By Tze Yang
I enjoy taking walks. It’s a habit I have cultivated since young. I often take walks with my parents. Usually after a meal we will walk, while also on the hunt for a decent cup of kopi. Gradually, standing at a spot for a minute or two to snap a few shots or film a scene with my handphone has become a habit of mine, which has gradually grown to become a huge part of my artistic practice – the casual record of daily life; the possibility of meaning in the obviously banal. In the conversational transcript in the exhibition booklet I talked about a painting Neon (2015) which is an example of how walks affect my practice greatly.
Walks were also a big part of this collaboration with PG. Or rather our friendship. Aimlessly walking around a place we just had dinner at, walking through the alleys behind shops or run down old shopping malls, doing that “poetry in everyday life” thing. And we do see curious things on these walks, that eventually lead to interesting conversations. For instance, one evening, after a Hainanese Curry Rice dinner at Jalan Besar we were walking around the area and we stumbled upon a getai show in a kopitiam (the one with the very famous charcoal-cooked laksa). Intrigued, we sat and watched for a bit. After we left we conversed getai and the distance we felt from getai and other related culture – things quite distant from the younger generation, or at least the jiak kantang (English-educated) generation. We discussed on how the art scene around us is extremely Westernised, and how there will always be a gap between us Singaporeans with all-too-Asian backgrounds and the Western “ideals” the art scene pursues. Such are topics that come from simple sights during walks… that lead to thoughts that float around your brain for quite awhile, or maybe even become part of an artwork.
So I guess walks, whether they are with my family or friends like PG, are time slowed down, like a painting – a small fraction of time distilled over the time you take to make a painting. An interesting sight, a beautiful sight, a face, leaves lit by neon lights, that lead to conversations that lead to even more interesting thoughts for the long term.
Come to think of it, it’s pretty amazing walks are still a part of my life. Everything moves so fast now. The changes, the developments, the endless construction sites, the speed of your 4G data. Walks counter that. Walks ask you to take life one step at a time literally, to look at all that is around you, even if it’s just a plastic bag in a drain or an air-con repair advertisement on a lamppost. And I guess they are also good for your health haha.