"On the Distinctions of a Plant and an Animal and on a Fourth Kingdom of Nature"

In 1826, Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal published an article which described nature as divided into three kingdoms, and, suggested the possibility of a fourth kingdom. This late philosopher’s understanding of nature — perhaps now considered archaic, my stical, perhaps even magical — inspired me to think of creatures which cross the lines separating the kingdoms of nature.

 

In this series, I play with the idea of a fusion of the four kingdoms as the guiding metaphor. Forms belonging to mineral, vegetal, and animal kingdom dissolve into each other. The primigenal darkness is a natural backdrop, but if left unchecked, it can also extend its drooping rhizomes over the forms from other kingdoms.

 

I wanted to create a mood that reflects the mystical atmosphere of the text. I imagined how the crossing of boundaries would happen, and how the creatures and their creator would feel. There would certainly be anxiety and tension, like when waiting for stone to turn into gold in an alchemist’s lab, followed by awe in face of (un)holy transformations. How would the creature respond to its new condition: with anger and rage, or with quiet resignation?

*highly-rated entries in Emerging Talent Awards 2016

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© 2019 by Chiu Yee Ling