Rule of Three


Natural Formation of Being

by Masaomi Raku

View an image of the artwork

Perfectly poised on its gallery plinth, Masaomi Raku’s Natural Formation of Being sits quiet and still. Yet, despite its motionlessness, the sculpture retains a sense of dynamism, as if it is ready to unfurl at any moment. This sense of movement, created by its circular shape, seems at odds with the sheer weight of black graphite from which it has been carved. The smoothness of its polished surface belies the presence and labour of a sculptor and their tools. The proportions of its hypnotic swirl seem defined by some divine ratio. With its fossil-like silhouette, the work appears to have been merely excavated and elevated for human admiration.

Words by Katherine Fieldgate

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Feature film

View a still from the film

Out of the shadows, a translucent figure emerges to join Uncle Boonmee and his family at the dinner table. The apparition of Boonmee’s late wife becomes increasingly solid, but conversation is not interrupted by outpourings of shock or awe. Instead, the protagonist simply offers the newcomer a glass of water, acknowledging that she may have travelled far before arriving. Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s film traces Boonmee’s final days, as the boundaries between the living and the dead fall away. The work forms a light-hearted exploration of spirituality, often surreal but never sensationalised. As we watch, we feel as if we are experiencing the slow passing from one world to the next.

Words by Katherine Fieldgate

Next Lifetime

by Erykah Badu

View the album cover

In the introduction to her second single, Erykah Badu receives a call from a prospective lover, whose speech is peppered with passionate proclamations: ‘I can see myself being with you forever.’ She shares his sentiments in part, but is already in a caring relationship. Her solution: to reconvene in the next lifetime, whether as boy and girl or as butterflies. An insistent, two-pitch keyboard motif accompanies the vocal hook, transposed with every new question that Badu asks. In its electronic bleeping, it evokes an early cell-phone ringtone, etched into the song’s texture as if a reminder of the opening conversation.

Words by John Wadsworth

Today's connection

All artworks are concerned with transmigration, the movement of the soul from one body to another after death. Natural Formation of Being is from Masaomi Raku’s Transmigration series.

More to discover

Natural Formation of Being: View the artwork here, and see further works from the same series here.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives: Watch the trailer here. Lawrence Chua has interviewed Apichatpong Weerasethakul (the film’s director) for BOMB Magazine, as have Nicolas Rapold for Filmmaker Magazine, and Andrew Pulver for The Guardian.

Next Lifetime: Listen to the song here.

Question of the day

Which artworks about transmigration would you recommend?
Let us know on FacebookPatreon, or Twitter.

Also on Silent Frame