The Asian Art Institutum (AAI) and Gasworks London are proud to present Open to Interpretation, a series of five short videos by five artists based in Singapore.
We live in a time when social media cannot be denied. Its ubiquitous influence is shaping everything around us from fashion to food and politics.
There is no greater platform, today, for a single person to reach millions of people anywhere in the world. A whisper can be amplified to a roar audible in every corner of the world. A simple idea can develop and be realized at the other end of the world. This is the power of social media and whoever knows how to harness its power understands the world we live in.
Conceived by AAI director, Tan Boon Hui, Open to Interpretation invited artists to explore the realm of social media via YouTube videos and experiment with its potential for amplification of artistic ideas and capturing the zeitgeist.
The AAI is proud to partner with Gasworks London for this project with the curatorial participation of Wells Frey-Smith, Assistant Curator: Special Projects at the Whitechapel Gallery, London.
Boedi Widjaja, A tree rings, a tree sings, Single Channel Video, 00:20:00.
New findings in epigenetics suggest that we inherit ancestral memories. Could we then possibly inherit images and sounds—audiovisual signals—through DNA transmissions? In 2012, I returned to my grandfather’s hometown. Travel photos shot with my phone were subsequently re-imaged (re-imagined?) by inverting camera lenses. The soundtrack is the sonification of a hybrid DNA; genetic code—music score—of my Y-chromosome, the Chinese parasol tree (or wu tong, my grandfather’s namesake), and an encoded text. The video is generative in the tradition of Eno’s ambient music. An algorithmic composition that plays different every time, and (almost) infinitely. This 19-min slice was recorded at my computer in Jan 2021.
Boedi Widjaja, (b.1975, Solo City, Indonesia) migrated to Singapore at the age of 9 due to ethnic tensions, separated from his parents. His practice draws on his own transmigrant lived experiences, researching diaspora and homelands; Indo-Asia-Pacific geopolitics; and cross-cultural hybridities. Trained as an architect and with a background in graphic design, the techniques, materials and tools of drawing have become a defining element of Widjaja’s artistic practice. This is expressed through a broad range of media, from photography and new media to architectural installations and Live Art, with an emphasis on process and bodily engagement.
Dr. Yanyun Chen, Hindsight is 20/20, Single Channel Video, 00:02:27.
How does one begin to describe the inane restlessness and psychic volatility, without recourse, which was 2020? What constitutes creative production and privilege in a time when the stage is shut, and society has deemed art as no.1 non-essential during a pandemic in Singapore? What are artists to do when they are just not needed? With hindsight, visual artist Yanyun Chen and singer-songwriter Chia Yaim Chong offer a glimpse of a Singaporean artist’s life under lockdown, in the only way they know how: a new work.
Dr. Yanyun Chen (b.1986, Singapore) is a visual artist, known for her charcoal drawings, animations and installations practice, and her works delve into the aesthetic, cultural and technological inheritances on one’s body, unravelling fictional and philosophical notions of embodiment. She researches cultural wounds, dowry traditions, hereditary scars, philosophies of nudities, and etymology. Chen graduated from the European Graduate School Philosophy, Art, and Critical Thought PhD programme in 2018, the Communications MA programme in 2014, and Nanyang Technological University School of Art Design and Media Digital Animation programme in 2009. She is the Arts Practice Coordinator for the Humanities division of Yale-NUS College in Singapore.
Hilmi Johandi, Two minutes of island paradise (Sun set to rise) n.2, Single Channel Video, 00:02:15.
Using printouts to create stop motion animation, this work is a composition of images borrowed from tourist advertisements and travel documentary clips produced in the past. Footages are dissected into frames and superimposed into a piece to create a visual experience that highlights the constructed-ness of its representation. Hilmi Johandi works primarily with painting and explores interventions with various media to pursue ideas of image-making. As he often borrows images from archival footages and photographs, beyond the reflection of nostalgia in Hilmi’s work, is a subtle portrayal of a society that encourages the viewer to reflect on existing historical narratives
Primarily a painter, Hilmi's recent exploration has expanded to include various media. His works are often set in the context of Singapore, where he is based, and he re-composes images from film, archival footages, and photographs into fragmented montages that hint at the social effects of rapid development. Hilmi's interest in film and the local history of Singapore has been a constant in his practice.
Rizman Putra, Smearing Impulsion, Single Channel Video, 00:04:29.
Smearing Impulsion is a performative drawing presentation that was pre-recorded within a span of 3 days. Specifically focusing on the notion of immediacy and ephemerality, connecting related themes that surround motion and time, body and energy, light and space, imagined and observed, demonstrating how drawing can function as a performative device.
Rizman Putra graduated with Master of Arts (Fine Arts) from Lasalle College of the Arts in 2007. He is the winner of the 2005 Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry Singapore Foundation Arts Award, a co-founder of the now dissolved art collective Kill Your Television, as well as the founder of the electronic outfit NADA. He is currently an Associate Artist with Cake Theatrical Productions.
Robert Zhao, And A Great Sign Appeared, Single Channel Video, 00:04:52.
On Dec 22, 2019, thousands of birds appeared in front of my home, darkening the sky and covering the open field next to a construction site. They were Asian openbill storks, birds foreign to Singapore and which have travelled a long way to be here. Their appearance was a great sign, but what of, to this day, I’m not sure.
Robert Zhao (b. 1982, Singapore) is a multi-disciplinary artist who blends reality and fiction in his works. Strongly informed by his observations and ongoing research into the natural world, Zhao adopts a practice that investigates and unravels the intertwining relationship between humans and their habitats. He lives and works in Singapore.