With a population of 5 million on an approximate land area of over 700 square kilometres and an estimated population density of 7,315 people per square kilometre, urban development is inevitable and land reclamation, demolition, and the depletion of open land spaces takes place constantly in Singapore. It seems that while these spaces were available, they were often taken for granted. Ming started appreciating these spaces more as he set out to capture them with his camera before they were slated for urban development.
He actually started working on this project when he noticed a patch of unused land near his home gradually becoming more developed and the surrounding area more constricted. At the same time, construction sites were constantly sprouting up around town, new developments were being launched regularly, and many places which he had frequented were quickly disappearing. One day, the possibility of having to vacate his lovely 30-year old apartment (if more than 80% of his neighbours agree to an en bloc sale) struck him. He had lived in that apartment for seven years and felt a strong sense of attachment to it and its surroundings. This sparked off a quest to hunt down empty plots of land remaining on this land-scarce city.
Ming chose to record the emotional aspects of the empty plots of land he photographed and what they represented to the people who frequently visited and utilised them in their daily lives. He was careful to capture all these shots from an elevated angle on his 3 metre-tall tripod and the results almost replicate our usual point of view from the ground while presenting an overview of the entire plot without looking like the landscape panoramas of glossy photography books.
By the year 2030, the island state expects to increase its population to 6.9 million. With such an unprecedented growth, property prices are expected to soar, thereby increasing the development of more unused plots of land. While urban development helps to create more living and working spaces for a growing nation, it also ironically robs us of spaces that are precious to many and held dear. With it, collective memories are erased from this land.
Plot is a documentary project about land spaces in Singapore. It is a photographic record of plots of open land that remain untouched in the republic. Many of these are plots already being canvassed and marked for development into public housing, hotels and commercial multiplexes. In a country that embraces changes for the nation’s economic progress, space – whether personal or physical – is sacrificed.
Venue: Esplanade, Waterfront
When: 10 Jul - 10 Aug 2015,