The return of the blob

The Straits Times, May 27, 2000

By Tan Shze Ee


Science textbooks pay tribute to it mind bloggling diagrams of tetrahedrals.

And just when you thought the humble molecule has served its last as pure visual fodder, along comes artist Chng Nai Wee to bring it back to life.

His latest artwork comprises three pieces of acrylic installations nestling in the courtyard of Sculpture Square.

It is appropriately named Moleculux and draws upon the structural attributes of the basic chemistry building blocks for inspiration.

"I have always been interested in the intricate engineering structural of molecules: says Chng, 33, who is an eye-surgeon by profession.

The work in question stakes its open-air pedestal with flickering energy, as expressed through giant strands and permutations of interlinked red and green "blobs" lit from within by multi-colored bulbs.

While there is rigidity in the repetitive pattern of the work's individual building blocks, there is also sensuality in its curves, and a built-in sense of "static" movement in the snake-like shape."

"I wouldn't say it was science meeting art here," says Chng.

"But I hope that through my work, artists will be able to look into the world of science with new eyes, and vice versa."

The work's coloring and structural features change subtly over the course of the day according to the lighting conditions.

Chng says:" I like to view the installation when it is dark, when the light fixtures within the structure itself can be better seen."

"Because I am working with different colored lights and acrylic blocks of red and green, which reflect against each other according to the different times of the day, the result is mysterious for the viewer."

His installation has attracted not only gallery regulars who frequent Sculpture Square, but also those in cars passing through the Waterloo Street area. I think the instinct of most people is to go up and touch the work, since it is set up outdoors," he says.

"But if someone who's riding on a bus cataches a glimpse and becomes pleasantly surprised, I will also be delighted."