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Project Advisor 1
Project Advisor 2
The project is an attempt to discuss various questions of philosophical significance including aesthetics, knowledge, and free will through putting together segments of perceptual and emotional experience in life. In this attempt, all the sounds, noises, proses, songs, and music become the materials to recreate those experiences in a dramatic yet logical way.
It opens up with a scene in the early spring: a clumsy father is trying to teach his son, who has all the weird thoughts jammed in his head and clearly not paying attention, to jump a rope, as the street-cleaning car drives by playing a lame tone and sprays water and dust all over the street. Meanwhile, a novice driver bumps into a tree just outside where she parked and then finds the first green leaf of early spring stuck in the crack of the broken window. Everything seems to be developing in a chaotic and unorganized way, yet you can see the hope and beauty in the image lying beneath the uncertainty on the surface. The early spring is a metaphor for aesthetics: we appreciate the novelty in the experience, we fill the uncertainty with our imagination, and we also feel the freedom to act in this chaotic world. Nevertheless, human’s unstoppable tendency to rationalize, find patterns, and gain knowledge destroys those novelties and uncertainties and leads us to discover determinism. The narration, thus, goes on taking the boy’s perspective and outlines how he witnesses the downfall of beauty and eventually discovers determinism, and this path culminates in the piece A Nihilist’s Monologue, which combines the boy’s introspective monologue with the plot in One Hundred Years of Solitude where Aureliano’s finds out the fate of his family laying out in a way without any causal relations and chronological order. Just as why the title of this project modifies its reference, James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, to A Portrait of the Young Man as an Artist, it is implied that the artist in the young man has died at this point and him living on his life afterward no longer as a young man.
After this point, the music reverses into a bright atmosphere praising the search for truth and knowledge and it seems like the narrator starts again to pursue his self-realization as depicted in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, yet it is indeed only a flashback to the young man’s early childhood. The piece Looking into the Sun, for instance, describes the narrator’s childhood experience of trying to look into the sun: He spent the entire afternoon trying to look into the sun but failed because the sun was too dazzling to be stared at. He then started to imagine a planet with creatures without eyes crawling in the eternal warmth. With the structure largely inspired by the Chinese film The Sun Also Rises, the project terminates with hope and imagination with the audience knowing the real ending buried in the middle, just like endeavoring to imagine and live a life that one knows is already determined.
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Li, Bochen, "A Portrait of the Young Man as an Artist" (2023). Senior Projects Spring 2023. 252.
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