Monthly Archives: March 2010

‘Polychord’ by Ian Woo

“A polychord struck between the heavenlies and the meaning of your existence’ (full title)

The artist explains: “The ‘polychord’ is a shell-like geometric structure that takes its pattern from the irregular steps of the Esplanade concourse. This white, pleat-like structure is hollow, and is inspired by juxtaposed relation between the horizontal Concourse steps and the vertical mirrors rising vertically upward. It is a puzzle reminiscent of a structure of two opposing sounds coming together, an idea that comes from the musical term ‘polychord’.”

The work reminds one of giant chopsticks, arranged like pleats on an elaborate skirt, or the bellows of a folding camera. Held in stasis, suspended in mid-air, they look like vector clouds or a badly formed bird, waiting to form or take flight. The ‘white planks’ curl like a sushi mat, lit unevenly by warm spot lights. One might have liked deep, coloured lights to go with the idea of dark, tasteful harmony like those in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, Point of No Return. One might have desired for a larger rendition, if not thunderous rectangular cuboids descending from the ceiling such that they dwarf the human scale, to be truly ‘heavenly’.

Unlike his earlier paintings or drawings, this large scale sculptural installation reacts to its immediate surrounding – the concourse steps. This work in comparison has less frenzy of activity, and appears a lot calmer, losing some of its chaotic-ordered-aesthetic appeal. A polychord dwarfed by the physical space, some amplification might have benefited the work, tossing one’s sense of balance like Escher’s impossible steps brought to life.

Esplanade Concourse

12 MAR 2010, FRI –
4 APR 2010, SUN

Grieve Perspective

digital black humour meets age old memento mori

Grieve Perspective is the inaugural exhibition by new artist collective of the same name that blends black humour, digital 3D objects and composite videos on the theme surrounding mortality, shopping, corporate jungles and virtualisation. Set in the ground floor of residential shophouse at Niven Road, seen collectively the works open up conversations and contemplation over one’s addictions (to shopping) survival and existence in the physical and virtual worlds.

The theme of mortality stems strongly in two works: Ember (2010, composite video 4 mins) , Tomorrow is a Million Years (2010, composite video 4 mins). Ember features a young man staring at a green glow floating at eye level. He seems neither surprised or afraid, and simply watches it, as if his existence depended on it. Some will recall that the green glow resembles computer game-like references to ‘life force’ or ‘the spirit’. Tomorrow is a Million Years by contrast, shows a skull with wild flowers for a headdress, and subtitles that seem to count down or up, in latin words/numbers. The skull, an object featured in countless paintings as the obvious reminder of death, and the fragility of life. The counting is hynoptic, ironic when it transforms seconds into years, into millennia, forgetting the real trickles of time.

In a similar vein, Re-think (2010) hypothesizes a meteorite smashing into Goldsmiths College’s Ben Pimlott Building, in Maurizio Cattelan fashion. The 3D graphics re-creation is stunningly realistic. A homage or haemorrhage, it ironically presents the critical legacy of Goldsmiths College art: conceptual, precise and attention grabbing.

The triptych digital prints seem to be a social commentary on shopping, or the passage of growing up with shopping. The people are featured on wooden bases, rendering them as trophy like objects, moments in one’s life waiting to be bagged and collected.

‘Giu la Testa‘, may be alluding to the corporate jungle, when a man climbs out of a square hole, and is visibly surprised by the whiteness/emptiness or purity of the ‘upper level’. He looks around bewildered and climbs back in. Accompanied by what seems to be human-like imitation of animals in the jungle, it suggests our discomfort with ’emptiness’ or the metaphor of too much time, preferring to slug it out in the square manhole.

‘The Life I live …” reminds one of the hit anime Summer Wars (2009) directed by Mamoru Hasoda. The avatar here, is more life-like and less manga representative. A young lady with a robotic voice repeats her cryptic movie-like dialogue, with a floating crown above her head. It possibly represents what Second Life, an online 3D virtual world wants — superbly realistic graphics and possibly human-like artificial intelligent computer avatars.

The exhibition came across as being heavy, or sombre. The lighter side of life seemed only possible if we treat the social comments as black humour. Encapsulated as composite videos, they bring new possibilities to static paintings that once bore the responsibility of reminding human beings religiously of their place in time. While the place of paintings isn’t just about to be buried, cremated or displaced, one begins to wonder if the exhibition would benefit from a virtual exhibition space, rather than a physical one.

See more info, videos/images here:

Exhibition on from 20.03.2010 to 28.03.10, daily: 1 – 6pm.