THE PRAYER Singapore | 2015 | video installation
This film is part of a video installation called The prayer, which is a work in progress.
The work asks about the nature of devotion; what are we devoted to and how do we express it? Intense devotion can feel or appear to be a kind of trance-like state, a release or outburst of passion that people express in different ways.
One means of expression is prayer, sometimes accompanied by devotees physically rocking back-and-forth, as can be observed among many faiths. The hypnotic repetition is a physiological mechanism that heightens concentration and helps induce shifts in consciousness.
The film explores a particular trance-like state focusing on one young boy's expressive journey as energies and emotions pass through him.
Playing out like an abstract painting in motion, "The prayer" is characterized by mantra-like repetition, disfiguration caused by movement, stroboscopic colour changes, altered speed and careful sound design.
Although the final gesture of the boy reminds us of the Flemish painter Hans Memling's portrait of a "Young Man at Prayer" (circa 1475), or perhaps of Joshua Reynolds' "The Infant Samuel" (circa 1776) with his expectant upward gaze, the boy's facial expression and his object of devotion could not be more different.
The prayer is conceived as a single channel video, with two sound showers. One farther away and one nearer to the projection. The soundscapes are different. Viewers may sit on the chairs disposed in a cross. Different seats have access to the different soundscapes or to no sound at all. The viewer seated nearest to the projection will hear one sound design, while viewers in the row behind will hear another and the two chairs behind will hear only murmurs or silence.