Dualities and hybrid dualities — a study of Singaporean photographic environment art
Climate change has become noticeable and is a global emergency. Warming oceans, disappearing ice caps, global warming, ozone depletion, extinction and other disasters caused by humans are greatly accelerating the planet past its self-sustainable capacity. This heralds the next mass extinction if the mass extinction has not already been taking place. Looking into this duality of life and death, environment artists educate and voice their concerns through artistic practice based on scientific research and knowledge to convince society and the world of possible mitigating factors and the ever-growing necessity to combat climate change in betterment of humankind. Singapore, being an island city of small land mass, is at a high risk of losing its natural heritage to increasing global temperature, rising sea levels and transboundary ecological hazards. As Singapore’s change is rapid, and constant rebuilding and reconstruction is in progress, much of our natural landscape has deteriorated akin to a fading memory. Photography practitioners in the field of environment art challenges these fading memories by documenting mnemonic imprints of the past and combining interdisciplinary practice in visualising climate threats which are not immediately visual, to wish for a cleaner and better future. This thesis will study the philosophical reasoning behind dualities in naturalism and the innate desire for conservation, and at dualities and subsequent hybrid dualities in environment artworks produced by five artists who are currently practicing and use photography as a primary medium. These artists are Ang Song Nian (b.1983), Robert Zhao Renhui (b.1983), Zen Teh (b.1988) and Jasvic Lye (b.1993).