Monthly Archives: March 2007

Drift Net By Choy Ka Fai

Drift

“Drift Net is an interactive performance exploring the concept of the blogging phenomenon. The performance uses unconventional instruments to interact with a performer’s body and the movement of the body is translated into quantitative data that manifest via the elements of sound, light and video. In collaboration with performers Rizman Putra, aspidistrafly, light artist Fujimoto Takayuki, sound artists Daito Manabe, Satoshi Horii, Motoi Ishibashi and web & print designer Torrance Goh. More at http://www.driftnet.sg. “

It is usually quite difficult to access the type of works that cross disciplines – in this case between sit-down theatre, sound art, performance art, multimedia projections – but the director of Drift Net, Ka Fai made it seem quite easy. The scenes crossed beautifully and seamlessly like fleeting day dreams, immersing the spectator in surround sight and sound. As the performance blurp suggested, the work seems to be about the internet, how it transcends global boundaries and affects how lives, personas are recorded and lived.

Perhaps this is what a multi-media performance, something which I imagine requires tremendous collaboration between the parties/techies involved, should be like. In the traditions of American visual artist Laurie Anderson, the mode of presentation connects with the subject matter, and us ‘digital immigrants’ or ‘digital natives’.

The impressive work puts together some of the most spectacular lighting sequences with LED lights, detailed mind-blowing HD projections on 6 screens (I think), live-action by performance artist Rizman Putra and electronic music to jolt brain waves. The memorable scene was the circular burst of LED lights, creating a ‘stop motion’ like strobe of the actor’s shadow. Perhaps choreographed with a particular narrative in mind, The audience shouldn’t have problem delving into their own experiences of the internet, to complement the artists’ impressions and screen grabs of teenage (angst) blogs. These revealed a particular psyche, which I felt like a trespasser. I did wonder if I belonged to the audience group the director had in mind, and if it was important at all that I felt this way.

On a really elemental level, the visual imagery was quite literal: running in the forest or beach to perhaps suggest freedom, the performer Rizman putting on different personal effects to suggests myriad of assumed identities on the internet.

The ending was perhaps too conclusive, and the soothing emotional live singing and acoustic guitar play, that suggested a sense of ‘loss’. It makes the work a lovely piece about ‘loss’ and ‘lament’, without touching on problems or solutions. The work is like an observation or survey, an artist’s insight into a particular phenomenon, nothing more. Like a visual poetry in motion through performance, projection lights and sound, the work has it’s beautiful moments, and instances of punctuation.

6 of 10 stars

Till Mar 31, Saturday. Tickets sold out for Friday Mar 30.

72-13, Theatreworks

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Imitative Polyphony: I Am Only Music by Jason Moss

imitable graffiti

Jason Moss

jason_moss.jpg

The tunnel is just filled with indescribable mess, unlike another portion of the work near the Library. It almost seems like a poor excuse for graffiti. The space is poorly dealt with, a suggestion that time and space was not on the artist’s side.

The space is lit in parts with coloured light, done by placing coloured gels over the flourescent tubes that line the wall, but doing little to transform the space. Most of the lines do not ‘jump out’, they clutter instead.

Jason Moss

Jason Moss

The upper floor mural is more desirable. Visible Picasso-like in it’s morph of figures playing instruments, it fits the title a lot better. In bright primary colours, they are like sharp polyphonic notes from a midi synthesizer. What is interesting about the latter mural, are tiny pockets or envelope that seem to suggest the possibility of interaction with the viewer: perhaps to slip in messages of that they ‘hear’ after seeing the work, translating a synaesthetic experience into words.

The work does have its interesting bits, which the viewer must ‘deconstruct’ and crop, preferably with loud music blasting in your earphones.

2 of 10 stars.

Till Apr 22

Tunnel and Community Wall

Esplanade

Maestros: Masters of Indian Classical Music by Raghu Rai

Portraits in Awe

Raghu Rai

The images of  Raghu can best be described as arresting, haunting, and captured on film. It is interesting and romantic to imagine the importance of using film for a subject matter like the Maestros of Indian Classical Music,  as opposed to MTV, digital media and digital manipulation. The manipulations here, are done in the darkroom by masterful cropping and dodging in black and white printing. The intentional grainy prints are a tell-tale sign of this. The compositions are well considered, exploring balance and contrast between the subject matter, and their surrounding. These portraits, quoted in the exhibition leaflet, are “not only India’s great classical musicians but also icons of music in the world”.

The weight of representing a fragment of world culture are perhaps best done in black and white photography, just as how Singaporean photographer Ken Cheong documented the dying trade of Chinese Opera in Singapore, in a photography exhibition in the same Jendela Visual Arts Space several years back.  But these photographs are not mere documentation of musicians, they seem to hold hopes, aspirations and much more.  The soul of music, perhaps?

The mood of each individual musician is caught and immortalized, but at the same time humanized in facial expression.

Without hearing and appreciating the music which spun these expressions, we are perhaps mere outsiders looking at a National Geographic endorsed photographer’s works. But after seeing these pictures, I am spurred to seek out the music.

5 of 10 stars.

Till April 8,

Jendela (Visual Arts Space)
Esplanade

Recollections of the Void by Pippa Killen

A wash in a void

Void XXV by Pippa Killen

This abstract painting exhibition features works by Pippa Killen. From a distance, the paintings look like a cross between paintings about window blinds, and stencil prints of tree bark. One may feel absolutely clueless when faced with subject matter-less paintings, titled in roman numbers such as “Void XXV” or “Void V”. The paintings are meditative and calming, and the scale well suited in many modest homes. These are like colour theory sanctified works – Blue – cool and receding, entry points into the picture-less unconscious, well camouflaged and protected.

Wall Text by Pippa Killen

The topic of ‘void’ and ‘emptiness’ is tricky to explain and understand in words. It comes as a ‘feeling’, an indiscernible loneliness or serenity, two sides of a coin. Through the works of American artist James Turrell, the lure of pure light comes close. In the form of installations, Thai artist Montien Boonma welcomes contemplation through herbal scent, and common objects, or the empty moulds used to cast Buddha sculptures. Here, Pippa  attempts to mimic the fabric of textiles, the simplicity of weaving brushstrokes on linen to create a cacophony of meditations, like rosary beads used in a prayer.

Another tack to appreciate the work is to consider the minute concept of ‘contrast’, seen between bands of colour, as they weave themselves horizontally and vertically (curiously never diagonally) subtly layered texture done by scratching and scraping with tools. Are the valleys created, or the whiteness un-painted the void?

The colours used here are deliberately muted, or washed out, appearing old if we compare these to the bright, stark palettes of Thomas Yeo in the exhibition before this. As a result, laments the caretaker of the gallery, the paintings look old and dreary. And she has witnessed contemporary art in the gallery space for the past 15 years or more, so I do give her some credit. Perhaps the dreariness is the result of a an asynchronous colour scheme in the entire exhibition.

While this review is neither positive or negative, just like Pippa’s paintings are not bad or exciting, I hope isn’t took boring to read.

2 of 10 stars

Till March 27

The Substation Gallery

On Art Critics

 QUOTE:

Critics

The art critics on some of Britain’s newspapers could as easily have been assigned gardening or travel, and been cheerfully employed for life. This is because many newspaper editors don’t themselves have much time to study their “Review” section, or have much interest in art. So we now enjoy the spectacle of critics swooning with delight about an artist’s work when its respectability has been confirmed by consensus and a top-drawer show – the same artist’s work that 10 years earlier they ignored or ridiculed. They must live in dread of some mean sod bringing out their old cuttings. And when Matthew Collings, pin-up boy of TV art commentary, states that the loss of contemporary art in the Momart fire didn’t matter all that much – “these young artists can always produce more”- he tells you all you need to know about the perverse nature of some of those who mug a living as art critics. However, when a critic knows what she or he is looking at and writes revealingly about it, it’s sublime.

text lifted from Art Newspaper’s Interview with Charles Saatchi,  less than 10% reproduced here  (accessed Mar 21) http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/charlesqa/qa.htm