Dawn Ng: Disappearance into a Variegated Rainbow
Posted on July 18, 2016
How to Disappear into a Rainbow is multimedia artist Dawn Ng’s installation by way of colour portals. The new Aloft at Hermès is transported into a kaleidoscopic labyrinth of shades, comprised of daybreak hues and juxtapositions of pastel blocks and mirror panels. In this interview, the author taps into the artist’s view of what meaningful aspects of identity and culture could be derived out disappearing into this sea of colour palette.
Prior to this exploration of a variegated rainbow labyrinth, Dawn had embarked on other studies of colour, emotion, nostalgia and identity.
How have these experimentations in Colour changed over time?
The palette in my work is often reflective of the pervasive mood and tenor unique to the current point of time in my life.
When did your exploration for Colour begin and why has it been of such interest to you? Was there anything you had set out to achieve in the explorations of Colour?
The colours were derived from a spectrum of daybreak hues. I wanted to create an abstract sense of moving through the soft pastel colour planes of an early horizon — that child-like, ephemeral place between sleep and consciousness. The colour portals represent different passageways or doors, and their symbolic and psychological ability to usher a person from one place, time, or self, to the next.
There is no pedantic takeaway message. I believe the more people think, the less they feel, and the less they are able to just be. I wanted to take people out of their everyday realities and immerse them in a surreal landscape of colour, in which they can simply get lost. Getting lost is a meditative and cathartic act. No one gets lost anymore. It’s impossible with the technology we have in this day and age. I think to encounter and engage with something we are not sure of is a beautiful thing, to go through that naïve sense of exploration brings us back to being a child again.
In choosing the rainbow to represent possibilities in horizons, were there imagined portals or realities you had in mind?
The colour portals represent different passageways or doors, and their symbolic and psychological ability to usher a person from one place, time, or self, to the next.
Do you know that apparently human beings can see up to 2.8 million colours even if we don’t have the vocabulary to describe each of them? I believe we possess the same magnitude of emotions in the human psyche. Each of us can feel every millionth shade of a rainbow even if we can’t quite find the words to express it.
What kinds of discoveries would you ideally hope for viewers to experience through the meanderings in Colour?
How to Disappear into a Rainbow is about a journey, hence the work for me had to physically incite movement on the part of the otherwise passive viewer. Depending on how or where a viewer enters the work, his or her route, pace, curiosity and emotional state, the work would permutate and unfold in a way specific to him or her. In that way, no two experiences are the same, and each person truly does find himself or herself through the process.
Were there challenges in putting up this soft pastel-hued exhibition? What were some of these challenges?
Aloft takes up the top floor L-shaped open atrium of the Singapore Hermes flagship. The challenge was to create an installation that could contextually cocoon its audience and exist as a world within itself, even though it was part of a store.
Watch an archived video where Dawn talks about the artist experience at a talk she gave at CreativeMornings Singapore back in 2013.
How to Disappear into a Rainbow is on exhibit at Aloft at Hermès, 541 Orchard Road, Liat Towers until 14 August 2016, 10.30am to 8pm daily with free admission.