A couple of months ago, Katinka Kleijn asked me if I was interested in writing a movement of a work Oil-Free Blush exploring the toxic,carcinogenic properties in cosmetics for the upcoming Chicago Humanities Festival. It immediately made me think of my many allergic reactions to cosmetics.
Cosmetics have been used in a large variety of styles that reflect beauty of different cultures. I have been shocked by the Asian ideal of beauty as a flawless, porcelain white face. This face has been depicted in centuries in their art and still proves to be a popular desire among modern Asian women. Because of this desire to appear immaculate, Asian women are seeking a monotonous idea of beauty that erases their own individuality,emotions and expressions. The idea of suffocation is only brought to more attention when men would be playing the roles of women in painted white faces in traditional Chinese operas.
I chose the ingredient Aluminum 40 Lake because I wanted to create a piece that had something to do with color. “Lake” is often associated with pigments or dyes and in this case, from aluminum, a metal that has been considered toxic to ingest in many ways. I do not know if Aluminum 40 Lake is in many of the popular whitening cremes, but I found it fascinating that the Asian women try to take color out of their skin, whereas blush is something that is suppose to bring color. Either way, both types of cosmetics are bound to be very toxic if they are trying to change the color/pigment of your skin.
In this piece, the loops are introduced in correlation to a cosmetic product, creating more and more layers as it unfolds. The music slowly becomes more distorted beyond recognition until finally, a match is struck to light fire. Here’s a picture of the score.