Upon entering the gallery of part 3 & 4 of Time Present, a photograph of a woman standing in the shadow of a tree has this magnetic quality that grabbed my attention instantly. No effort is required on my part to tell myself that, this is distinctively Chinese.
The woman’s appearance is flawless and most presentable, from her hairdo to the dress and her complexion. I put on my melodrama thinking hat, imagining her waiting for the return of her air force pilot lover. And about her hand gesture, this sentence in a write-up by ArtMag by Deutsche Bank has summed it up perfectly for me: “Her arms are extended in a pose somewhere between resignation and anticipation”. The same write-up has more on the work, entitled Zero, and its artist, Zhu Jia.
Zero is a still shot taken from Zhu’s video art of the same title. Be it the video or the still image, Zero aims to point out that, today’s real world has been much virtualised. The outward self of an individual has never come to the fore so conspicuously like today, and isn’t it time to raise awareness of one’s inward self in this current world of everything around advancing at zooming speeds?
In another article by Iona Whittaker on the video, “…for these scenes are shallow, often frontal and not without vanity, pivoting around an attractive character and carefully crafted views of the sea, a stage or urban vista. The compulsion to continue looking at them seems to stem from this visual and temporal disjuncture, as the expectation of a culmination quickly evaporates.”, this explains my instant attraction to the photograph as soon as I have entered the gallery, and I can’t help looking at her continuously, as if waiting for her to carry on with her poem recital, cued by her hand gesture.
Just a few metres away, another photographic print pulls me out of my romantic daze. Rumour has it that, this is the most expensive piece of work in the entire Still Moving exhibition. I cannot decide whether to believe the rumour literally or figuratively, because it is a photograph of the Singapore Exchange during trading hours in the year 1997. Taken from some kind of “bird’s eye” view by Andreas Gursky, the photograph has frozen a bustling moment in the trading floor, for anyone who wishes to study the incomprehensible order among the chaos.
In the final league of Still Moving, we have Image & Illusion on level 4 of the building. We can view six video works created by artists during their residency programmes with the Yokohama Museum of Art. By the way, you can read earlier posts on Still Moving here, here and here.
My favourite in this section is Peter Coffins’s Untitled (Flying Fruits), and the reason for my choice can be felt by experiencing the work yourself. Call me an easily-contented person, there are not too many things happier than being hit by a free flow of colourful fruits rushing at you from the galaxy, inviting you to have a bite of each and every one of them!
Presented in their x-rayed forms, these fruits challenge our common perceptions and interpretations of fruits, suggesting our limited knowledge of the wider universe that we are unable to even imagine.
When we talk about video art, it’s not or no longer merely showing moving images through a screen. A work can comprise of several elements, such as products of an art-making process made into videos, and complete with sound/music. Yagi Lyota’s Portamento series is an example of such multi-faceted installations, it involves experiments of whether sound vibrations have any effect on pottery making and the products.
Other than a screen or a wall, videos may also be projected onto an acrylic tank filled with water and sand in the case of Tadasu Takamine’s Water Level and Organ Sound, integrating a video recording, which is a three-dimensional medium, with actual three-dimensional objects in the set-up of the artwork. Takamine’s works deal with the politics of sex, and this work produces a dilemma between eroticism and innocence.
With that, I wrap up my writings on Still Moving at Singapore Art Museum’s SAM@8Q building. The exhibition runs through 8th February 2015. Enjoy!