Two Artworks By Gen.T Honourees Speak Cryptic And Robert Zhao On Display For Singapore Bicentennial
This bicentennial year has seen a multitude of tributes to the nation through a variety of platforms. And in the spirit of bringing the arts to our heartlands and public spaces, the Public Art Trust (PAC), an initiative by the National Arts Council (NAC), has commissioned three artists to create public artworks that commemorate this key milestone in Singapore's rich and storied history.
Crossing Shores by Speak Cryptic
Many might recognise his signature illustrative style as visual artist Farizwan Fajari's (otherwise known by his professional moniker, Speak Cryptic) work stands tall at 4 metres high. Set against the backdrop of the sea at East Coast Park, the sculpture explores the theme of migration—a crucial aspect in Singapore's history—and pays tribute to the unique racial and social fabric of the country.
Designed to show an amalgamation of individuals who make up the fabric of Singapore society, Speak Cryptic invites audiences to stand amongst the faces, to be reminded of how it takes a nation of diverse individuals from different lands to build a home.
To further the narrative of national identity, perhaps it also serves as a point of reflection and louder call for strong social integration in contemporary times, too.
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The Time Tree by Robert Zhao
Inspired the sheer size and age of the Changi Tree, multi-disciplinary artist Robert Zhao has created a reimagined version of it presented in two parts, that acknowledges Singapore's pre-modern history that goes beyond the colonial era as well. As the tree once stood tall at 76.2 metres high, it was historically known to have been cut down by British forces, in fear of it serving as a ranging point for enemy troops during World War II. It was then recorded in February 1942 by Humphrey Morrison Burkill when he was taken as a prisoner of war that the last tree was destroyed due to an explosive that went off, ten feet above the ground.
Zhao's installation, that showcases a cross-section and upright tree stump, is currently located at Fort Canning Park from now till the end of September, and will subsequently move on to be showcased at Jurong Lake Gardens from October to December 2019, and Raffles Place Central Square from January to March 2020. At night, The Time Tree illuminates from within the gaps and cracks to give audiences a sense of mystery and ambiguity.
For the uninitiated, the installation is a product of highly technological 3D printing and furniture making techniques from the past.
While the use of 3D printing ushers in new possibilities of what art can come to be in the future, adopting the use of traditional furniture making methods offers a balanced collaboration of both old and new techniques. For Zhao, he made use of a fibreglass mould that has not been utilised since ten years ago to recreate the texture of the tree's bark, a technique that was used often only in the past.
Besides, it resonates with the notion of harmonious existence between new-age technology and the preservation of older traditions—a topic that is relevant now more than ever, against the current landscape of digital transformation and innovation.
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