I was isolated – both physically and mentally.
I’ve lived in an island country named Palau for more than eight years – basically my whole childhood. In such a remote place I somehow fell in love with architecture, but there was no one to tell me what it was or how I was to grow my interest and passion to it. I was on my own.
There are not many buildings in Palau that I would consider works made with careful planning and intuitive design, so I had to search online for images of buildings which I would be amazed with and would unconsciously mimic. Those images were not of any masterpieces, but were enough to intrigue my urge to create my own designs. Then I began getting images, images that would just fly into my head and would explode into spaces. With more scrutiny and logical processing that I still vaguely understand how, such spaces would somehow would be combined to create a buildings. I remember trying to sketch those images and spaces, but I guess they were too complex for a 13-year-old to clearly express.
Years passed by and I began looking for books about architecture and finally met up with the real masters. I met tens of grand architects – both of the past and the present – whom I would never be able to encounter in real life. By then, I was done with mimicking others’ works. I began creating my own designs and each had their distinctions. I began using Sketchup around the time I started eighth grade. Sketchup was the only tool that I had, and I thought that it was the most effective tool to convey my thoughts and designs as close to reality as possible.
When I first began designing, my thoughts and what actually ended up being drawn were hardly identical. I added up extra elements and embellishments to cover up the voids in my vision. My visions were not complete and detailed enough, nor was I careful enough to meticulously assemble each spaces. I would have blueprints in my head but when I drew them out, there would be collisions of spaces, making the structure simply impossible to be built. I had to train myself . I would meditate for hours to make my imaginations more accurate and at the same time, more flexible and open to new influxes of ideas, both mine and others’. Around the end of my Junior year, I found a nearly complete coherence between my first images, or so called inspirations, and the finished works. Years of work have finally paid off.
Architecture became my life. Whenever I would get an inspiration, I would stop whatever I was doing and closed my eyes and would meditate on the images and spaces that somehow appeared into my head. After and in between the meditations, I would draw out rough sketches of the structures of the building. I wouldn’t bother recording the details; they were all carefully engraved in my head. Such meditations would take from minutes to hours.
Despite all those progresses I made, I still was alone; I did not have anyone to share my thoughts and opinions about architecture, then everything suddenly changed. This summer, I was given a chance to work as an intern in an architectural firm in Korea. I had a chance to meet with the head architect of the firm, Mr. Cho and had some sort of an interview. We talked about architecture and how I grew my passion and interest on it. Mr. Cho seemed to be quite interested in my story, so I showed him my works. I finally had my first professional feedback on my works. I both nervously and proudly presented my works; I remember one thing he said after minutes of scrutiny. “You have many thoughts… You have many thoughts.” The same words repeated twice in a slightly different tone. I kept the two words in my mind and repeated them to myself thousands of times. The architect also adviced me to travel the world and experience and see the works of other greater architects. I took the advice and with only two days of planning, I went on a trip to Japan to see the works of one of my favorite architect, Ando Tadao.
Although the main purpose of my trip was to visit the works of Tadao, other unexpected aspects of Japan struck me. For one whole week, I was immersed in the new culutre, city, architecture and people. I went to art museums designed by Tadao and other famous architects as was inspired not only by the design of the buildings itselft, but also by the works exhibited that I at first did expect much from. Those works made me realize that there is no boundary in art; anything created or morphed with any artistic intent could possibly be of significant artistic value. A mere line could signify and express numerous emotions; a simple circle could elicit thousands of thoughts. I felt them and tried to make them mine.
It was when I went to Chichu Museum of Art in Naoshima Island designed by Ando. I realized that he was manipulating consistency. Perhaps Tadao was able to control his inspirations and made the atmposheres and the forms of different parts of the building consistent and inconsistent when needed. He constrained his thoughts. I have not been controlling my thoughts and merely have been letting them go free. There was no order and unity in thoughts. New thoughts spontaneously sprouted out from every single thoughts and I would soon loose track of my original intent. That was the difference that I felt between me and Ando Tadao’s works. I finally got to realize what Mr.Cho meant.