Creativity defies pandemic

Lasalle launches website to keep artistic conversations alive despite artists' limited access to supplies and opportunities

Future Of Past by audio production lecturer Dirk Stromberg. The Scramble by painter Khairulddin Wahab.
Future Of Past by audio production lecturer Dirk Stromberg. PHOTO: COURTESY OF LASALLE COLLEGE OF THE ARTS
Future Of Past by audio production lecturer Dirk Stromberg. The Scramble by painter Khairulddin Wahab.
The Scramble by painter Khairulddin Wahab. PHOTO: COURTESY OF LASALLE COLLEGE OF THE ARTS

Covid-19 has caused plenty of disruption, but for some Lasalle College of the Arts staff and alumni, it has also been a time for creativity to flourish amid constraints.

Their recent projects - from photos and an animation of the silent city during the circuit breaker to text or video commentaries on the pandemic - can now be found on an online platform known as Image And Sound In Spite Of.

"It is educational to see what other colleagues and artists are doing in this situation in spite of Covid-19," said Lasalle's senior fellow Milenko Prvacki, who launched the platform to keep artistic conversations going after the school's international art camp was cancelled.

So far, about 50 staff, alumni and former participants of the Tropical Lab art camp have been featured.

Audio production lecturer Dirk Stromberg, 41, one of the participating artists, created a video work using latency and induced feedback sounds from Zoom.

Stromberg, who missed having a more collaborative process of art-making, said: "Having sat through many curriculum discussion sessions where the latency and audio artefacts of Zoom were lamented, it came to me then - I could use the latency to create a duplicate version of myself and the artefacts to create subtle variations of my own playing."

In music production, an "artefact" is a type of sonic material that is accidental or unwanted.

He added: "Through some practice, I discovered how to manipulate the noise suppression algorithms in Zoom to create variation."

Painter Khairulddin Wahab, 30, turned to a new medium during the circuit breaker period when he could no longer access his Goodman Arts Centre studio.

Bereft of his usual art supplies, he started painting digitally on his iPad using an app known as Procreate - and the result is a series of digital paintings exploring the ideas of colonialism and the disenchantment of nature.

"It's something I'd already been planning, but (the circuit breaker) made it more pressing," said the Lasalle alumnus of his foray into digital painting.

He added that the app has benefited his art practice, making it more convenient to sketch out ideas before doing the actual painting on canvas.

Prvacki, who plans to get more artists' works featured on the website, told The Straits Times he was struck by how innovative the participants were.

"Many of them changed their medium. They started to find new avenues to create works. This could be a starting point for some of them to move beyond traditional ways of presenting art," he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2020, with the headline Creativity defies pandemic. Subscribe