Singapore-based experimental band The Observatory presents REFUSE, an inter-media exhibition about music, mushrooms and de-composition. The exhibition combines mycology design (Bewilder), scenography installation (Sai aka Chen Sai Hua Kuan), archive arrangement (Ujikaji), moving image (Yeo Siew Hua) and guest curation (Tang Fu Kuen). REFUSE draws on the band’s past and present influences, bringing together their interests in fungi and mycelial networks to explore the twin ideas of decomposition and composition from biological and musical perspectives. The presentation comprises a time-based installation space and archive, and speaks to The Observatory’s constantly evolving methodologies, the communities that surround them, as well as their important place in the Singapore music scene.
About the Artist
The Observatory - far from silent and objective as its name suggests - is a band whose music and cultural ethos is to respond and speak back to the contemporary afflictions in Singapore and the global milieu. Its current constellation comprises multi-instrumentalists Cheryl Ong, Dharma and Yuen Chee Wai who tread on improvisation, inter-media experimentation and noise-adjacent territories. In confronting new forms of disorders, The Observatory restlessly turns upon itself to agitate, to comfort and to resist.
Drawing on old and new lexicons, The Observatory seeks to bridge artists and expressions. Two decades on, the band’s polymath practice encompasses music and performance; in-person festivals and online radio shows; touring gigs and interdisciplinary exhibitions.
REFUSE, The Observatory (2021); image courtesy of the Artist.
To mark their 20 years of experimentations, Singapore-based band The Observatory have teamed up with an unlikely collaborator – fungi – for the exhibition REFUSE. They share how the partnership mushroomed at the Singapore Art Museum’s new location at Tanjong Pagar Distripark, and what creating music in natural phenomena speaks of the band’s past, present and future.
Click to read Can You Hear the Fungi Sing? on our blog now.
Tune in to this special episode of BlackKaji Radio as Singapore-based experimental band The Observatory discusses their two-decade-long history—from their “family tree” of band members and their ever-evolving sound to stories of their numerous tours and the events they organised—with Ujikaji and SAM’s curators. The podcast extends conversations surrounding the presentation of the band’s archives at REFUSE, an inter-media exhibition about music, mushrooms and de-composition presented by The Observatory.