Quiet Worlds: The 167 Project

Another of the things I’ve been working on is a little artistic endeavour with a friend.

We’re hoping it’ll turn into something larger: an installation or an exhibition, perhaps, or maybe even a staged reading of sorts.

Not too sure how it’s gonna pan out, but as everything in life, we’ll eventually get to where we’re supposed to go.

Human progress and evolution have moved in tandem with the ability to communicate ideas between people and across spaces. As technologies emerge and develop over the years, humans have been better-enabled to communicate in more forms and at greater speeds than ever before.

While better means of communication have predisposed us to communicating more (from a quantitative perspective), we seem to be communicating less, from a qualitative perspective: people are glued to their phones as opposed to talking face-to-face; the human propensity for and inclination toward reading lengthy tomes and responding to messages and ideas have been reduced to quick sound-bites and quickly-typed out texts, limited to anything between 140 to 160 characters, depending on the medium of transmission and largely hinging upon our desire for instantaneous response; our need for speed.

What will happen to communication when forcible restraints on time and space are imposed upon it? Is language limited when limits are imposed on language?

Inspired from a conversation about correspondence, communication, procrastination and “The Quiet World” (a poem by Jeffrey McDaniel), Quiet Worlds: The 167 Project is a response to two artists’ desire to understand communication in a modern world through relatively “anachronistic” means.

Follow the correspondence between Magdalen Chua, a visual artist in Scotland, and Laremy Lee, a writer in Singapore, as they use snail mail to exchange postcards containing messages of no more than 167 characters in length to investigate and explore the confines (or the lack thereof) of language and human communication.

Feast: Dramafest 2013

Dramafest combined rehearsals at Eusoff Hall

So one of the things I’ve been busy with this year: coaching undergraduate hostelites from the National University of Singapore (NUS) with their short plays.

Some background about Dramafest:

  • The Halls of Residence at NUS are a pretty competitive bunch. I should know; I stayed at Kent Ridge Hall from 2004 to 2008.
  • An idea was mooted back in 2007/2008 to do something a bit more collaborative.

    Since then, the NUS Halls of Residence have been putting up an annual combined theatre production.

    It involves residents across halls working with one another as they write, direct and act in short plays of about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • I was a part of Dramafest 2008! I think I was super onz then so I submitted four plays… I can’t remember because it was so long ago.

    Anyway, the highlight of that year’s Dramafest was when one of my plays got censored.

    (Context: There’s a joke about making art in Singapore, in that you know you’ve made it as an artist when your work gets censored.)

    If you’re curious, Ho Yi Jian has done a pretty impressive job of archiving some stuff from the past over here and over here.

Anyway, I was invited to be a dramaturg for last year’s Dramafest.

I don’t think I mentioned it here because I remember last year being a damn busy period for me as I learnt how to cope with the freelance life.

Thankfully, I did a fairly decent job, so I was again invited to be the dramaturg for this year’s Dramafest.

As Lee Kuan Yew has said before, it’s always easier the second time round, so ladies and gentlemen, presenting to you: Feast – Dramafest 2013 by the NUS Halls of Residence!

Feast: Dramafest 2013 – Presented by the NUS Halls of Residence

Feast: Dramafest 2013 – Presented by the NUS Halls of Residence
Date: Sat, 5 Oct 2013
Time: 7pm – 10pm
Venue: University Cultural Centre, NUS
Admission is FREE

The plays, in order of performance:

The Stake
By Darryl Lim Yu Cong
In an age where pleasure is prized and gratification is instant, what does it mean to stay faithful to the one you love? The Stake explores themes of love, addiction and infidelity as it portrays a Singaporean man’s entry into the intoxicating world of lust and desire, in a sordid side of Singapore not often seen by many.

The Plumber’s Chime
By Minlu Zheng
Being loved is a lovely feeling: it means care, affection, and, perhaps, having someone to share your life and future with. But being loved can also mean that the distance between two naked bodies is a chasm far too wide to be crossed. How much are you willing to pay for love – or the feeling of being loved?

Playing Games
By Terence Lo
Human beings play games for many reasons: to cope; to entertain themselves; to pass the time. Games are also played because they’re designed in a specific way – to ensure that human beings keep playing the game. But what happens when we break the rules of a game? Playing Games portrays the “sweet sorrow” that the game of love between two people can sometimes bring.

Our Lady Biscotti
By Joelynn Wong
Two nosey baristas. A struggling coffee joint. A flamboyant food critic. A recipe for disaster? Join Gwendolyn and Cecily as they learn the importance of using Ernest – their earnest friend – in their bid to impress a tough food critic and help save Our Lady Biscotti.

By Gwen Lee
It’s 7pm in an HDB apartment and (Love) – a popular Taiwanese television drama – has just begun screening. As the opening refrain of the show’s theme song streams forth from the TV, an estranged daughter, a layabout son and an ageing mother have dinner together for the first time in ages. Unlike Taiwanese dramas, however, these characters don’t take weeks to say their lines…

Join the Facebook event here, but more importantly, please join me in watching the students’ work next Saturday!


Last Fri (13 Jan 2013) was quite an eventful day.

As part of my training in the Weapon X project, I went for yet another operation on Fri (a minor one this time: it was the affixment of abutments).

Since it was day surgery, I tottered home from the National Dental Centre after my surgery in some degree of pain.

But before I entered my home, I checked my mailbox out of habit, and I found I had mail.

Ergh, I thought. Bills and the like.

But wait – it wasn’t just bills. There was a letter from the National Arts Council.

Was it the reply I had been waiting for?

Letter of Offer: Participation in the 2013 Toji Writing Residency, Wonju City, South Korea

It was! Ladies and gentlemen, I am going to Korea from 1 Apr to 31 May 2013 as a Writer-in-Residence at the Toji Cultural Centre!

I’m extremely happy because my career plans/plans in general for this year are slowly falling into place.

I’m also very excited because I’ve been reading what others have said/blogged about Toji and it sounds extremely awesome!

Check out:

I’m looking forward to Korea and I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that I get the next residency I’m applying for.

Wish me luck!

P.S. I forgot to mention this: another good thing about receiving the letter on the day of my surgery was that it helped quite a bit with the pain.

Well, I might’ve imagined it, but hey – a little bit of endorphins never hurt anyone (pun intended)!

P.P.S. An ex-colleague had a very interesting contribution to make following my announcement about me being awarded the Residency on Facebook: