Source × Asian Film Archives
4 November 2023

Source is a film, moving image, sound & music series by The Observatory. This Source, with support from Asian Film Archive, The Observatory presents works by Usaginingen, Lam Li Shuen & Mark Chua and TZECHAR feat Mervin Wong.

"Black kite -Pulsation of souls-" by Usaginingen
The rhythms of inconveniences accumulated in the churning society of egos.

World is changing colour, growing and withering as in human behavior, all is reflected in the eyes of the black kite looking down from the sky above.

One of Japan's biggest cases of illegal dumping on Teshima, a remote island in the western Japan. Large quantities of waste were brought in by ferries and burned, and the island was once known as the "island of garbage".

The peaceful life of the islanders was lost and the beautiful sandy beaches turned into a wreck. In 1993, residents of the island filed a pollution settlement request against the government accepting responsibility for its mishandling of this issue and requested that the waste be removed. Initially, the wishes of the small island's inhabitants were not reached at all. Nevertheless, their efforts were eventually moving public opinion. Many people joined the movement in support of their wishes, and after a tough struggle.

In June 2000, more than 20 years had passed since illegal dumping began, they finally won.Usaginingen is an audio-visual performance duo known for their unique handmade instruments. After spending 6 years in Berlin, they are now based on Teshima Island in Japan, and have opened their own theatre. In recent years, Usaginingen have expanded their activities beyond performances, including social activities such as island camps and park creation, workshops and online distribution.

"Taro, Taro" by Lam Li Shuen and Mark Chua
"Taro, Taro" is an expanded cinema performance by Lam Li Shuen and Mark Chua, exploring the materiality of the taro root through modified 16mm and Super 8 projections, together with prepared and improvisational sound. Borne from sound and image as a singular action, it is a live experimental film experience.The performance is inspired by the historical and spiritual traces of the taro as an ancient crop in early Southeast Asian history.

A thinking on its connections to maritime Southeast Asia, the borderlessness of the region, as well as migratory and agricultural flow. In bringing forth intimately textural impressions of the taro, the performance seeks to cast our eyes to buried layers beneath our soil. A physical reanimation of the clashing and converging lines of flow, in place, identity and history.

Lam Li Shuen and Mark Chua are a Singaporean filmmaker and artist duo. Their work, between image and sound, often employs absurdist imagery, thinking on place, histories and the peculiarity of human desire. They have also released multiple albums as the art rock duo ARE.

"The Great Void" by TZECHAR feat Mervin Wong
"The Great Void" is an audio-visual performance exploring the artists’ meditations on the core themes of existentialism and how people interface with each other via societal systems, such as government agencies, traditional and contemporary culture, financial systems, religion and technology.The works are presented as the two artists’ interpretations of the core themes of "The Great Void", via an audio-visual performance of arranged and improvised music, set to an edited video of original work, found footage and global media.

TZECHAR are a Melbourne/Singapore-based experimental art duo. They seek to understand and propose challenging points of view on the relationships between individuals, cultures and societies that are constant presences that humans have to co-exist with during their existence.

Mervin Wong is a performer, composer, and artist-producer located in Southeast Asia who’s practice is deeply dedicated to the shared experience of sound. Raised in chambers of string, it took a moment for him to recognize the Viola as his truest limb. The tectonic shift to this deeper, enduring register has shaped his foray into electronic music-making. Mournful but reft of grief. Mervin Wong’s long-form sensibilities rouse our waterflesh.

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