Second Nature

Second Nature

Second Nature, I and II

Sumi ink and graphite pencil on washi, 35.5 x 26 cm

This pair of sumi-e paintings—shadow tracings—is done with the idea of a “second nature” and the features of something “ornamental” in mind. The experiment began in late January. I worked to make both pieces each a “photocopy” image of the other in poetic time: unique in ways subtle enough to be detected, yet not enough to be taken as disparate or divergent. Both were done at one take, rather by default than by design.

The words I handwrote are by Ralph Ghoche, Canadian historian of architecture and urbanism. They are chosen from his essay “Second Nature”:

“Ornament was a second nature, one that captured and focused the animate forces more potently than the living world itself.

Fear played a critical part in conceptions of ornament in the 19th century . . . By most accounts of the time, ornament first emerged as a response to a primitive terror of nature. It was a recoiling from the external world, a way to bring order to the dizzying chaos.”

Neither words nor image is ornamental here.

Fiona Sze-Lorrain

Paris, April 2020

Ralph Ghoche
Fiona Sze-Lorrain


Les Parapluies du 14ème
Walter Frisch
SEPTEMBER 25, 2023
Reimagining the Digital Code
MAY 16, 2023
A Man Contemplating his Life
MAY 11, 2023
Post-Civil War America and Anti-Asian Racism
MAY 5, 2023
The High Winds of Kerguelen
MARCH 10, 2023
Poetics of War
Library Chat - Nikita Grigorov and Ihor Mitrov
MARCH 6, 2023
The Curious Life of Objects
Natalka Bilotserkivets and Zoya Laktionova
MARCH 3, 2023
Dream Series: Episode 2
FEBRUARY 28, 2023
Falling Asleep
Dream Series: Episode 1
FEBRUARY 28, 2023
A Conversation on Typhoons
FEBRUARY 24, 2023
We use cookies to enhance your experience of visiting this website. Find out more.