2012 Sep 15
The first live art session was great. The white paper space started to take on graphite marks and lines in a big way.
One of the things I had been uncertain about since Path. 1 developed from a drawing exhibition into a full fledged live art project has been the quality of the drawings themselves. I had mostly drawn to produce images under solitary conditions and recently performed it live on stage to sound and music. This shall be the first time I am drawing within a confined space with people moving around me as I try to capture with minimal strokes, the lines of their actions.
As the session unfolded and as I met and talked with visitors, I made very precious connections with them. Each visitor gave me time to talk about my story-the narrative behind the work and some started to break into their own stories of home and the city. A Japanese artist said that she sensed aggression in the act of throwing balls onto the drawings and went on to talk about change in Japanese society, an Indian man who had been in Singapore for a year marvelled at the city's orderliness as he spoke about how catching the morning bus in Mumbai is a big project. 2 arts students from Ngee Ann poly, volunteers for front of house that night at the theatre, were keen to learn about how we can view others using the multiple perspectives found in the cubist movement.
I sense at times, an apologetic attitude bordering at anxiety, about art's abstract nature. Does abstract expression mean lack of clarity? Or does it mean intellectual elitism? I prefer to think that each of us is abstract by nature but that a minority of these individual qualities became popular iconographies that are revered, identified and associated to oneself. These iconographies became a shorthand for identity. A body in motion, drawn with minimal lines is abstract precisely because they articulate obscure qualities of individuals, and doesn't belong to the category of popularly recognised iconography. That individuality is precious, even as they problematise reading at first glance. Give them time, draw near, and they will unfold.
2012 Sep 18
The Singapore Internationale Foundation brought a group of 8-10 visitors from Shanghai, China to the live art session. Right after an interesting chat with my gallery sitter about the gradual deterioration of our knowledge for our respective mother tongues, I had to then talk about the project in mandarin. I thought it went ok though I did start out by apologizing for my lack of proficiency in the language.
The visitors were comfortable with handling the graphite coated squash balls with their bare hands though I offered them the disposable gloves like how I do with every visitor. One lady in the group went on to tell me that there is a type of cotton ball in Shanghai that was lighter and could travel as well as the squash ball.
A young lady came for the live art session at 9pm just when the gallery was about to close. She said some very encouraging words about the work, particularly how she connected with it. She left saying that she might drop by again with her friends.
Back to aesthetics. I experimented with marker lines to add yet another layer to the drawings. It felt good. The figures have gotten even more abstract, almost non-human like yet I sensed a clarity in that expression as they communicate spatiality, identity and imagination all at the same time.
2012 Sep 19
More conversations. More drawings. There is a narrative unfolding albeit unexpectedly, from moving figures to static portraitures. I wonder how this visual story will progress as I proceed into the other end of the gallery.
More lines. Straight, angular, curved, jagged, swishing, hatched, quivering. More space covered and yet they grew at the same time. Is this the city crystalising? It was no doubt the city I felt as I moved around the group of children and NAFA students, negotiating my physical position relative to theirs within the gallery space, to draw their action onto paper. It was an odd dance performed by people who didn't know each other yet connected, even if temporarily, through drawing.
Father. Mother. Child. Friends. Acquaintances.
A friend who practises theatre told me that she always want to take something back with her after each artistic encounter. It set me thinking if I had set out to give anything at all. One way of looking at this is how the artist expands his social dimension as he works. So is this what the work is offering? A performance of the artist's internal process? What was it that happened when I drew a portrait? What did the subject see as lines unfold on paper, as he/she stood still watching a picture emerge? Where were they? Where was I in time and space, in relation to them?
A journalist said that I was attempting to build something; akin to architecture. It was the first time somebody saw the work that way but it rang true. I am building a home in the city and this is the path I choose to take.
2012 Sep 26
Path. 1 ends tomorrow.
Yesterday I attended an inspiring talk by founder of Openvizor, Abbas Nokhasteh. Many a times, he said, we started a project thinking that it was of a certain shape only to find out later that it wasn't so. We would then face a choice, to either force it into the shape we want or to let it take form naturally.
I started Path. 1 armed only with a vision of how it was going to be. Looking at the drawings and marks that filled up the gallery walls today, it occurred to me that there was no way I could had imagined this coming. I had in my mind certain sensibilities that I would like to employ for the project. Little did I expect that the project transformed my sensibilities instead. Not only had Path. 1 given me a chance to mentally create new memories in the city but it had also literally 'transformed' my body by affecting my drawing stroke, an effect of the numerous live art sessions and interaction with the gallery architecture.
Is this what a place does to a living body? That as I transform a location to make a place, I am simultaneously being transformed at the same time?
Part of my research has been the dimensions available to drawing. I am curious about its possibilities; its intent, outcome, duration, location, moment, event, architecture, sound, rhythm, sequence, function, social character; the list is endless. Path looks into drawing as a mean to map the metropolis through making memories at different locations, using various channels of interaction with visitors-the artist's live presence, the graphite projectiles, conversations and portrait drawings. One of my interest is in looking at how despite drawing's cartesian 2 dimensionality, it can possibly exist in 3 dimensional time and space as sets of powerful events. To do this, I will have 'pull' the drawings out of the reality of the paper plane into the gallery itself. They have to spatially function and resist getting approached as image-realities.
2012 Sep 27
Tonight marked the end of Path. 1 at The Substation. It has been an emotionally charged process and I am very thankful for the opportunity to artistically uncover a very deep part of myself. I wish to thank everybody who had, in some way or another, accompanied me along this trek to connect better with the metropolis.