A symbiotic relationship between two organisms is represented in Tingting Chen’s narrative exploration of marriage, Separately Together. In nature, a symbiotic relationship is one between two organisms who coexist for mutual reward, a relationship which increases their biological effectiveness and adaptability.
“As humans, we are eager to find someone who can share our lives. We try to understand a friendly relationship. When feelings break down, we always consciously look for answers to questions. Many factors can interfere with and destroy the original symbiotic relationship of a marriage, which originally came as a balanced arrangement of happiness, but later fell into a discordant state as the symbiotic relationship changed. Symbiosis is the cornerstone of a successful marriage or future divorce. Symbiosis can only keep up with changing times and personal personality, skills, and changes in life concepts by staying vigilant”.
The materials used in Chen’s work, such as silver, leather, wood, express her reflections on family and marital relationships and the relationship between the individual and the group and the objects themselves are a mechanism to draw us emotionally together, telling stories and connecting the wearer to others.
Chen follows Schank and Robert (1995) in suggesting that human knowledge is based on stories and that the human brain is composed of the cognitive mechanisms necessary to understand, to remember and to tell stories, she says:
“We can share passion, sadness, hardship, and happiness through stories. The story allows us to better understand ourselves and find common ground”
This common ground is also to be found in the relationships between objects (and their stories), the body and surroundings. Chen’s narrative jewellery allows maker and wearer to break the chains of thought which characterize jewellery as “an expression of feminine desire for ornament” (Turner, R., 1996) and allow it to be an active participant in the forming and maintenance of human relationships.