kai hian ong
Diploma 13

Located within the picturesque landscape of Hampstead heath, a Jewel box reveals itself as a container of the precious Francois Pinault collection. My project is about establishing a new way of perceiving contemporary art in a domestic space.

“It(kaleidoscope) contains a slit through which we can look into the real world, and allows us to watch how messy environment is transformed into a thing of lawful beauty by multiple mirrors inside the tube. (...) we look into a realm of simple order, which can probe with ease.”

- EH. Gombrich on the kaleidoscopic effect

By exploring the relationship between the observer and the idea of framing in contemporary art and architecture, my proposal references E.H Gombrich’s idea of the kaleidoscope as a starting point for the re-introduction of focal centrality. Through an array of reflection, repetition and fragmentation, this new kaleidoscopic system of ornaments becomes the platform that frames and encapsulates Art and Architecture into a total work of art.

The preference of the line of beauty in a 3D conical spiral by William Hogarth contradicts Pugin’s preference of the flat and the abstract, so as one will not feel that one is trampling upon nature. The dialogue between figuration and abstract gave rise to the naturalist plates, where the dichotomy of the fleur de lis and the iris becomes the subject of transformation from the psychedelic abstraction to monochromatic figuration. The idea that the surface as a shell of lines by Hogarth lends itself to the abstraction of the vanity mirror into C and S curves as series of geometric movement, as opposed to Gombrich's idea of lawful beauty, the kaleidoscope transforms the messy world by multiple mirrors within the tube. Through the geometric plates, the kaleidoscopic logic transforms the S and C curves into a symmetry of fragmented order. The materialist plates reference the materials of a deconstructed kaleidoscope, revealing the world of semi-precious stones (agate) and stainless steel as a jewel box containing precious art. 

By exploring the idea of luxury products, the geometry of various stone-cutting techniques is used as the framework for manipulation, the plates aim to create the juxtaposition of the natural agate grains and the mimetic reproduction through the machine.The iconographic plates reveal the new ornamental mask which exists between proportion and attitude. This futile obsession with defining the beautiful face becomes the motif in expressing the ideal beauty. The project employs the use of ornaments to recreate a 'frame' that not only contain but also accentuates the artwork within.The project explores the idea of enriching the artwork through its context and its frames, animating it and NOT isolating it like the White Cube gallery. 

Traces of ornaments in the backdrop reveals a sense of the artwork in the house.Hampstead Heath west meadow transformation.A close-up photograph of the model, where it reveals the agates as an inlaid panel.