Singapore International Festival of Arts

Whimsy in the city Dream garden

Waking Dream (above) by SDNA, a video screened as part of Ron Arad's 7200; and Tropical Traumas: A Series Of Cinematographic Choreographies.
Waking Dream (above) by SDNA, a video screened as part of Ron Arad's 7200; and Tropical Traumas: A Series Of Cinematographic Choreographies.PHOTO: KONG CHONG YEW
Waking Dream by SDNA, a video screened as part of Ron Arad's 7200; and Tropical Traumas: A Series Of Cinematographic Choreographies (above).
Waking Dream by SDNA, a video screened as part of Ron Arad's 7200; and Tropical Traumas: A Series Of Cinematographic Choreographies (above).PHOTO: TUCKY PHOTOGRAPHY
Paradise Interrupted (above).
Paradise Interrupted (above).PHOTO: JULIA LYNN

Israeli artist Ron Arad's installation breathes new life and dimension into films

REVIEW / VIDEO INSTALLATION

RON ARAD'S 720°

TROPICAL TRAUMAS: A SERIES OF CINEMATOGRAPHIC CHOREOGRAPHIES

The Meadow @ Gardens By The Bay/Last Friday

The numbers for influential Israeli artist and architect Ron Arad's installation, titled 7200, are impressive.

The circular video screen with a 360-degree projection on both the inside and outside of the screen measures 8m tall and 18m wide and it is made up of 5,600 silicone cords dangling from a suspended ring. It stands in the Meadow of Gardens by the Bay as part of the Singapore International Festival of Arts.

  • VIEW IT / RON ARAD'S 720°

  • WHERE: The Meadow @ Gardens By The Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Drive

    WHEN: Till Sept 17, 7 to 11pm daily

    ADMISSION: Free

The voluptuous construction, which shines like a glorious white hole at night, is, however, more than the sum of its parts.

The 11 videos by different artists that are projected onto the screen cause it to morph from a catwalk for strange, colourful characters to the subconscious of a dreaming man and the eyes of forest animals.

And because of its size and form, the screen is more than a passive projection surface - it breathes new life and dimension into the films that are shown, on loop, becoming a necessary part of their experience.

When viewed from the outside, the animated film by Jude and Jolyon Greenaway of the London performing arts venue, Roundhouse - where 7200 premiered in 2011 - presents a majestic image of steel beams and archways materialising magically against the cityscape of Marina Bay.

The projected construction is at once alien and at home amid the glass-and-steel skyscrapers of the financial district and the futuristic garden domes of Gardens By The Bay.

With Parade by Universal Everything, the film joins forces with the monumental screen to beam up transmogrifying biomorphic forms that strut, slink and sprint around the circle, bringing a larger- than-life dose of whimsy with each step they take.

For the film The Fat Girl Gets A Haircut And Other Stories by Babis Alexiadis, the screen turns what were originally landscapes for a theatrical production of the same name into an infinite scroll of animated illustrations and a work of art in its own right.

The installation is also the setting for the live performance titled Tropical Traumas: A Series Of Cinematographic Choreographies, by home- grown artist Brian Gothong Tan.

Commissioned by the festival, the show - with a three-night run - takes place on a raised runway on the inside of the screen that bisects the circular space.

The premise of the performance is the filming of vignettes, loosely associated with the founder of modern Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles, by a madcap Spanish-speaking film-maker (Felipe Cervera) and his three actors (Edith Podesta, Karen Tan and Koh Boon Pin).

Many of the scenes are built around the passions of Sophia Hull, Raffles' second wife, who travelled with him from Europe to Asia and penned his influential biography. Her love for her husband and her grief for her children who died young play out in sketches where song and monologue dominate.

Yet it is the striking multimedia projections by Brian Gothong Tan that do most of the heavy-lifting in the performance.

The videos, which include images of 19th-century maps, natural history drawings and animated photo- montages, not only conjure immersive environments ranging from the rocking hull of a ship to an exotic forest and a celestial realm, but they also enact stories such as the exoticising of the East and the tension between nature and civilisation.

They, the screen and their creators are deserving of the curtain call.

• For more Sifa 2016 stories, go to http://str. sg/ZtWh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2016, with the headline 'Whimsy in the city Dream garden'. Print Edition | Subscribe