Songs of Companionship

(2019)
Mixed Media Installation;
4 split-flap displays (laser-cut acrylic, servo motor, die-cut PVC flaps, arduino and code), 5-channel sound, FM radios, dimensions variable.



Songs of Companionship is an audiovisual installation about loving and communicating love. It is a reflection on the relationships, dependencies, and engagements with those dear to us—the emotions certain and tentative, gestures given and withheld, and gambles won and lost. How do we speak to the ones we love, and how do we speak our love?  

Within the work are objects trying to “speak”, to express something, in one form or another. Among them are tunes composed and recorded by the artist, hidden within the folds of radio broadcast. The songs lie in wait, mingling with neighbouring frequencies. As they emerge from the static, they share their confessions to a crowd of strangers clumsily, and all the words come falling out.

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Spread across the installation are 4 spit-flap displays and 5 FM radios. Each split-flap display capsule shows a looped animation; of different scenes from everyday living.

By default, the soundscape that fills the space will be a multitude of radio broadcasts, coming from each radio. However, a composed 5-channel soundscape lie hidden in the airways, and visitors are invited to “tune in”, to interact with the radios to locate these sounds. They rotate the dial on each radio to scan for the right frequency – much like the act of tuning in and calibrating to another person. Once radio and frequency are aligned, the composed soundscape – composed of found sounds from people and things dear to me – envelopes the space.

At the core of the installation are two split-flap displays featuring hands, two improvised gestures in loop. In one split-flap animation, one hand “leads” and the other “follows”, and vice versa. Two hands take turns to hold the other, the continuity of these gestures atomised and illustrated in each flap.

And although each flap captures only a slice of time, we see the whole animation in a loop – as if it will be able to go on forever.

Enginnering support:
Jonas Chandra

Animation support:
Janel Ang

Exhibited in:
Esplanade Flipside Festival 2019