In this artist-led studio tour, Russell Morton will talk about his references and unpack some of the research materials that will be woven into the structure of his first feature film: a dark narrative of drifting away from crime and floating in punishment inspired by a grim historical episode which happened in Singapore in the early 1960s.

The filmic and performative practice of Russell Morton (b.1982, Singapore) explores folkloric myths, esoteric rituals, and the conventions of cinema itself. His film Saudade (2020) was commissioned for State of Motion: Rushes of Time, Asian Film Archives, Singapore, and presented at the 31st Singapore International Film Festival (2020); The Forest of Copper Columns (2015) won the Cinematic Achievement Award at the 57th Thessaloniki Film Festival, Greece (2016) and was selected for several festivals including the Short Shorts Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan (2017), the Thai Short Film and Video Festival, Bangkok, Thailand, and Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival, Indonesia (both 2016).

Admission is free but registration is required. Please register here.

This event is part of Residencies OPEN, 18 September 2021 (1.00 – 7.00pm), for more info click here.

Image: Russell Morton, expired Super 8mm footage of life on a kelong in Singapore’s waters, 2021, film stills. Courtesy of the artist.

Completed during the residency, Russell Morton‘s latest short film revolves around the eclectic and versatile figure of Mohammad Din Mohammad (1955 – 2007). Artist and mystic, traditional healer and idiosyncratic collector of Southeast Asian cultural items, Mohammad Din Mohammad was also an actor and a silat master. Playfully disclosing the production limitations imposed by the pandemic, the film evokes Mohammad’s multifaceted personality through the faces, voices, and memories of the artist’s family members and an experimental process where affects and sounds are mediated by technology. As it unfolds, the film grows into an upbeat stream of visuals and sounds mixed by Momok, a computer algorithm created by artist bani haykal.

Mystic & Momok was commissioned by National Gallery Singapore for the exhibition Something New Must Turn Up: Six Singaporean Artists After 1965 (7 May – 22 August 2021) which featured Mohammad Din Mohammad’s works.
 
This event marks the opening of The Screening Room, NTU CCA Singapore’s cosy new space dedicated to film screenings and talks.

This event is part of Residencies OPEN, 18 September 2021 (1.00 – 7.00pm), for more info click here.
Image: Mystic & Momok, 2021, HD (16:9), video, stereo, 18min 10sec. Courtesy of the artist.

Come by the studios of our Artists-in-Residence: Tini Aliman and Russell Morton (both Singapore) for a special insight into their artistic process. This session of Residencies OPEN will allow you to encounter works-in-progress, watch a film screening, browse archival materials, and talk to the artists in person!

Tini Aliman, detail of work in progress, 2021. Courtesy of NTU CCA Singapore

TINI ALIMAN
Open Studio

Saturday, 18 September, 1:00 ­– 7:00 pm
Block 37 Malan Road, #01-03
no registration required

As a new development of her long-term research on plant consciousness and biodata sonification, Tini Aliman has come to regard ‘dead’ trees as potential archives of environmental soundscapes, witnesses of urban development and extractive capitalism, ecological events and climate change. Breathing new life into tree stumps, fragments of felled trees, and repurposed wood from previous artworks, the artist is reconfiguring these materials into kinetic and sound sculpture prototypes and she is experimenting with a range of sensory and mechanical modes of activation. Conjunctly, inspired by the structural and functional similarities between Printed Circuit Board (PCB) etching designs and forest underground network ecosystems, Tini is also speculatively imagining a functioning network of closed electronic circuits that mimics how these trees would have communicated while they were still alive. This project is realised in collaboration with Trying.sg.

Working at the intersection of film, sound, theatre, and installation, often through collaborative projects, the sonic and spatial experiments of Tini Aliman (b. 1980, Singapore) focus on forest networks, plant consciousness, bioacoustics, and data translations via biodata sonification. Her recent projects and collaborations have been presented at Free Jazz III: Sound. Walks. NTU CCA Singapore (2021); An Exercise of Meaning in a Glitch Season, National Gallery Singapore (2020); Sound Kite Orchestra, Biennale Urbana, Venice, Italy and Stories We Tell to Scare Ourselves With, Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei, Taiwan (both 2019).

Studio of Russell Morton (detail), 2021. Courtesy of NTU CCA Singapore

RUSSELL MORTON
Open Studio

Saturday, 18 September, 1:00 ­– 7:00 pm
Block 37 Malan Road, #01­-02 & Block 38 Malan Road, #01-06
no registration required

For the past six months, Russell Morton has dived deep into gathering research materials and audiovisual references for the script of his first feature film. Inspired by a not well-known historical event—a prison riot which took place in Pulau Senang before Singapore’s independence—, the film interweaves the horrific events of the bloody riot with regional folklore. This open studio session presents a generous selection of archival materials, oral histories, and sound recordings relevant to the development of the script as well as the documentation (shot on Super 8mm film) of the artist’ site visits to a kelong, a type of vernacular architecture on the verge of disappearing that will feature prominently in the film.
Furthermore, there will be the opportunity to watch Morton’s most recent short film Mystic and Momok (2021), see below for more details.  

The filmic and performative practice of Russell Morton (b. 1982, Singapore) explores folkloric myths, esoteric rituals, and the conventions of cinema itself. His film Saudade (2020) was commissioned for State of Motion: Rushes of Time, Asian Film Archives, Singapore, and presented at the 31st Singapore International Film Festival (2020); The Forest of Copper Columns (2015) won the Cinematic Achievement Award at the 57th Thessaloniki Film Festival, Greece (2016) and was selected for several festivals including the Short Shorts Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan (2017), the Thai Short Film and Video Festival, Bangkok, Thailand, and Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival, Indonesia (both 2016).

RESIDENCIES INSIGHTS

Russell Morton, expired Super 8mm footage of life on a kelong in Singapore waters, 2021, film stills. Courtesy of the artist.

RUSSELL MORTON: ARTIST-LED STUDIO TOUR

Saturday, 18 September, 3:00 – 3:45pm
Block 37 Malan Road, #01-02

In this artist-led studio tour, Russell Morton will talk about his references and unpack some of the research materials that will be woven into the structure of his first feature film: a dark narrative of drifting away from crime and floating in punishment inspired by a grim historical episode which happened in Singapore in the early 1960s. 

Due to safe-distancing measures, this event has limited capacity and is by registration only. Please register here.

Tini Aliman, untitled, 2021, photography and digital composition (detail). Courtesy of the artist.

TINI ALIMAN: OF UNDERGROUND SCHEMATICS & THE FALLEN TREE
Artist Talk and Performance

Saturday, 18 September, 4:30 – 5:30pm
Block 37 Malan Road, #01-03

In a two-part event consisting of a talk and a performance, Tini Aliman will share her findings and reflections on plant consciousness and on the parallels between the human and the vegetable sensorium, interweaving them with explorations in acoustic memory and sonic symbolism related to her personal musical journey. In the performance, she will engage with her long-standing collaborator, a ficus microcarpa (Malayan banyan tree) named Ara. 

Due to safe-distancing measures, this event has limited capacity and is by registration only.Please register here.

Mystic & Momok, 2021, HD video (16:9), stereo, 18min 10sec. Courtesy of the artist.

MYSTIC & MOMOK BY RUSSELL MORTON
Film Screening (on loop)
HD video (16:9), stereo, 18min 10sec, 2021
Rating: PG

Saturday, 18 September, 1:00 – 7:00pm
The Screening Room
Block 38 Malan Road, #01-06
No registration required. Please expect waiting time if room capacity is reached.

Completed during the residency, Russell Morton’s latest short film revolves around the eclectic and versatile figure of Mohammad Din Mohammad (1955 – 2007). Artist and mystic, traditional healer and idiosyncratic collector of Southeast Asian cultural items, Mohammad Din Mohammad was also an actor and a silat master. Playfully disclosing the production limitations imposed by the pandemic, the film evokes Mohammad’s multifaceted personality through the faces, voices, and memories of the artist’s family members and an experimental process where affects and sounds are mediated by technology. As it unfolds, the film grows into an upbeat stream of visuals and sounds mixed by Momok, a computer algorithm created by artist bani haykal.

Mystic & Momok was commissioned by National Gallery Singapore for the exhibition Something New Must Turn Up: Six Singaporean Artists After 1965 (7 May – 22 August 2021) which featured Mohammad Din Mohammad’s works.
 
This event marks the opening of The Screening Room, NTU CCA Singapore’s cosy new space dedicated to film screenings and talks.

Zac Langdon-Pole’s projects often take their point of departure in social structures of representation and organisation in order to question how and for whom such structures are posed. His current research relates specifically to the regions of Southeast Asia and the South West Pacific, and is centred on the mythology and historical cultural exchange of the so called ‘birds of paradise’ from Papua New Guinea. His interest lies in how within procedures of cultural exchange the loss of, or transposing and translating of information can itself be a process of formation. Two ideas that are currently helping to inform his research are Walter Benjamin’s notion of ‘the wish image’ that stands at the intersection of materialism and mythology and Peter Mason’s explanation of the process of ‘exotification’, in his book Infelicities. This is the idea that the exotic is not something that exists prior to its ‘discovery’ but rather is formed in the very act of discovery itself.

Stemming from personal circumstances—due to his father’s employment as commander of the prison tactical unit, the artist grew up in Changi Prison’s quarters —Morton developed a direct, albeit unspoken, intimacy with the tortuous ethical issues and psychological consequences related to the most extreme form of law enforcement. Through researching archival materials, oral histories as well as literature and films from post-independence Singapore, the artist plans to interweave the nightmares and traumas experienced by both the punisher and the punished by steeping the fictional narrative into Malayan myths, folk music, and vernacular architecture.

In this episode of AiRCAST, we venture into the mysterious and mobile mindscape of our Artist-in-Residence, Russell Morton. During the residency, Russell has been deeply immersed in the development of his most ambitious project to date, his first feature film. Find out how a grim, largely forgotten historical event and past personal experiences will contribute to shape the narrative and the ambience of the film. The artist also reveals how he managed to overcome ‘the anxiety of influence’ and expands on his fascination for Southeast Asian folklore, the psychological underpinnings of horror films, and the role music plays in his work.

The filmic and performative practice of Russell Morton (b. 1982, Singapore) explores folkloric myths, esoteric rituals, and the conventions of cinema itself. His film Saudade (2020) was commissioned for State of Motion: Rushes of Time, Asian Film Archives, Singapore, and presented at the 31st Singapore International Film Festival (2020); The Forest of Copper Columns (2015) won the Cinematic Achievement Award at the 57th Thessaloniki Film Festival, Greece (2016) and was selected for several festivals including the Short Shorts Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan (2017); the Thai Short Film and Video Festival, Bangkok, Thailand and Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival, Indonesia (both 2016).

Contributor: Russell Morton
Conducted by: Anna Lovecchio
Programme Manager: Kristine Tan
Sound Engineer: Rudi Osman 
Intro & Outro Music: Tini Aliman
Cover Image & Design: Arabelle Zhuang, Kristine Tan

Credits:
11:53: Audio excerpt from Island of Hope, National Archives Website, Record date 1960s, https://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/audiovisual_records/recorddetails/46b4445e-1164-11e3-83d5-0050568939ad
21:35: Recording from Russell Morton’s site visit to a kelong in Singapore. Courtesy the artist.
25:48: Audio excerpt from Russell Morton’s Saudade, 2020. Music by Syafii Ghazali. Courtesy the artist
35:20: Audio excerpt from Tani Yutaka, Marai no Tora, 1943 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lTigyqta_k]
36:58: Audio excerpt from “Siapa Dia” by Zainab Majid, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gDHPP6K-mA]

[See Full Transcript]

Addressing contentious historical episodes, the films of Daniel Hui (b.1986, Singapore) straddle between documentary and fiction, blurring the boundaries between institutional accounts, mythical narratives, oral testimonies, and personal memories. His films have been screened at various film festivals and museums including the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, South Korea (2016); Singapore Art Museum (2015); and International Film Festival Rotterdam, Netherlands (2010). His feature-length film Snakeskin (2014) received awards at the 2015 Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, Japan, and at the Torino Film Festival, Italy in 2014. Hui’s latest film, Demons (2018) recently premiered at the Busan International Film Festival, South Korea.

Chia-Wei Hsu (b. 1983, Taiwan) an artist, filmmaker, and curator based in Taiwan whose work merges the language of contemporary art and film, often unveiling the complex production apparatus – cameras, camera cranes, lighting kits, microphones, etc. – employed in the filmmaking process. In his practice, Hsu unearths histories of the Cold War in Asia buried in precise geographical locations and brings them back to life through narrative and visual sequences that blend myth and reality, historical documentation and fictional developments. Fabricating a mythical narrative where stories, spirits, and machineries unfold on the same level, Hsu maintains a critical attitude toward the structure of film and often seeks to present his projects outside of museums and other contemporary art venues.

Chia-Wei Hsu’s works have been presented in numerous exhibitions and festivals worldwide, including Haus der Kulturen der Welt (2017); Cinema Muzeul Țăranului, Bucharest, Romania (2016); 4th Taiwan International Video Art Exhibition, Hong-Gah Museum, Taipei (2014); 55th International Venice Biennale, Italy (2013); 2012 Taipei Biennial, Taiwan, (2012); Beirut Art Center, Lebanon (2012); Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2011). He was Artist-in-Residence at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany (2014) and at the International Studio and Curatorial Program, New York, United States, (2010). In 2013, he was a finalist for the Hugo Boss Asia Art Award. From 2011 to 2013, he was appointed director of Open Contemporary Art Center in Taipei, Taiwan.

Zac Langdon-Pole’s projects often take their point of departure in social structures of representation and organisation in order to question how and for whom such structures are posed. His current research relates specifically to the regions of Southeast Asia and the South West Pacific, and is centred on the mythology and historical cultural exchange of the so called ‘birds of paradise’ from Papua New Guinea. His interest lies in how within procedures of cultural exchange the loss of, or transposing and translating of information can itself be a process of formation. Two ideas that are currently helping to inform his research are Walter Benjamin’s notion of ‘the wish image’ that stands at the intersection of materialism and mythology and Peter Mason’s explanation of the process of ‘exotification’, in his book Infelicities. This is the idea that the exotic is not something that exists prior to its ‘discovery’ but rather is formed in the very act of discovery itself.

For the past decade, Zarina Muhammad has embarked on a multidisciplinary research that explores magico-religious belief systems, ritual practices, and sacred sites. The various embodiments of her work, which engage broader contexts of myth-making, ritual magic, gender-based archetypes, and spirits of resistance, frame the cultural biographies of objects and the region’s provisional relationship to mysticism and the immaterial against the dynamics of global modernity. Her research project for the residency takes the trans-local figures of the penunggu (tutelary spirit) and the tuan/puan tanah (Lord of the Land) as points of departure to reconsider notions of territoriality and spectrality against the social production of rationality. During the residency, she will focus on mapping old and new ways to tell stories of unresolved memories, fragmented cosmologies, shapeshifting translations, and haunted histories.

“Have formerly colonised countries become colonising countries learning from their own past? To what extent does the colonial past still affect our actions and mind-sets?” During his residency, UuDam Tran Nguyen will work on Time Boomerang, a long-term project started in 2013 that explores the lasting influence of colonialism. As a Vietnamese artist whose life has been defined by diasporic experiences, he frames his relation to history from a personal perspective. Articulated in eight phases, this ambitious project has a global scope and moves along a dizzying timeline of 250 millions years. The first phase, titled Phase 1. The Real Distance of Things Measured: The Cast of the Hands and Its Five Fingertips, revolves around the idea of measurement and has been presented at the Bildmuseet Museum of Contemporary Art, Umeå, Sweden, (2015).

UuDam Tran Nguyen’s multidisciplinary practice spans across different mediums often combining sophisticated technological devices with materials such as clay, rubber, wood, and fabrics.