Fleeting Impressions

BY MADS BAJARIAS | When I first learned about Kin Misa's rusty work, I didn’t know what to think. I thought it was a joke.

Consider: Shiny objects get top marks in pop culture. Among the buzzwords of our brand-conscious set are fresh, brand-new, sparkle and clean. Consumer-directed imagery is awash with gleaming objects: cars, gadgets, rooftops, malls, faces, teeth, hair. Bling is corrosion-free. This thinking isn’t limited to purveyors of SUVs and mouthwash. Darwinian biology associates shininess with desirability, robust health and enhanced capacity for reproductive success. Radiant hair inside a shiny car means a winner, baby, or so they say.

Losers, on the other hand, are portrayed as dull, jagged, decayed, rusty. Someone sluggish and slow is “rusty.” Unfit. Fit to be scrapped. Junk.

But as we see in Misa’s “Stop the Lights Falloutbot,” rust can be more than those things. Corrosion evokes time's passing. Of a life lived. Misa's explorations in oxidation shines a light into our own condition and the gradual breaking down of our bodies’ machinery. One day nothing will be left of us but ghostlike imprints slowly fading away. As Yoda might have put it, ephemeral beings we are, mmm? Then party on, we must.

The marks of corrosion on Misa’s work seem to whisper: All things must pass. As the replicant Roy Batty in "Blade Runner" intoned, all our moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

Misa answers a few questions about “Stop the Lights Falloutbot” (wackadoodle title, though).

Dimensions. Rust on canvas?

KM: Rust on board, 4 feet by 4 feet. I made it for my first one-man show at PROSE Gallery last December. I made it around November.

How do you make the rust stick?

KM: People always ask me that question. But it’s really so simple. Just use your imagination. How you think I did it is how I did it.

What triggered this fascination with rust?

KM: A college mate introduced me to rust's richness. He replicated the rusty color with oil paints and he also used rusty objects in his work. A lot of people actually like rust. I guess rust has an endearing quality because it is tied to the idea of impermanence. I hope I used the right word.

After doing a show about rust, are you considering moving on to other ideas?

KM: I love rust! I found my own world in it and I will probably explore it even more. The possibilities are endless. You just got to keep a healthy imagination. Don’t stop being a kid.

I am constantly exploring other ideas and other mediums.

Right now, I also make little functional sculptures: smoking pipes made of hardwood which can be seen in my website. I get the wood from a lumber yard up in Nueva Vizcaya. I use the bits and pieces left over from the chairs, tables and doors they make up there. Kamagong is really rare and I don't ever see it in the lumber yard. A friend just gave me a few scraps of kamagong which are denser and heavier than narra. They're like stone. I plan to make bigger sculptures, and maybe some furniture soon. I sell the hand-carved pipes: P200 for the narra and P250 for the kamagong.

I also take pictures of just about everything. I love imagery and I hope to do another documentary. Documentaries are something I’m also passionate about.

Tell us about the documentary you made.

The docu I made is called "Laro Sa Quiapo." Its about children in Quiapo and the games they play in their harsh environment. It's a bit disturbing and tender at the same time. You'll see how kids can't stop being kids no matter where they are. I'm really proud of my first docu and I hope more people get to see it. Pinoy na pinoy. I'll upload it on YouTube soon.

I want to do my next docu on dog fighting. It's just so hard to get into 'cause it's illegal and all. I don't condone cruelty to animals, but I want to see what's going on. It must be intense.

Thanks Kin.

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