falling in line, 2020

Falling in line is a body of work responding to the history of Gillman Barracks. The work is a specific reference to Block 7 that used to house the Army Kinema Corporation (AKC) which produced films for British military personnel worldwide. One of the films made was The New Lot (1943), a black-and-white movie about five new recruits and their transformation. Falling in line makes use of three scenes, the first of which shows a pre-enlistment chance encounter with a European soldier, the second a recruit’s attempt to escape, and the last a group portrait of the five recruits being professionally taken. 

 

In this work I am keen in thinking through the affect of the filmic gesture. Here, the film houses the concept of togetherness with commonality in vision. Grandeurs of heroism and fighting are intertwined with personal entanglements that the movie maps out in various ways where one can read the agenda that the film serves. From a recruit and his family being uncared for until the military was involved, to the too-apt assignment of military roles so each individual finds a purpose for a larger sense of belonging, the movie seems to tie these together in a ‘presentable’ package meant to inspire the British troops in Singapore at the time, nothing too dissimilar from local military-themed family-friendly movies today. To go beyond the rhetorics of the film, there is a need to engage with the affect film has, the messaging through scripted dialogues, and the use of lighting to create affective visual compositions.

 

The works are first drawn based on film stills of scenes with lines about collectivising. Through a range of techniques involving graphite, the final images are constructed by shading, scratching, erasure and line work before being translated into a projection on the site itself to mimic the screening of films. 

Commissioned by Plual Art Mag for Our HeARTlands project. Click on the heart on

the right to get to the microsite.