Singapore Speaks Monochrome

Singapore is a work in progress, and the physical landscape never fails to remind you of this.

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There could be cranes in the sky in built-up areas, and there could be views like the one below.

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Occasionally, it gets a bit postmodern, like this:

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The inside wants to be outside.

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Our desires/appetites/wants/needs are very well structured and catered to.

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Everything is for sale.

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Cities are places where appetites are met.

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Appetites transcend national boundaries …

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Pig organ soup, anyone? It’s actually quite yummy.

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Buildings are structures of desires.

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There’s ambition in the architecture.

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These are homely desires.

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There’s an architecture of modernity.

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An architecture of nationhood.

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And space in which we simply do nothing at all.

Thanks for reading!


Open-edition prints are available at my Saatchi Art page.






Noah’s Ark in Hong Kong

I am a creature of habit, of the Homer-Simpson-couch-potato-beer-belly-belching variety.

So when my wife announced we’re spending a night in Noah’s Ark, part of me wanted to resist, though curiosity (plus the fact that I’ve basically [and wisely!] outsourced my recreational and social life to my better half) took over.

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It’s a theme park mostly for children (I have 2!) with parents attached.

It’s located in Ma Wan, an island cum residential estate with a policy of banning entry to private vehicles.

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We did a night’s stay literally on the third floor of Noah’s Ark, and got bumped up to a eight-bedded suite.

Sadly, though, you can’t find a bar in Noah’s Ark…

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It’s a rather postmodern experience, as it’s a biblical-themed park and complex concocted out of secular/capitalist/entertainment motivations by the Sun Hung Kai property conglomerate. It requires a bit of roller-coaster thinking.

As a Christian of the church-going, serious-bible-study-home-group-acoustic-guitar-worship variety cum literature-professor-and-poet-who-has-read-his-Derrida type of person, I was rather intrigued.

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So was my street photographer persona, who wisely decided to rely on a Canon G11 to do the job of taking family snapshots as well as street photography.

Yes, there’re still people out there proudly carrying their G11’s, evidence of the longevity of what is now a classic camera. (I’ve seen G9’s, 10’s and 11’s for sale at vintage camera shops.) I know someone who still carries a G9.

Back to the main story.

The above was in an educational exhibit room for kids teaching them about geology. I do like the religious motif with the light shining down and the person in front whose head is bowed in devotion…

Free souvenir photos! Check out the psychedelic set-up, to remind us of God’s cosmological creations, I’m sure.

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There were various events, including this 35-minute tour of religious exhibits and replicas.

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This guy playing Moses jumped right into our midst.

He spent the next 20 minutes telling us of the Ten Commandments and of how Hong Kong has strayed somewhat from the biblical plot.

It was amusing to see Moses code-switching between Cantonese and English. (Note to self: I must remember to tell my Applied English Linguistics colleagues of this.)

As a Christian of the church-going, serious-bible-study-home-group-acoustic-guitar-worship variety cum literature-professor-and-poet-who-has-read-his-Derrida type of person, I was rather intrigued.

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Someone has put serious effort into reproducing replicas of the tabernacle as well as the Dead Sea scrolls.

There were authentic illustrated Victorian bibles plus various other stuff on display. This really appeals to the literature nerd in me.

We were told the exhibits were rotated regularly.

Check out the life-sized 3D replica of the Last Supper.

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The animals coming out of the Ark after the Flood.

As a Christian of the church-going, serious-bible-study-home-group-acoustic-guitar-worship variety cum literature-professor-who-has-read-his-Derrida type of person, I was seriously intrigued.

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After the end of 40 days and nights of flooding and another 150 days for the waters to subside, a giraffe sniffs the air tentatively, with the Tsing Ma bridge in the background.

Very postmodern.

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Very postmodern white tigers emerging from their stay in Noah’s Ark, set against the Tsing Ma bridge …

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I felt a need to get out of the theme park after a while.

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Though in honesty, there’s no getting out of the giant theme park known as Hong Kong.

Nonetheless, I do appreciate honest-to-goodness aesthetics. Someone has done a bit of landscaping for this village house nearby.

Thanks for reading!

Ode to Retail

I don’t usually do color photography as I find it hard to “coordinate” the colors alongside the action in the frame. But the environment in this case seems to call out for it.

This was the beginning of a trip to Festival Walk, a shopping mall. My son wanted to pick up a few books at Page One. We sat at the front of a mini-bus.

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For those not familiar with Hong Kong: Festival Walk is a gigantic shopping mall with a skating rink and cinema. I often got lost the first few times I was here.

There are so many escalators and reflective surfaces. There is a fun house mirror effect every time we are on the escalators:

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We forget which way is up and which way is down…

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I think this is the point, that the design of malls are slightly disorienting so that the shopping experience feels slightly unreal. Our ability at making rational choices are somewhat incapacitated – we lose track of time and spend more than we had originally intended.

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I am reminded of a hotel called “Lotus Casino” in The Titan’s Curse, a novel in the Percy Jackson series, in which the characters were trapped. They were reluctant to leave the hotel because it was so fun. (The environment of casinos, of course, are meant to be unreal so that the chips [money] you’re losing look inconsequential anyway because you are just playing a game of Monopoly.) I’m thinking of those casinos in Macau now, especially the Greek Mythology Casino, complete with a gigantic statue of Zeus…

Here, the literary scholar in me is reminded of Fredric Jameson’s discussion of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, about how the postmodern architecture is tied in with the (totalitarian?) logic of late capitalism.

It’s so easy in the mall. We look and point and buy:

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Everything is on show and so very photogenic, and the unreal becomes part of the experienced reality we consume and hence take for real:

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I almost forgot to leave.