The Projectionist

Ng Yi-Sheng

September 1, 2015

There weren’t a lot of people at this installation. Which was kind of a surprise, when you consider how well attended the other Dance Marathon events have been, and that this event was free.

Then again, it was a Monday night in a non-air-conditioned space not terribly close to an MRT station, and a lot of people (me included) kind of want a holiday from all this art; maybe an art fast or an art cleanse or an art colonic where you pump your ass full of science or economics or fundamentalism religion until you’re ready for more art again.

Also, Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, while gorgeous, isn’t all that sexy at seven p.m., when most people turned up.

Oh look, Yukio Suzuki’s coconut sapling is still there.

Why is there this looped sequence of a Malay dancer kneeling? And a drive-by shot of Indian men in turbans by a railway track?

This guide doesn’t help.

As it turns out, everything looks better once night falls.


Also, I got some context from Medlin later on in the night. She doesn’t know where these images are appropriated from (yes, she uses the word “appropriated”). They’re mostly found footage she’s collected out of old archives, some of which have closed down since the nineties, and she’s used them as material or multimedia in various dance projects she’s worked on over the years.

I dunno if that dislocation makes it any better.

Look! Projectors!

One of the ladies I interviewed for Everyone’s A Critic told me of her great nostalgia for projectors, because her dad used to show 8mm films on their bedsheets at home in Japan. She badgered Medlin for information on the reels (16mm) and we oohed and aahed at the re-reeling mechanism together.

Actually, I was beo-ing the tech crew. But I tried not to make it obvious.

For some reason we didn't get to watch the Soviet Reptiles film. Boo.

Keng Sen came later in the night. For his benefit, Medlin described some of the original works from which these moving images were excerpted: Elasticity and Volume, an installation about space and movement; Mobility in an Artificial City, which consisted of the architecture and dance of an imaginary city on the border between the USA and Mexico.

I sat and watched a phantom hand the size of a locomotive grab the other side of the wall, because it was hella cool.

It’s a real pity The Projectionist wasn’t able to run longer, or else at a better timing – in conjunction with some dinner-and-drinks event, perhaps, or as a prelude or postlude to other performers.

But never you mind: I’m sure there were plenty of visitors we didn’t notice.

It is Hungry Ghost Month, after all.

See you again some evening!

  • 2015