Singapore has always prided itself as being a Garden City, with some even labeling our city-state to be the working model of maintaining nature as an integral part of an urban landscape. Set in a region of rich biodiversity that is undergoing massive land-use changes, Singapore has topped the list in suffering the heaviest biodiversity loss among South-east Asian countries. Ecologist Mr Lahiru Wijedasa will take us through the trends in land transformation in South-east Asia and Singapore’s evolution in this broader context, while environmental art photographer Ms Zen Teh will share how she explores the relationship between urban development and our natural environment in her artwork. Together, they will discuss the effects of landscape change and fragmentation. Can man-made green spaces like recreational parks provide the same functions as our nature areas and nature reserves? How can we improve on the linkages of the remnant patches that are left?
What do we see in Nature photographs? What meaning do we derive from them? For those who may not have the opportunity to experience certain aspects of Nature, photography offers its viewers a window to its wonders. However, do Nature photographs accurately reflect reality? Or do they merely reflect the photographer’s personal perception based on how they react to what is seen? Sometimes truths may be manipulated to convey an idealized or sensationalized version of Nature, perhaps even to an extent of becoming Nature pornography. On the other hand do all photographs have to relay truths? Is it okay to view photographs without any context and appreciate it for what it is? Bird researcher David Tan and art photographer and founder of the fictional Institute of Critical Zoologist Robert Zhao Renhui will discuss these topics and bring us through two very different sets of nature photographs with a critical eye, explore the different purposes of nature photography and how Nature photographs are conceptualized and taken.
Much has been said about Singapore being a concrete jungle and many Singaporeans being unaware of and apathetic towards native biodiversity and natural habitats within our borders. In fact, it has been ingrained into our collective psyche that Singapore is land-scarce and that economic growth is paramount to our survival, seemingly implying that Nature has no place on our crowded island. The word ‘divorce’ also suggests that akin to marriage, Singapore used to enjoy a happier relationship with Nature, but is this a wishful presumption on the part of romanticising nostalgics? Perhaps, Singaporeans have never valued Nature. Dr Vilma D’Rozario will, through her personal observations and participation in Nature-related activities, examine Singaporeans’ past and present attitudes towards Nature. Also, through a series of photographic artwork depicting Nature in Singapore, Mr Ang Song Nian will examine our dynamic relationship with Nature and see how we mutually influence each other. Not only do our attitudes towards Nature shape our influence on Nature, but our way of living has also been shaped by Nature in many inconspicuous ways.
Constructed Realities: Revelations about Nature Photography
Date: 20 Sep 2015, Sun
Time: 15:30hr – 17:15hr
Speakers: Mr N. Sivasothi, Mr Leong Kwok Peng, Mr Koh Chaik Hong, Ms Lucy Davis
Moderator: Natalia Huang
Singapore has faced threats to its natural heritage from long before independence and over the years, different challenges have emerged. With the increasingly intensive urbanization of space in Singapore, such challenges show no signs of abating in future. Through the lens of our veteran conservationists Mr Leong Kwok Peng and Mr N. Sivasothi, we will review conservation successes and failures of terrestrial and marine environments in Singapore’s history. These thought leaders will also share with us what they feel are the upcoming conservation challenges, one of which is counter-intuitively, why Singapore should not remove non-native trees such as the Albezia from our nature areas. Art photographer Mr Koh Chaik Hong and visual artist Ms Lucy Davis on the other hand, will show us how photographs and other forms of visual artwork can be a critical commentary of the changing face of Nature in Singapore through two different styles: documentary and abstract. As a panel, they will discuss the various means of creative conservation outreach that may better invoke a responsive chord in the Singaporean psyche.
Insight/Out – Reading local contemporary landscape photography
Date: 26 Sep 2015, Sat
Time: 15:00hr – 15:00hr
Speaker: Ms Kong Yen Lin
A symbol of rapid modernization and versatility on one hand, and of scientific rationality, barrenness, even dystopia, on the other, landscapes of Singapore have long been the cornerstone of the nation’s artistic inspiration, production, criticism and analysis. By surveying works and practices of various Singaporean contemporary photographers, this presentation will attempt to dissect the portrayal and approach towards nature and natural landscapes in Singapore in art making. Drawing from diverse fields of semiotics, social history and cultural studies, this session also seeks to bring to light the complexities of landscape representation in the Asian context – how issues of power, hegemony and identity are explored through this subject matter.