Walking in the City ft. Artworks by Heman Chong
About the Exhibition
While it undergoes its first major building redevelopment since its official opening in 1996, Singapore Art Museum will continue to feature contemporary artworks by turning the buildings’ perimeter hoardings into a public showcase of commissioned works by local artists. The Walking in the City series will engage with themes such as history (of both the building and the island), society, urban development, and the environment.
About the Artworks
This edition features two artworks by Heman Chong: Writing While Walking And Other Stories (2020) and Safe Entry (2020).
Writing While Walking And Other Stories (pictured above) comprises 2,581 words written by artist Heman Chong on his iPhone 11 during an eight-hour meander around Singapore. Chong had no predefined route, time limit or destination in mind; he simply left his home and walked until he was completely exhausted, before taking a Grab ride home. The artist explores a new method of artistic production by compressing walking and writing into one process.
Like the walk, the text was written with no structure, plot, context or word limit in mind, and was deemed complete when the artist entered a state of wordlessness. The absence of punctuation or capitalisation is deliberate—it creates a sense of breathlessness as the viewer attempts to read it, recalling the physical exertion of walking in Singapore’s tropical and humid climate. Each frame is presented in a staggered tile pattern across the hoarding and appears to become animated as the viewer traverses the length of the image, lending the work a filmic quality and sense of the infinite.
To see the full artwork text in detail, please click here.
Commissioned by Singapore Art Museum
Collection of the artist and Amanda Wilkinson Gallery
The QR code has become ubiquitous in Singapore as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. People are obliged to use QR codes while going about their daily life, scanning these codes to check in and out of everyday places like shopping centres and supermarkets to help authorities identify those who may have been exposed to the virus. Safe Entry is a mural produced by repeating a single, enlarged QR code. It is an ambiguous, dynamic and unfathomable landscape, created from one of the many representations of the digital data that surrounds us and permeates our lives.
The original QR code used in this mural links to a video of the artist on a long walk in Changi Airport’s Terminal 2 on 16 April 2020, posted on his Ambient Walking YouTube channel. It was the 10th day of Singapore’s “circuit breaker,” a term for the country’s COVID-19 lockdown. Terminal 2 is currently being renovated, paralleling the ongoing refresh of the Singapore Art Museum behind this hoarding.
Click on this link or scan the original QR code below to walk through Terminal 2 with the artist now.