Having used photography as my main medium for many years, I usually thought of art in visual terms. Most of my work consisted of hanging photographs on a wall. Even though I have had exhibitions where the display space was designed, the main purpose was still to display my still images.
It was only in 2014 with my first real installation piece, Stealing Breath, Stopping Time, as part of my Body of Work exhibition at the Ion Art Gallery that I began to see how powerfully installation work can be. In a darkened room with a three screen installation of solo dancers, the audience moves amongst the screens. I thought that allowing the audience to choose their own perspective was an interesting way to let the viewers see the video. However, a dance teacher said that she wished that she could bring her students into my installation and let them dance in the installation. And indeed I walked in once to find that people were singing and dancing in the installation. This immersive environment and its ability to activate the audience to participate was intoxicating. Stealing Breath, Stopping Time felt more powerful than all my images hanging in the gallery outside.
In 2015, for M1 Fringe Festival, Art and Loss, I created the installation
This was a contemplation of memory loss and dementia. A thousand iphone images suspended in a cloud that disappeared over twelve days. I thought of this visually seeing the ‘memories’ fading away, but what was intriguing was how the audience plunged into the installation to explore the installation and how they delighted in taking away an image. The power of the tactile interaction with the audience was something I began to appreciate.
So when I was invited by Alan Oei to create a work in the Substation box office, I worked with Lim Chin Huat to create a plant and video installation called Soil 泥土 (2017). My main subject of interest in my Master of Art (Fine Arts) course at LASALLE College of The Arts is how to create installations that engage the various sense perceptions of the audience. One of the works that I produced, Plastic Sea (2017), was visual, tactile, aural and even engaged the sense of smell.