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A Postmodern Nihilist's Étude

(Work in Progress, 2024 - )


Exploring the Solitude of Existence through the Lens of Nihilism with a hint of Postmodernism.

A Postmodern Nihilist's Étude is not only my latest published collection but also an exercise of mine as an artist in the medium of photography. "Étude" translates to a study or exercise, a genre commonly found in classical music. The reason I use the term "study" to describe this series is to reflect my own inner cultivation and the introspection of my thoughts. This journey of reflection, through the medium of photographs, presents both abstract and literal elements. Depending on my mental and psychological state, my philosophical stance always oscillates between nihilism and existentialism. The photographs I capture are also greatly influenced by my emotions, psychological, and mental state at the moment. Despite this, I still consider my stance to lean more towards that of a nihilist. I believe that individuals are ultimately solitary beings, each existing in their own void.

The German philosopher Schopenhauer once proposed The Hedgehog's Dilemma: a parable that likens individuals' attempts to establish interpersonal relationships to hedgehogs seeking warmth from each other in cold weather, yet hurting each other with their spines when too close, hence the need to maintain a distance. This theory leads me to question, what is the meaning of our lives? Or is it merely an effort to connect with other entities to combat loneliness? Perhaps we are purposefully brought into this world, but I believe searching for our existential meaning is futile, as the world operates on various gears, and we are but the gears of society within it. Despite our desire to break free from the system and witness the full truth of the world, the gears around us continue to turn, preventing us from doing so, as we too are compelled to rotate with them. Thus, what drives us to seek meaning in a reality that seems aimless, governed by a few, and ruled by established norms? I utilise the concept of the Möbius strip from topology to depict life as an infinite cycle of directionless, unidirectional development. We may choose to explore our own significance in this endless journey or halt at a point, choosing to comply with the system.

I invite the audience to delve deeply into the mood of these photographs. While many of the images are scenes from daily life, they implicitly exude a sense of ephemeral loneliness. As the audience appreciates these photographs, they might ask themselves several questions: What is the significance of "my" existence in this world? Ultimately, am I solitary? Is my connection with others real? Should I view life as an endless circle, spending my life searching for my meaning and place, or choose to be a gear under the system, turning ceaselessly until I wear out?

This collection is an exercise of mine as an art practitioner in the medium of photography, and the questions left above are the study exercises I leave for the audience to ponder.

Thomas, March 2024.

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