2017, Mixed media (Sculpture & Video art), 300* 700
People have endlessly sought for modernity in the past 200 years, pondering on scientific methods and new machines. We often have blind trust about those scientific and spiritual, since neither of the two are totally separable from human lives. It is also true that people see science as something absolutely factual, and religion and spiritual concepts as psychic; despite this difference, I believe that both of them are essential in people’s lives. The urge to study the spiritual concept is because of the animism, which can be a root to many religious beliefs in modern society.
A British anthropologist Tylor explained the roots of religion through animism. Animism is a concept where other objects and living beings are understood as having souls like humans do. This concept was a quality of primitive religion, and it is difficult to see it in modern society. But I believe that spiritual values are inseparable with our lives despite of development in religious beliefs and definition of religion itself. Since there are animistic features in modern religions like Buddhism, Christianity and Muslim, it gives enough legitimacy to Tylor’s studies on animism as origin and fundamentals of religion in our society.
Discrimination based on religion and other factors is believed to have similar gravity as violence. Although people consider this common sense, it is easy to see some believe their religion as superior over those of others. Instead of categorizing animism as religion or a form of belief, animism should be defined as religious “arts” and a way of life, since it is deeply rooted in our characteristics albeit the development of other “scientific” methods used in life. The desire to give personality to objects like dolls or pets have direct relationship with animism, and this leads to mind’s calm in our lives. Of course, just because a child wishes her dog to start talking like a real human, it is realistically impossible for such thing to happen; but I believe that such act is valuable in that it provides people with comfort and refuge.
I wish to perceive the remnants of animism in modern society as a “candle.” The act of endowing the flame with meaning – through making a wish or performing a ritual – itself is an animistic doing. The candle that we burn for many purposes look similar with flame at its end, but throughout different cultures around the world, it carries the same meaning in it is used as a tool to reflect people’s will. Buddhist temples light candles before Buddha, and Churches to the same for God. Candle plays the role of an object of holy being, and an animistic median to carry out the believers’ messages. Candles sacrifice themselves and burn to be ceased in order to light the vicinity; candles are used to heat up a larger space and fill the surroundings, representing unity of the masses; and that it does not fights against the dark, it reflects hope and dreams of the lighter. They continue to burn before a spiritual figure, with people praying to overcome their memory and past with their imaginations made from contemplation before the candle. This is why I believe that candles represent religion and animistic values.