Two Sides of the Same Coin

·  Violence · Peace  ·

I ponder on how so often there are two opposing forces within the same living being.

A whale gives its characteristic smile as it heads towards the light to take another breath.

A shark opens its mouth wide as it dives towards the deep and homes in on its prey.


   •    •

The primary and most powerful force in living things is to survive long enough so as to reproduce. Plants are so numerous because they are so vulnerable to attack. Animals and fish often form communities that improve their chances of survival. The apex animal on earth, humans, are so sophisticated in their attack and defence, no other living thing on the planet competes at scale.

Despite their dominance, and perhaps in part because of it, humans use and practice their skills of attack and defence against one another. They often fight and kill one another, sometimes in their millions. Their shark often overcomes their whale. They are drawn to the darkness in their quest to dominate, and much of their need to do so is driven by their primal urge to survive and to reproduce. This propensity to fight is born of insecurity. The aggressor is at heart, the one who is least certain of themselves, the one who feels vulnerable and weak. Those who are secure and strong have no need to fight or prove themselves.

Human's potential is to live more peacefully with one another and with other living things, yet their disagreements continue to lead to immense suffering of not only humans, but all living things that inhabit their conflict areas and far beyond. Vast amounts of energy and resources are consumed each year as weapons are manufactured and used. Human failure to act in the interest of all results in their conflict's negative impact on the continuing degradation of the earth's climate and life's longer term viability.

The artwork 'Two Sides of the Same Coin' is a visual metaphor for the pull of opposing forces. When I gaze at the picture I think of where my eye is most forcefully drawn. Towards the shark or whale? This picture gives me pause to consider my actions and to question why I choose a particular path. The path may not always be one of violence or peace. It may be more nuanced where my choice is one for my benefit, or another's. One of kindness, or harm. Like every human, I have the capacity to choose. I choose to be the whale for it is my only chance to inhabit both the sea and sky...

This artwork was created with the assistance of ai machine learning. This creative process is similar to any human method used to make, and requires I choose what I wish to include or set aside, what I draft and refine, before I begin to polish the work so that it becomes something that I am satisfied with. For me, this last stage includes writing text that forms an integral part of the art. Without the title and my words, the image is no more than a visual representation. Art has more value and relevancy when its meaning is layered with subtlety and substance.

The Whale follows, along with a full size extract from the artwork.