Gliding Through ●▲◆ | Multi-channel Video Installation | Gare Saint Sauveur Lille3000 | Lille, France | April -September 2015

†Installation View†

†Video Stills†

Multi Channel videos, part of Gliding Through ●▲◆ Installation

Gliding Through ●▲◆
Mixed Media installation
Dimensions Variable
New Commission

“It is probable that we have been everywhere, in dreams, in an epileptic fit, in successive transmigrations and at present we are dying of boredom at always seeing the same places. Who can say with certainty whether he has or has not to a particular place?
– Guido Ceronetti

“Once upon a time, I, Chuang Tzu, dreamt that I was a butterfly, flitting around and enjoying myself. I had no idea I was Chuang Tzu. Then suddenly I woke up and was Chuang Tzu again. But I could not tell, had I been Chuang Tzu dreaming I was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming I was now Chuang Tzu. “
– Chuang Tzu

Humankind often wonders about a life in the future, after our death, but oft-forgotten is the notion of the life before birth. From this standpoint, it would seem that Death and Life can reverse themselves. In this work, Joo revisits philosophers’ contemplations, such as Chuang Tzu’s notions of dreaming to be a butterfly and then waking up and wondering if he was Chuang Tzu or a butterfly. In addition, she explores Guido Ceronetti’s idea that people have been everywhere whether in dreams, in an epileptic fit, or successive transmigrations.
Gliding Through ●▲◆ is multi-channel video work that takes viewers on a fantasy journey of souls through the idea of Space, which is experienced through physical bodies and successive lives with the idea that we humans have gone everywhere in our past lives. In particular, the artists draws inspiration from and connects 2 disparate spaces – Haw Par Villa in Singapore where the artist’s studio is and Gare St Saveur, the exhibition venue in Lille, France which was formerly a train station.

Haw Par Villa, also known as Tiger Balm Gardens, is an old theme park in Singapore that has more than a thousand statues and 150 dioramas depicting Chinese folklore. It was built in 1937 by the Aw brothers, of Tiger Balm fame – a medicinal paste for relief of aches and pains said to be for soothing the stress from court hearings during the time of Chinese emperors. Unlike the typical amusement parks of today, such as Universal Studio or Disneyland, Haw Par Villa was constructed to promote Chinese philosophical and moralistic teachings to the masses. The intention was to revive the lost Chinese values by depicting scenes from Chinese legends, history and Confucius ideology. The park was as intended as a place where families could spend a leisurely day and recount the Chinese stories to their children to inculcate Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian values, it is not without gory imagery, especially in the most famous attraction – the Ten Courts of Hell. The park still exists today and draws references to the mythical hybrid creatures that comprise human and animal body parts that can be found there. The legendary creatures in the folklore often symbolise vice and virtue or good and evil.

Theatrical Performance at Haw Par Villa in the 1960s-70s

The importance of hybridity to Choon Lin is in that the manifestation of life, the drive to live and thrive in us is the very same drive that also exists in everything from the largest creatures to the smallest insects. Chuang Tzu’s butterfly dream underscored that all living things are united by the life force within them. When we recognize this, we can begin to see ourselves as part of nature than apart from nature. Similarly, the costumes used by the actors represent the transformation of life. Joo likens our body to clothing, where there is an interchangeability of appearance and reality, a time of meditation, reflection, while we await transformation - much like the fully grown caterpillar going into the chrysalis stage. In the video, the human-crab character transforms into a fairy-like being, is free from its heavy shell and opens its wings. A magical metamorphosis begins with this spectacular transformation that represents joyous freedom and bears no resemblance to its former self - a liberating state of spirituality where one transcends fear just like the butterfly in Chuang Tzu’s dream, not held back by emotional or material attachment that tie most people down.

Abigail Chay
Adi Jamaludin
Amei (Ameir Samsudin)
Eudora Rusli
Gillian Tan
Lyon Sim
Nanda Yadav

Videos on youtube:
Video Channel 1:
Video Channel 2:
Video Channel 3:
Video Channel 4:
Video Channel 5:

Excerpt Text of ‘Of In-Between’ By Naomi Wang

It is perhaps appropriate at this juncture to question the opacity of the garden’s barriers and its supposedly divine presence. ‘It is probable that we have been everywhere, in dreams, in an epileptic fit, in successive transmigration and at present we are dying of boredom at always seeing the same places. Who can say with certainty whether he has, or has not been to a particular place?” In these words of Guido Ceronetti, whose works and philosophies have inspired the thinking behind Joo Choon Lin’s Gliding Through ●▲◆ is an exixtential work that is about movement between paradigms and spaces, physical or otherwise. Referencing mainly the Chinese moral and mythical teaching of the “Ten Courts of Hell”, whereby it is believed that human beings will need to undergo levels of punishment to atone for the sins of their lifetimes, Joo chooses to re-adapt this severe notion relatingto one’safterlife, by bringing attention to the root of good and evil. In Joo’ percepton, the definition of good and evil are debatable, with what might appear to be intrinsically good, as something that can in actuality be harmful. This work brings into question our current standards of good and evil and if these definitions still stand, in the way we govern and think about the world. At the entrance of Joo’s work for instance, stands two characters that represent guardians that guard the door of the afterlife. Their original functions are serious and foreboding, taking the souls of humans to enter the vortex of the ‘Ten Courts of Hell’. Joo has however fashioned these two characters with clown-like appearances, mocking their severe and important functions. The idea of play here is used as a tool to deter feeling of fear and judgment where human being transition into a place of unknown and uncertainty. Joo’s work os transcendental, in that space is but an infinite vacuum. Armed with a life force, all entities are able to transform and evolve in phrases of hybridity and interchangeability. In Joo’s work, the walled enclosure of the garden becomes an implied, metaphorical enclosure from which the mind can break free from. It is in such states of sublimity and uncertainty that the dichotomy of the two worlds can be resolved, that the discord which separates one land from the next, one existence from the other, can be mediated.