I often wonder whether I am the same person as the one shown on my driver’s license — She looks familiar. However, the numbers that indicate her height and weight make her into an alienated figure that I need translation to understand, and I question whether she will be 19 centimeters shorter when we stand together.
The system of measurement is indeed a new language to me, even more foreign than the words that represent these units. My learning of this new language is also stagnant at this moment, as I find it challenging for me to admit the beauty of the Imperial system of measurement — trapped in the circle of human observation, nothing is decimal in this masculine system, and the fragmented numbers are crumbling everything in my eyes.
To break into this system, I decided to introduce a new unit that was once invented and used by my parents to measure trees and their child’s luck.
It is a return to the simpleness and humanism of the old days, as the only reference I need is a pair of hands of mine. I quantify nature with my human hands and then let nature quantify myself. There is no number involved, only failure or success, and eventually, I will turn the attempt into an all-success situation.
The rules are simple:
My middle fingers touching each other is one precise hug.
One precise hug equals a dad’s tree, which equals more possibilities to fulfill a wish.
My father has one tree that he adores and admires. One tree he knows nothing about but its extraordinary appearance. My only memory of this tree is that my middle fingers could reach each other while hugging and measuring this tree. It is the only truth of this tree I know, and it has become the foundation of my own measuring system.
I searched around the foreign gardens in Los Angeles, hoping to find one tree that fits in the measurement unit I brought traveling across the ocean.
The measurement tool of one precise hug is built to find the trees that guarantee luck and produce hope.
The original model of the hug was born in 2014, at Central Stadium, Nanjing, China. The original tree, which was named “dad's tree,” is restricted from reach apart from the students and faculty of the Nanjing Sports Institute due to COVID-19.
One Precise Hug
One Extended, Yet Still Precise Hug
Middle fingers touching each other is one precise hug.
One precise hug equals one dad’s tree, which equals more possibilities to fulfill one wish.
In both the virtual and the real world, these two fingers are unfixed and unbound to any existing systems of units.
The Sacred Unit of Measurement
Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de' Galilei’s middle finger is preserved in a shrine as if it belonged to a saint, although Galileo himself was considered a heretic.
Le Grand K, the international prototype of the kilogram, has been kept under lock and key. However, its weight has also changed throughout time.
To ensure the consistency and stability of this newly invented unit of measurement, the sacred standard of hope and luck was sealed in the glass egg and held by middle fingers that joined each other.
One Precise Inch
(made for one 67 inches tall woman to carry on her key chain)
Inch, derived from the old English ince, or ynce, was defined by King David I of Scotland around 1150 as the breadth of a man’s thumb at the base of the nail. To help maintain consistency of the unit, the measure was usually achieved by adding the thumb breadth of three men—one small, one medium, and one large—and then dividing the figure by three.
In many European languages, the word for "inch" is the same as or derived from the word for “thumb.”