In –, the symbol for a negative quantity or a minus sign, the artists explore the negativity bias. Defined as the negativity effect, it refers to the notion that all things being equal, negative things make more of an imprint in our psychological makeup than neutral or positive things.
One might be surprised, but there is substantial researchevidence that negative events, unpleasant thoughts and traumatic experiences create a bigger impact in memory, attention, learning, decision-making and taking risks than their positive equivalents. It is this fertile ground for expression that the artists present in their recent works as they use their signature styles to provide images that provoke further understanding.
Take, for example, the remnants of a possible massacre by Lui Manaig, with his sphere-filled background strewn with sprawled inert bodies. Though a negative connotation may come to mind, who knows if this is just the remains of a drunken party, a sick joke played amongst Punk’d peers, or plainly a warning to never be misled by abusive posers and frenemies?
As befuddlement clears a path towards emotionalunderstanding, one might easier relate to Aiya Balingit’s figures – helpless creatures cowering against authority, guilty of mistakes that they might have committed and the varying degrees of punishment that might ensue. This is trauma at its barest, much like harrowing childhood memories that we would like to block from our minds forever.
Pow Marin, however, presents his subjects with heads filled with colorful sea anemones that may be likened to thoughts and feelings buried deep inside. Whether alone or in a crowd, one’s abysmal emptiness may be top of mind, leading to isolation and social awkwardness. From the outside looking in, an individual may be viewed as cool and composed, but set against a crowd, he or she might have a different point of view and emotions of sadness, envy, bitterness, and that ever-pressing fear of missing out.