Inspired By Wes Anderson, This Charming Film Is An Ode To Singapore Architecture
STORY: Sim Ding En
23 October 2021
Do perfectly symmetrical images, centralised fonts and uniform patterns shout (or rather whisper) "ASMR heaven" to you, and give you a sense that all is right with the world?
If your answer is a qualified "YAS!", then you'll most likely appreciate the visual artistry of American filmmaker Wes Anderson and the cinemotagraphic stylings of his Director of Photography and frequent collaborator Robert Yeoman, much like local filmmaker and photographer Kevin Siyuan does.
For the past year or so, the 32-year-old has been working on a film as an "ode to the built environment of Singapore, the place I call home".
Here is his pièce de résistance, a 30-minuted documentary unashamedly titled "A Wes Anderson-ish Singapore":
According to the YouTube description of the video, the visual, musical and scripting references have been "drawn from Wes's signature works such as 'The Grand Budapest Hotel', 'The Life Aquatic by Steve Zissou', 'Moonrise Kingdom' as well as the upcoming 'The French Dispatch'".
Showcased as part of the Singapore Archifest 2021 exhibition "Singapore Through My Eyes", the documentary also features a soundtrack that includes charming renditions (both vocal and instrumental) of local songs like "Di Tanjong Katong", "Singapore Town" and "Home".
Wes Anderson fans will probably be able to identify the iconic centralised framing and the idiosyncratic treatment of font (centre justified, of course), and even the distinct red beanie used in "The Life Aquatic".
The genesis of this architectural study? Writes Kevin in the YouTube description: "It all began from a single video: Singapore Town, exactly a year ago and perhaps you may have already seen some of the previous videos, these have now become individual chapters of the short film."
He adds: "I hope to show you my journey over time, and also to present everything together as a coherent piece of work, hope you would enjoy the little trips and when it is safe to visit Singapore again, hope you would consider visiting these places."
The reticent, media-shy Kevin declined an interview, and understandably so. Sometimes, as kaypoh audiences and journalists, we ask too many questions, demand too much of an explanation from the artist, deconstruct and take the work apart until it all but loses its form, meaning and beauty.
Writes Kevin in an email to us: "If I do too many of these [interviews], I feel it would distort the balance and undermine my original intention of content creation. I try to stay off screen as much as possible, I just hope through my work [that] my audience will become more appreciative of the built environment they live in (or for global audiences, to help them better visualise Singapore's urban planning initiatives), and subsequently, be more appreciative of the people within the industry who shaped the environment - from urban planners, architects to construction workers."
Ultimately, Kevin's wish is that the documentary serves as a way of appreciating the locales featured: "I hope at the end of the day people remember the places I have featured instead of me as a person."
REDISCOVER SINGAPORE THE WONDERWALL.SG WAY
1. "Adventures At Home" series
Are you on quest to explore our neighbourhoods and learn about Singapore's past at the same time? Check out our "Adventures At Home" series, where we guide you through the National Heritage Board's numerous Heritage Trails, that help you see towns like Hougang, Pasir Ris, and Sembawang in a new light.
2. "10,000 Steps With Tosh" series
Local actor and musician Tosh Zhang brings you on routes around Singapore that help you discover new things about our sunny island. In each episode of "10,000 Steps With Tosh", our host is joined by different walking kakis who uncover hidden gems around the neighbourhood - all in our daily recommended 10,000 steps.