Exploit (Bukit Brown Cemetery II)

2013, Digital Video

Words by Zai Tang

One of the largest Chinese graveyards outside China, Bukit Brown Cemetery is home to 100,000 graves, including many of Singapore’s early pioneers. The 200-hectare woodland habit also assumes the role of sanctuary to a colourful array of wildlife, including a handful of vulnerable and endangered bird species. Despite its historical and ecological significance, part of Bukit Brown will make way for a 4-lane highway to begin construction in the coming months, whilst the rest of it will eventually be displaced by new public housing in the decades to follow.

Exploit (Bukit Brown Cemetery II) is one of two works concerning the transformation of Bukit Brown’s acoustic environment, stemming from an on-going soundscape study that Zai began in May 2013. The work takes the form of a digitally animated visual-music piece that makes use of field recordings from the study. The collaborators were curious to discover how far they could develop a work together when regarding the sound material purely as sound-objects (i.e. apprehended without any relation to its source). Any ethical concerns pertaining to the treatment of material as living things from Bukit Brown have been put aside, so that the primary aim of creating a rich and dynamic synaesthetic experience can be achieved – the material is simply a stepping-stone for the collaborators own progress. Situated within the narrative of Singapore’s perpetual morphosis, the work encourages us to question the extent to which a sacrifice is justifiable for the sake of development.

Sound & Concept: Zai Tang
Image: Simon Ball

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