H21 × W16 × D23
1993 (270 days)
I used the nine months of three seasons, relying on the soul of the boxwood, the carving knife in my hand, the dialectic between my old and new self, and continual dialogue with myself to allow “Affinity of Life, Affinity of Death” to fully reflect my encounter with myself, and my enlightenment from this encounter about all coming together of affinity. This is the major philosophical reflection: existence is but a coming together of affinity; death is nothing more than the non-existence of the body. Our flesh and bones pass away, so no matter how thoroughly we seek to minutely depict the subtle details of skin, the only way to startle and elicit profound resonance is to use precise methods of carving and hollowing out to express the feeling of skin so that it is completely like the real thing, and make the pupils in the eyes expressive right down to the microscopic detail of the retina in the eye so that it appears as a startling contrast that one can sense.
Yes, yes, so what does the affinity of life give us? And what does the affinity of death bring? Is the me with sufficient affinities my skin deep visage or my real one? My flesh appearance is wrapped around my skeleton, while my head is the support for my visage. The two types of likeness should produce the same me, but, the real me is not in my skin, not in my skeletal frame, but is half visage and half bones, much like that alluded to in the intriguing short poem by Su Shi:
If you say zither sounds from the qin arise, Why placed in its case do the strings not sing? If you say the sound in the fingers lies, Why not ask the gentleman’s fingers to let us hear them ring?
Whether I live or die, depart or leave something behind, is it me or not me? I hope that my ego can bequeath something that allows the affinity of life to not die, and this life to not decay!
Sculpting boxwood allows the creator to challenge his technique over and over, to see how far he can take it. “Affinity of Life, Affinity of Death” clearly used 270 days of hard thought and arduous practice to once again attest to a new carving technique of unprecedented difficulty. After carving out the eyeballs, it involved scraping out the network of veins on the periphery of the eyeball, the tiny capillary vessels within, the large blood vessels, the surface skin layer and fat layer all clearly, teeth that gleam like teeth, the complex and myriad changes of lines in the skin, so that one cannot help but want to touch it to see if it is really skin or not. Exhaustive attention to detail such as this and mental effort display genuine mastery of skill, but also ask the sincere question: Do I exist? Does existence exist?
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