This project tries to appropriate the Chinese handscroll painting as a medium to present a commentary on Singaporean urban dwellers’ view towards nature.
We researched and visited various nature reserves in Singapore as we felt that they are a response to the urban dwellers’s desire to return to nature. What we found out is that much of these nature reserves have been reconstructed by human hands. Tracks are piled with rocks and soil so they are easily walked, washrooms are built within reach, maps and signages are installed everywhere. These nature reserves are a form of nature that has been made consumable for the urban dwellers yet still maintained so that it is immersive, much like the Song dynasty handscrolls that could be rolled and unrolled to allow its viewer to travel through vast panoramas of mountains.
Our handscroll is a collage of photographs from various nature reserves, composed together to form a poetic vision of nature. We encoded the musical notes from the score of Singapore’s national anthem, Majulah Singapura (Onward Singapore), into the peaks and crescendo of the panoramic composition. The song thus becomes a symbol of the hopes and dreams of national progress that has eradicated much of Singapore’s natural landscapes, that ironically left us with a dream of the wild. We would like to invite the viewer to unravel the scroll and travel through misty forests that rise and fall, mapping out visually the song that is so familiar to them. As the scroll progresses to the right man made elements such as buildings and skyscrapers started sprouting up in the background, hinting the possibility of more of these buildings to take over the forests. At the end of the viewing the scroll is once again rolled up and the lush green backing encases the narrative back into its thick foliage.