Into Air (2020-present) is a moving body of work, which breathes color, materiality, and longing into the temporality of time. What started out for Dawn Ng as a study of the passage of time through an ephemeral object that is ice, grew into an obsession with tracing the dystrophy of large blocks of frozen pigment. Ice is the perfect material in Singapore’s tropical climate because it cannot last. Its journey from solid, liquid to air, maps time from monumentality to nothingness. This rigorous process of creation and death across more than a hundred blocks over the past 4 years, crystallises in an arresting body of work that spans 3 cycles: A series of photographs titled Clocks, paintings titled Ash, and timelapse films, titled Time Lost Falling in Love.
Clocks are large photo portraits of ice pigment blocks in disintegration. Each block, created day by day, layer by layer - takes over a month to form a meteorite of hues consisting of acrylics, inks, and dyes. Once exposed, each block is meticulously captured at specific angles every 4 hours until they vanish. These massive fossils of frozen color stand as an arresting visual solidification of time in color, shape , and form.
Ash is a series of residue paintings, created by the maneuvered staining, dredging, and evaporation of melted pigment through paper. In the final stage of each frozen block’s ‘return to air’, over 50 liters of melted pigment is collected in vats. The acrylic film that Ng twists, pleats, and weaves, replaces traditional paint brushes, in guiding the melted paint to form reservoirs and intricate tributaries, allowing pigments to coagulate and bloom across paper in a vast tray. The long steeping allows paper fibers to fray, so parts of its surface are further peeled back by hand to reveal the patina of time once dry.
Time Lost Falling in Love is a series of time-lapse films, documenting the hypnotic collapse of large blocks of frozen pigment over 18 hours. Post-production, the recordings are edited frame by frame and compressed to a meditative pace. The languid collapse of rich pigments in the film mirrors the cathartic release of a waterfall in slow motion, suspending time between oneself and a moving image, and in the ever-present.
Emerging from a period when the world came to a pause, Into Air is a timely meditation on the hours, minutes, and seconds that make up our lives. It is a true work of remembrance and an ode to the truth that the most beautiful things in this world are the ones that cannot stay.
Sullivan+Strumpf acknowledge the Indigenous People of this land, the traditional custodians on whose Country we work, live and learn. We pay respect to Elders, past and present, and recognise their continued connection to culture, land, waters and community.