Memory Portals: The process behind the work

Memory Portals: The process behind the work

Until this year, I’ve never had a work on the banks of the Singapore River. So when Asian Civilisations Museum approached me with the chance to produce an installation on the riverside, I wanted to make something bright and beautiful, like a doorway in the distance. There was all this imagery I could draw on from the dataset of Here the River Lies. In April 2021 I had sorted through all the material for the Wikicliki exhibition.

The makeshift sorting station inside the Ngee Ann Kongsi Basement gallery

I was dividing up the stories into ones which were debatably fictive and those which were earnest and there seemed to be many interesting visuals that could be developed from the stories alone. So I thought of drawing something…

The form of Memory Portals takes inspiration from an item in ACM’s collection, a table screen in read which is a bit like an ancient desktop screen with a wallpaper on it…

A red lacquered table screen that’s on display somewhere upstairs in the galleries….

It depicted many different stories along a river…

I decided that an interesting technique for producing this work would be to use these different laser cut acrylic pieces which could be layered to form different colour effects. I particularly liked the “luminous green” material which particularly glowed along the edge (although it was functionally yellow).

You can see the luminous green material on top of the standard yellow here. I made a list of elements to illustrate into each doorway (originally I had thought the work would comprise 3 doorways but eventually due to contraints we only made 2) and then I drew them in Procreate.

The hard part next was to seperate the layers logically. I did this mainly in illustrator and i needed to check it many times to make sure I didn’t get confused on how the colours would be multiplied. When it was being pieced together it was also quite confusing. The point is that when all 3 colours are multiplied it forms ‘black’.

Here are some of the sketches I made to convey the design idea to the contractors who helped build it.

Some installation shots of the work being installed on site on the ACM green.

From an angle you can see the luminousity of the material even in the daytime without the work being lighted. Which is the desired effect indeed!

One of the rubber rollers on my cricut MELTED IN THE HEAT (thanks Singapore weather) so I was reduced to somehow cutting it by hand but I think the handcut NO TOUCHING NO STEPPING sign added quite an artisanal touch. Nevertheless, everytime I went to see the work, it was always covered in baby handprints. Lots of toddlers and babies definitely had a go on it, possibly due to its inviting height. But of course, we did not want people to intentionally headbutt it or worse even climb it and get themselves hurt.

Approval from the Bean
A visit from the Dingmother
In different lighting conditions
During the blue hour