2272 Open Report II, Space Oddities

Contraband E-scooter tyre marks on MDF Plywood (Repeated Infinity Signs), filling up the length of the Gallery Space.

A Dance of sorts in 2 parts - marks are created in sync, repeatedly by artist and e-scooter rider Paul Tan. A (dis)continuous loop.

2272 Open Report at Space Oddities, 2019
Installation View, Strobe Lights, Publication Text and Videos

2272 situates itself in the intersection between underground culture and the streets—in both a literal sense as well as the invisible forces and infrastructures that regulate them. A simple google search for ‘PMD’ or ‘e-scooter Singapore’ births a national saga of chaos and cleansing; carnage in the form of PMD accident victims and battery fires, clampdowns through the poetry of hashtags and acronyms: #WeAreWatchingYou, LTA, SMRT, SPF, AMA. Since early 2017, starting with the Active Mobility Act, the government has rolled out measure upon measure to curb the burgeoning PMD community in Singapore. But rather than acting as a rejection of or statement against these forces, 2272 Open Report navigates states of inclusion and exclusion, through the ways in which a subculture marks its spaces and territoriality.

Through an installation incorporating the media of sound, video, text, and abstract calligraphic infinity symbols painted in burnt e-scooter-tyre rubber, Zhiyi’s work enacts forms of ‘aspirational narratives’ as the means to self-expression and assertion amidst, or because of, these larger corralling structures. From trademark techno music and sirens signaling that a PMD rider is near, to infinity burnouts, and a faint whiff of burning rubber, these trace elements and signifiers in the work establish how individual territoriality is made and marked, and beyond that, collectivised as a subculture.

In its forms as online publication and physical art installation, 2272 Open Report is both aspirational and dystopian. In the publication, Zhiyi invokes the phenomenon of zhng, used colloquially to mean ‘modify or upgrade, often excessively’, to highlight global cultural behaviours of self-enhancement as a means to self-expression. Self-enhancement here occurs not on the body, but on one’s machinic prosthesis, such as vehicles and gadgets. In the context of Singapore, where the e-scooter community is largely considered a public menace, and increasingly subject to new clampdown laws, the—individual and communal—assertion of zhng becomes a flexing of the brute desire for power and attention.

Through the consolidated traces and signals of citizen vigilantism and youth exhibitionism, the ongoing work gestures to the tenuous spaces between one’s right to autonomy and the shrinking parameters of civil order. With each physical document, perhaps each attached to a different city and motor-aspirational subculture, the expanding publication becomes a sort of fragmented manifesto for disaffected self- assertion. In this way, the format of a report as living myth and document is fundamental to the core of the work, as an ever-evolving collectivisation of individual empowerment, subcultural behaviour, and the inescapable substructure that undergirds it all.

- Words by Valerie Ann-Tan

Presented at The Substation, Singapore
A Public Square Opening Exhibition