by TK Sabapathy


Chng Nai Wee has, over the past decade, woven intricate relationships between technology and artistic creativity in ways that are continually redefined. A self-taught artist, he has employed technology to examine and extend prevailing definition of artistic media and categories; in developing his interests, he has also unveiled a repertoire of imagery that is refreshing and engaging. Of course the connection between art and technology is not new; contrary to popular opinion that the two are antithetical to one another, technology and art have mutually reinforced one another in the human endeavour to expand the horizons of fabrication and designing.

It might be strange to encounter terms such as fabrication and design in a discussion of a creative artist. Yet these terms fundamentally underline and drive creativity. Taken together, they point to means by which we order our surroundings, shaping or re-shaping materials to suit our needs, purposes, and aspirations. Both design and fabrication express human (including artistic) intention, desires and hopes.

Chng's most recent exhibition, which he titled Biotechnics and presented at the Substation in 1998 exemplifies the shaping force of design and fabrication. Using approaches from practice of medicine, expanding upon the language of imaging in medicine and biology, and employing discarded objects as materials, Chng produced a number of large works; they crystallise interests and conditions which are vital to some of the ways we define and picture the state of being human; they also jolt us into realizing, even recognising, processes or systems by which the human being is mechanised.

Chng Nai Wee's art is characterised by inventiveness and imagination. It is also imbued with forcefulness and purpose. In encountering his works, we dwell on the methods employed in making and are engrossed in the process of transformation. In encountering his works we also enter into prolonged dialogues on matters concerning human aspirations, desires, and destinations.