Art in the Commons: artist Berny Tan reimagines Chinese Garden through data visualisation
Look out the MRT while pulling into the Chinese Garden station on Singapore’s East-West line, and one will immediately see the iconic park that the station was named after.
The picturesque pagodas and lush greenery of the Chinese Garden have long held special significance for Singaporeans. Today, most of it is covered in scaffolding since it was closed in 2019 for redevelopment. That means the beloved park can only be experienced in fragments: seen from afar, in pictures, or through people’s memories.
The second edition of Arts in the Commons: Data Visualising Jurong is offering a chance to reimagine the park through a new installation by Singapore artist Berny Tan.
Titled a shapeless mass; a network of times, the installation examines how the Chinese Garden exists in people’s memories. The installation comes in the form of 128 lanterns, each one representing an individual’s memories of the park. The lanterns take the shape of a hexagon, echoing the silhouettes of the pagodas at the Chinese Garden.
They were designed by layering different ways of interpreting data received during a public consultation, which led to a range of responses – from the heartfelt and detailed to the brief and vague.
They were then written into code and fed into a knitting machine to produce the lanterns.
“I wanted to think about how memories filled the space of the Chinese Garden when the location is now blocked off,” said Tan.
As an immersive and meditative space, the installation stands out from the other exhibits at Science Centre Singapore. It is part of the Singapore Art Museum’s collaboration with the Centre to embark on community-based art participatory art programmes within the Jurong district, in a bid to uncover community interests.
This installation is on at the Science Centre Singapore’s Mezzanine Space on Level 2 until 11 Sep. Access is included with general admission to Science Centre Singapore.
(Photos: Singapore Art Museum)