Let me begin by saying this; that my love for music brought me here. A place where music has, in some way, become the enemy. That’s not to say I despise it. No, I want to study it even more. I want to understand if there is in fact a way to undo this indifference. I’m not quite sure I look forward to the answer. But this much I’ll say; if ignorance is bliss, then knowing is hell. Someday, and maybe not too long from today, all of us will forget about or simply remain ignorant of everything around us and what makes us human, whatever that may mean today or in the future. Maybe then, a semblance of a form of ‘utopia’ is visible. Cold, mechanical and insatiable. Maybe then, I’ll find a way to get lost and die trying. And just like today, how I found the meaning of life but because the translation was so bad it made no sense, keep questioning to know.
The Cultural Cold War, where the prefix ‘Cultural’ symbolises the strategies and methods built around the interest of engagement during the Cold War, is a significant period where culture was widely exported as part of state propaganda by the US promoting the promise of democracy. Musicologist Stuart Nicholson, in his book Jazz and Culture in the Global Age, addresses the complexities of the internationalisation of Jazz music during the Cold War, stating, “…the successful projection of image over reality, whereby American jazz ceased to be “a thing in itself,”[ ]…[ ]instead came with the weight of American cultural power behind it, projecting the symbols and myths of American democracy and freedom to encourage other nations to be sympathetic to the ideology of the United States…”. Yet methods of disseminating power and control over society, particularly through music, has been prevalent as far back as the 14th century, where minstrels are paid to serve kings, singing praises of their rule. Today, the resonances and residues of similar strategies by both public and private bodies in its efforts to demonstrate economic prowess and openness permitted / encouraged by the state, is not merely through cultural exports that is leading Singapore in the 21st century. The city-state’s Smart Nation programme is an initiative that invites another round of social, political and economic inquiry altogether; the overlapping roles and interest of private and public institutions and their influence / control over the public, people and spaces. Where venture capitalists, artists, entrepreneurs and policy makers are further embroiled and entangled in the dominant capitalist narrative where the presence, existence and roles of the general public and its spaces are often ignored or exploited (who truly benefits or profits from products / services such as Facebook and Google?) in an attempt to run and feed the economy (and those who operate it), this present landscape (referred to as a necropolis) offers a brief impression of a past riddled with control, power and contradictions. Amplifying theories of writer and researcher Evgeny Morozov, where he wrote, “Technological amnesia and complete indifference to history (especially the history of technological amnesia) remain the defining features of contemporary Internet debate.”, this work references and draws parallels from the concept / ideas behind the late 18th century invention by Wolfgang von Kempelen, the Mechanical Turk (also alluding to the present day usage / presence of the term and service by electronic commerce company Amazon.com), ‘necropolis for those without sleep’ reflects on systems of power and the desire to project (protect) it, examining the complex network and relationships of the political, economic and social landscapes and ask questions pertaining to the role of the public in the present neoliberal climate, where control mechanisms such as fear, entertainment and boredom are calibrated to orchestrate supply without demand.
Installation with custom designed mechanical turks, computer-programmed chess game, 3D printed chess pieces and jumpsuits.
TV monitor, CCTV and texts digitally printed on A4 cardstock.
cut-up A4 photo paper with frames.