Art is very important to me. A friend of mine once stated that "Good art should change you". In my opinion, the 2012 movie "Cloud Atlas" is just that kind of art. One of the many themes explored in this film is that of Art, and it's effect on people. It has seven story-lines that span thousands of years, and in each story there is something- a piece of music, a journal, and even a motion picture that cross over into the next plot. A "ripple of Art" if you will. It's a fascinating concept, and one that I've recently discovered might actually be a real phenomenon that affects our world.
During the past year, I decided to take the plunge and create a youtube channel. I don’t feel comfortable having my real name blasted all over the internet, so I created an account under the username “Ganlanshu”(橄榄树）
I chose this name because it is the title of a particular Chinese song. Even though it isn’t even written in my native language, I was very touched the first time I heard it. As I have come to understand the lyrics more and more, this song continues to hold a special place in my heart. It was written by a woman who went under the name "San Mao" (三毛）. Recently, I discovered that this is not her real name.
San Mao was actually a cartoon character created in the late 1930s. It centers around an orphan boy (San Mao- Literally meaning Three Hairs), so named because of the three distinct hairs on his otherwise bald head. San Mao's wandering adventures chronicle the plight of young orphans during the Japanese invasion of Shanghai. A unique perspective for such a terrible time.
Chénmàopíng (陳懋平), a Taiwanese writer in the mid 1970's, felt a great affinity with the traveling orphan and decided to publish her writings under the name "San Mao". Under this pseudonym, Chénmàopíng wrote the song, "Ganlanshu"
Now we have a real life "art" ripple, just like Cloud Atlas. Chénmàopíng was inspired and touched by this series of cartoons about a little lost orphan boy- to the point she would create her own art under his name. You might even say her song "Ganlanshu" might even be a tribute to him, as it talks about wandering far away from home. Years later the ripple continues, because I in turn have been so inspired by "San Mao" that I have taken the name "Ganlanshu" as my pseudonym.
The "art ripples" displayed in Cloud Atlas are profound. For example, a goofy film in one storyline, becomes the inspiration for a life-changing decision in another.
A cartoon series created in the 40's in China, inspired a girl from Taiwan. She grew up to be a writer who in turn has inspired me- a young American in the 2000's. It's a small art ripple, but the effect has impacted at least one life- mine.
Good art is powerful and remains powerful across time. It can even breach the boundaries of language and culture.
I'm ending my little discussion on "Art Ripples" with a plea to all the artists out there. We do not know how, or even if, our poetry, paintings, writings, or videos will stand the test of time. "San Mao" is old, "Cloud Atlas" is new. Who knows whether they will both last, or if their influence will fade away and be lost in the mass media of tomorrow.
But remember, the art we make today isn't just for ourselves, our friends, or even our culture. It has the potential to reach far into the future, past our lifetimes. It might touch other individuals who don't even exist yet. That is a huge responsibility. So let's be artists who change things for the better. Let's make good art.
Watch a cartoon of San Mao: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxxsK3m-F-w
Listen to the beautiful song, "Ganlanshu" by Chénmàopíng (陳懋平) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrjQmZ8t8nQ
Check out my very neglected youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCme1dxcWsO-r0id8iwXo0EQ