Enter the Play Den of Singapore International Festival of Arts 2018‘s Festival House and you will find yourself surrounded by the performers of Anticipation Of One. They have their eyes closed and their stillness of body encourages you to look around the space. The oblong space is transformed into a smaller and more intimate space, with all the seats gone. us as audience are to stand right in the middle of the space, body to body and bags on the floor. Atmospheric music plays and before long, media artist Brandon Tay‘s graphics come on screen to greet us. And the show begins.
Anticipation of One is an audiovisual performance that explores the converging of multiple selves. What happens when multiple pasts, presents and futures come together in the form of an artistic collaboration.
It is slow to start. Each musician take their turn to share with us their exploration of sound with instruments they master. From SA the collective, you have Natalie Alexandra Tse on the guzheng, Chinese zither, Cheryl Ong on percussion and drums and Andy Chia on the dizi, Chinese flute. NADA‘s Safuan Johari on the sound console – manipulating sounds and keeping the rhythm going while Rizman Putra is the centrepiece of the room. Dressed and painted entirely in white, eyes closed and still, the moment his voice escapes his mouth surprises us all.
Audience members start to seek rest on the floor as the music tries to build up gradually, as each musician take turns to occupy the space with their individual sounds. The repetition did not seem to help, and swaying to the music simply did not cut it after the second round of playing starts. However, as the modulations of all the various instruments come together, audience members naturally follow the beats with their bodies. Be it head banging, moving and shuffling of feet. The room starts to move. The atmosphere and excitement in the room starts to pick up as the musicians all come together to create something – together.
Tay’s graphics start to distort even more as well. Bodies and faces vibrating to the music, spinning on screens and eyes soullessly looking out at the rest of us standing in the room. The faces seem to model after the performers themselves – bearing facial similarities yet express themselves in ways of such separation and detachment. I am most fascinated by the visuals – how strange they all seem but somehow are able to connect with me. It is almost as if my heart and mind are able to understand this story – if there is one – though placing them into words is a struggle.
When the ending finally came, the experience feels too premature to finish. Perhaps the initial establishment of what’s going on took too long and the sense of gratification with being in a live performance did not come across as strongly as it could have. With all that is said, I applaud the use of this space to experiment and to share it with an audience. I look forward to more of such works – after all, if we only permit ‘success’ then how far can we really go?
The Singapore International Festival of Arts 2018 will be happening from 26th April to 12th May 2018. Check out what else the festival has to offer here.