The Sound of Singapore

This is the term paper written for USE2312 Nationalism and the Arts. As usual, I only post the introduction and the conclusion here. Please feel free to contact me via email (refer to the Home page) if you would like to read some of my arguments in detail or offer any critic. 

Introduction

If a nation has a vocal box, what will its whisper sound like? Zulkifle Mahmod provides an answer using his sound sculpture SONICreflection exhibited in the Singapore Art Museum as part of the Singapore Biennale 2016. This year’s biennale, titled An Atlas of Mirrors, features a selection from Asian contemporary artists under a retrospective theme. Zulkifle is one of the Singaporean artists whose artwork is exhibited in the biennale. His sculpture SONICreflection provides an immersive experience by occupying an isolated room in the exhibition. The sculpture continuously plays sound recordings of the Singaporean community through multiple tweeters mounted on a wall lined with wok lids in front of beams of blue light. Different recordings are played simultaneously, mixing snippets of dialogue, musical melodies and incidental noise. Pencil microphones are used to amplify the resultant cacophony so that audience can hear the recordings from a short distance. Zulkifle invites his audience to perceive Singapore through the sounds of the community. His artwork foregrounds the otherwise overlooked auditory character of a nation’s day-to-day life and the space it inhabits.

Conclusion

If a nation has a vocal box, what will its whisper sound like? Zulkifle Mahmod provides an answer using his sound sculpture SONICreflection exhibited in the Singapore Art Museum as part of the Singapore Biennale 2016. This year’s biennale, titled An Atlas of Mirrors, features a selection from Asian contemporary artists under a retrospective theme. Zulkifle is one of the Singaporean artists whose artwork is exhibited in the biennale. His sculpture SONICreflection provides an immersive experience by occupying an isolated room in the exhibition. The sculpture continuously plays sound recordings of the Singaporean community through multiple tweeters mounted on a wall lined with wok lids in front of beams of blue light. Different recordings are played simultaneously, mixing snippets of dialogue, musical melodies and incidental noise. Pencil microphones are used to amplify the resultant cacophony so that audience can hear the recordings from a short distance. Zulkifle invites his audience to perceive Singapore through the sounds of the community. His artwork foregrounds the otherwise overlooked auditory character of a nation’s day-to-day life and the space it inhabits.

Works Cited

Gumbrecht, Hans Ulrich. “Presence Achieved in Language (with Special Attention Given to the Presence of the Past).” History and Theory 45.3 (2006): 317-27. Print.

Renan, Ernest. What Is a Nation? Nationalism in Europe, 1815 to the Present: A Reader. Ed. Woolf, Stuart: London and New York: Routledge, 1996. Print.

Image Credit

http://www.zulmahmod.com/photos?lightbox=dataItem-iusagtu2

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