Nov 17, 2017 - Mar 25, 2018

Cinerama: Art and the Moving Image in Southeast Asia

Singapore Art Museum

Experience the shifting boundaries between moving image, film and art through the works of artists across Asia.

Delve into notions of memory, identity and politics through moving image works by ten artists and collectives from across Southeast Asia. Spanning hand-drawn animation to immersive video installations, the works explore the history of the genre, its current-day expressions, and potential for the future.

oomleo | Maze Out (2017)
In a pixel art world peopled with characters inspired by the artist’s friends as well as certain observable stereotypes in Indonesian society, 'Maze Out' depicts the inter-connectivity of society and the cogs of the economy. At times, the darker side of these networks and the economy is suggested when we witness the human ‘rage against the machine’, or when a fast-moving conveyor belt swallows up a worker. 

The artist extends the experience of the work with a sticker installation.

Victor Balanon | The Man Who (2017)
This single-channel video explores the inter-relationships and cross-referenciality of film and cinema, alongside art movements like Expressionism, Surrealism, Futurism and Cubism. An experimental narrative short feature, the project is also a tribute to the nameless studio workers who operate behind the camera.

Expanding beyond the projection screen, the work jumps frame to occupy the gallery walls as a site-specific painting.

Paying homage to the silent movie era and the iconic works of early cinematic innovators, the video playfully combines various in-camera animation techniques, ranging from stop-motion, to time-lapse and hyperlapse, as well as live, staged footages and text frames and intertitles.

Tromarama | Zsa Zsa Zsu (2007)
'Zsa Zsa Zsu' is a music video produced for the Bandung-based music band, Rock N’ Roll Mafia (RNRM). The title of the song is a phrase used to describe the electric connection and chemistry experienced when meeting a new love interest, and narrates the anticipation and longing of infatuation, from both the male and female perspective.

The content of the video is made entirely out of buttons and beads. This combination of a deliberate low-tech technique and choice of everyday materials is characteristic of Tromarama’s unique artistic style, and contrasts greatly with many mainstream music videos, which rely on the use of special effects and heavy editing in order to achieve slick production values and a polished end product in order to appeal to viewers.

The use of buttons and beads pays tribute to the artists’ hometown of Bandung – known as a centre for garment manufacturing – and results in images that seem blurred and pixelated, reminiscent of the days when technology and mass media were not so developed yet, creating a nostalgic and ‘indie’ feel.

Jeremy Sharma | A White, White Day (2017)
Jeremy Sharma interrogates the notions of representation and form by deconstructing the filmic image, breaking it down into its component phenomena of light, shadow and sound. An installation of lightboxes appropriates the appearance and function of a cinema screen, transforming the space of the gallery into an atmospheric rendition of the movie theatre.

The LED nodes in the lightboxes are controlled by a programme that is based on video data taken from an old Cathay Keris production, 'Korban Fitnah' (1959), a film chiefly remembered today for its depiction of a Singaporean landscape with architectural icons that no longer exist. In doing so, the work presents the dissolution of the cinematic image, not unlike the contingent character of memory and history.

The Propeller Group | AK-47 vs. M16 (2015)
On first viewing, 'AK-47 vs. M16' offers an interpretation of war as signified by two bullets – and representative of two conflicting ideologies – colliding into and against each other. As the bullets enter the block, the ballistics gel – meant to simulate the consistency of human flesh – flails and recoils on its perch. Devoid of flesh-tones, the translucent ballistics gel, captured violently reverberating in the video, feels theatrical, almost like a tango moving through water. Yet in tandem, the ballistics block of 'AK-47 vs. M16' – housed in its pristine vitrine – presents an image of violence frozen, and entrapped as a clinical and futuristic exhibit.
The Propeller Group | AK-47 vs. M16, The Film (2016)
Slicing and splicing together scenes from Hollywood films, documentaries, news reports, and found footage from the Internet, this feature-length film is edited to intensify the ‘movie star status’ of the Soviet-made AK-47 and the American M16, to explore the influence these ubiquitous instruments of warfare have had on popular culture, and indeed the imaging of conflicting ideologies during the Cold War. Composed this way, 'AK-47 vs. M16, The Film' raises questions about the aesthetics of violence and the violence of aesthetics.
Sarah Choo Jing | Wear You All Night (2017)
This work evokes various forms of contemporary visual culture. Like a commercial for luxury merchandise, it is replete with signifiers of conspicuous consumption. 

Simultaneously, its oblique narrative of romantic estrangement – the male and female protagonists occupy the same narrative space, but are trapped within separate camera frames – is drawn from cinematic conventions, suggesting, for instance, the lovelorn characters and claustrophobic ambience typical of a Wong Kar Wai film.

Interrupting this insular world, however, is a soundtrack derived from war zones, the strident noise of gunfire and artillery magnifying the emotional textures of the narrative to melodramatic proportions. The heightened, almost exaggerated nature of the audiovisual experience here serves to send up the artifice of the language of contemporary mass media.

Ming Wong | Making Chinatown (2012)
This work is Ming Wong’s response to the cinematic quality of the city’s neighbourhoods, and a reinterpretation of Roman Polanski’s classic 1974 film, ‘Chinatown’. Wong plays all the iconic characters from the original film, and re-enacts key scenes from ‘Chinatown’ against backdrops printed with stills from the film.

The resulting videos are in turn projected onto the wooden screens they were filmed against, while the gallery is transformed into an immersive space resembling a studio backlot, emphasising its makeshift and malleable quality, and the artifice of cinematic production.

Through the deconstruction of elements that lie behind the ‘making of’a film, Wong disassembles constructions of identity, gender and location through his fluid inhabiting of multiple character roles, and his reinterpretation of a film noir classic.

Hayati Mokhtar | Falim House: Observations (2013 - 2016)
This ten-channel video captures a series of ever-so-slight stirs and shifts that suggest to the viewer that these tableaus are, in fact, animated. These forlorn fragments document the interior and surroundings of the titular mansion, located in Ipoh – Falim House, built by Foo Nyit Tse, one of the wealthiest tin tycoons in Malaya in the early twentieth century. Today, it lies in a state of suggestive ruin, the Foo family having left most of their belongings behind, including furniture, antiques and personal letters.
Amy Lee Sanford | Scanning (2013)
In Scanning, Cambodian-born Amy Lee Sanford continues her investigation into notions of memory through the manipulation and re-presenting of a selection of some 250 found letters. The correspondence, which took place over a period of five years, was an exchange between her adopted mother in the United States, and biological father who remained in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, during the civil war of 1970–1975 under Lon Nol's reign, followed by the Khmer Rouge occupation in 1975.

Unfolding in a measured and unhurried fashion; the repetition of placing, flipping and scanning of the sheets of onion-skin thin papered letters bears a ceremonious, significantly cathartic quality – as though the mundanity of photocopying the undecipherable scrawls carries the act of re-acknowledging, re-recording, and archiving. It suggests an almost forensic activity that enacts a means of remembering – or not losing of data, as well as
“memories” exchanged and carried – between Sanford’s parents.

Korakrit Arunanondchai / Alex Gvojic 
There's a word I'm trying to remember, for a feeling I'm about to have (a distracted path towards extinction) (2016 - 2017)

Centred on two key events: humanity’s future extinction Korakrit’s brother’s recent wedding. The artists weave
threads that draw comparisons between present of living and the eventual collapse of humanity’s systems.

Scene changes hover between post-apocalyptic landscapes and clips akin to home videos and music videos, connecting Korakrit’s imagined future of the planet with his own life events.

Presented in a detailed installation that seems to extend out from his filmic world, the work further blurs the line between what is presented within the screen and in the space – further conflating the distinctions between real life and simulation.

Credits: Story


'Maze Out'
Single-channel video (GIF animation) with sticker installation
Dimensions variable; duration 3:45 mins
Collection of the Artist
Commissioned by Singapore Art Museum

Victor Balanon
'The Man Who'
Single-channel black and white video projection with sound and site-specific wall painting
Dimensions variable; video duration 7:00 mins
Collection of the Artist
Commissioned by Singapore Art Museum

'Zsa Zsa Zsu'
Stop-motion animation, edition 3/5
Duration 4:42 mins
Singapore Art Museum collection

Jeremy Sharma
'A White, White Day'
Lightbox system mounted on a metal rack and horn speakers
200 × 240 × 40 cm
Collection of the Artist

The Propeller Group
'AK-47 vs. M16'
Fragments of AK-47 and M16 bullets, ballistics gel, glass and metal vitrine and single-channel video
Various dimensions: 139.7 × 62.9 × 32.4 cm (vitrine);
18.1 × 42.9 × 18.4 cm (ballistics gel); video duration 2:48 mins
Singapore Art Museum collection

The Propeller Group
'AK-47 vs. M16, The Film'
Single-channel video with sound
Duration 41:08 mins
Courtesy of The Propeller Group

Sarah Choo Jing
'Wear You All Night'
Two-channel video with sound
Duration 4:38 mins
Collection of the Artist

Ming Wong
'Making Chinatown'
Mixed-media installation featuring a five-channel video
Dimensions variable
Collection of the Artist

Hayati Mokhtar
'Falim House: Observations'
Ten-channel video with sound
Duration 16:04 mins
Singapore Art Museum collection

Amy Lee Sanford
Single-channel video
Duration 41:56 mins
Singapore Art Museum collection

Korakrit Arunanondchai / Alex Gvojic
'There’s a word I’m trying to remember, for a feeling I’m about to have
(a distracted path towards extinction)'
Mixed media installation with single-channel video, earth, found objects and bleached black denim pillows
Site-specific installation, dimensions variable, video duration 26:25 mins
Collection of the Artists

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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