context and then, form

not being able to back in australia, much less brisbane, was and is a huge consideration. how do i be present in a space that i am absent from? and more so, how live can it be?

also, quite naturally, the context of my part of this joint research project has to be relative to my being in singapore over this period of time. this environment and this society that i have been and am currently a part of and witnessing. what or who else are the subjects of my research but singapore and singaporeans. but this is where it gets exciting – somewhere in the project’s eventual transition from here to !Metro Arts’ gallery, there would be a cultural exchange – another dimension for comparison and study of proxemics and critical boundary.

smartphones and ipads are common gadgets today. and on the trains, we cling on to them dearly. we switch off the immediate surroundings that is the train ride, but are incredibly switched on to the world of data – emails, facebook, twitter…even texting and phone calls have shifted to using applications such as whatsapp, viber and tango.

the telecommunication networks are busy. just as the trains are crowded.

and that is the “physical” world. of packed trains, moving lifts, a bustling foodcourt of individuals, a hoard of people crossing an underpass…but still, we cling on to our gadgets.

would we know the difference if something changed in the normal “physical” world?

perhaps it is the aftereffect of having finished haruki murakami’s 1Q84 right about the same time as i started excavating my thoughts and ideas for this project? (spoiler alert: i’m not suggesting that we explore surreal ideas of parallel universes with 2 moons and little people, but) what if we begun to tweak certain everyday behaviours, would we notice?

would some distances that we are apparently comfortable with, remain comfortable? where are some of these boundaries, if they exist? when, before we raise our hand and say “stop!” or walk away all together? why are the situations, old and new, much different?

i’m talking about how we are often pressed up against a stranger in a packed train at peak hours. or that we lean back and glance to the side, and there you read text messages being typed. but what if we established a very neutral contact – but a conscious contact nonetheless? something like putting your hand on someone’s shoulder perhaps?

on in a lift where we stand lined up, shoulder to shoulder, with our arms folded in front of us, silent. what if we shifted an angle and turned to face the other person for the 20 seconds that is the lift ride.

more so, would the other person clock the change? and how would they respond to that difference? where was the critical boundary before the change, and where is that boundary now? or have some of these behaviour patterns been so ingrained that we have become somewhat indifferent to these boundaries?

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