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In the House under the Sea

In the House under the Sea

In House Under the Sea (1986 [B.E.2529]), Somphong imagines a dwelling in the depths of the sea. Metaphorically desiring to show how he, too, could quite well happily dwell with the other creatures of the natural world who happened to live deep below the surface of the sea, he opted to paint a house in the briny deep perched on odd stilts akin to the spindly legs of crabs. In a masterful short series of visual puns reflective of the best European intertextual artistic practise and using a rebus-like painterly technique, the artist depicts an imagined house—vaguely reminiscent of traditional Thai houses in the countryside raised on pillars to avoid dangerous creatures and monsoon floods alike in addition to lending space to domesticated animals—to be shockingly animate since so unexpected. Close inspection reveals that the house is moving under its own powers and has fins to help propel it through the water, thereby being vividly suggestive of the cosmological truth that there are no radical distinctions to be drawn between animate and inanimate matter as is nowadays in a sense confirmed by molecular biology in its account of the structural features of viruses and the morphology of the Rickettsia.