A sense of obsessive compulsion seeps through and overwhelms the viewers. Ang Song Nian’s strict attention to details and stoic alignments, are a result of his fear of chaos and this manifests in his works.
The above featured image is carefully composed, yet, looks as though the pots of plants that sprouted out of nowhere are deliberately imbued with a purpose of transmitting an ethereal message to earthlings.
We probed further and asked Ang what he thinks the trees are murmuring to us:
“Us, like the trees, are very controlled and managed by some ‘greater powers’ up there. As much as the plants think they’re very natural, they’re in the same situation as us.”
Trees are usually seen as humanistic interventions to segregate the urban environment; and whilst we see these segregations of green patches, oftentimes we forget how they relate to other things. The participatory relationship between humanity and his surrounding environment that has existed since the stone age, in its purest form, was meant to be life enhancing.
It is not till recently, that this mutually beneficial relationship has taken a u-turn, spurning widespread destruction and culminating in climate change. Freak dips in temperature, flash floods, sudden monsoons are nature’s not-so-subtle way of telling mankind to sit up and pay attention to the man-made destruction propelled by consumerism that has begun to seep into our psyche.
At the heart of Ang’s repertoire, are explorations on the tension that human interventions have been cast upon our natural landscape.
“We think the works of art are exposed to the public while, actually, it is the public that is exposed to the work of art”, Italian artist Gino De Dominicis once quipped.
The feelings that Ang’s works evoke in the viewer, are one of uneasiness and to a small extent, intrigue. In his words, “we like to control our environment, but we are very much controlled by them as well”. It is this constant tussle between the different living spheres, that gives rise to a deeper understanding of man’s interrelations with nature in his works.
Ang’s explorations of the epistemology dichotomy between human and nature have journeyed through major art events such as the eCREA 2010 Emergent Lleida Festival in Spain, the Singapore International Photography Festival 2010, Singapore Art Exhibition 2009 and the Singapore Arts Show in 2005.
In Ang’s photo collection “And Now, Like Sleeping Flowers” (2009 – 2010), the white fluttering motes scattered across the field resemble joss paper; a quiet premonition and gentle reminder that if we do not step up and be responsible for environmental maintenance, an imminent danger will soon loom and descend over our precious earth.
This ‘ecology movement’ has been reiterated by various artists for a while now, who are aware that we must confront our relationship with the biosphere head-on, if it is going to survive in a manner that is inclusive of human beings. The increasing prominence of this movement, coupled with Ang’s wry humour, is something that has made Ang a mainstay in the local art scene.