital-beings, likewise, a cell is proved to be the smallest unit of all organisms. Additionally, the combination of white and black squares also satirically refer to pixelated mosaic images that disfigure and conceal the real identity and meaning of some peculiar visual language which failed to meet the standards of media censorship system. Analogically, this censorship process seems to be comparable to how the use of social network could possibly alter the original self and identity of the users. These encoded messages were finally taken as a primary visual element for composing the forms of the artworks.