An OUTBOUND commission by National Gallery Singapore
Forum for Drone Speech – Singapore Simulations is inspired by the Gallery’s architecture and its connections to Singapore’s colonial past and diasporic society. The installation alludes to European neo-classical architecture, drawing on its forms to create a conversation with the former Municipal Building (now City Hall Wing). This historic building witnessed many of the nation’s milestones, including its eventual proclamation of independence in 1965.
The labels on the faux marble structure playfully appropriate museological language, interweaving factual introductions of artefacts with Yang’s subjective readings of them. The viewer needs to match these labels with images ranging from Dora Gordine’s multi-ethnic bronze busts, which were first displayed at this site, to works relating to the building's history by Italian sculptor Rudolfo Nolli, and various instruments used to navigate and perceive the world.
Three sculptures by Yang here appear as incongruous as the selection of artefacts, combining traditional crafts with modern industrial processes and materials. They are displayed as static museum pieces yet evoke movement and sound through bells and turbine vents, while recordings of birdsong and a speech by humanoid robot Nadine in six languages play from two loudspeakers.
Forum for Drone Speech – Singapore Simulations expresses a sense that history and the present are in flux. The illusory qualities of the materials used, including faux marble, hologram prints and robotic voice, suggest that different realities are at play. This work creates an awareness of museums as spaces where objects are continually rearranged and reinterpreted to envision alternative narratives, provoking questions on identity, belongingness and engagement.