By Joana Schertenleib
When the black painted tram arrives visitors were already waiting. On the first floor instructions were given by two young women. Windows were covered with a dark brown film allowing light to shine in only through clear clippings of text. We have boarded the mobile artwork: Kingsley Ng’s Twenty-Five Minutes Older.
Text on the windows explained the stories behind the different layers of this transmedia work. The first clear patch of text describes the work’s first layer; a sound installation we listened to later that was based on snippets out of author Lau Yee Cheung’s well-known novel Tête-bêche. The second layer was the title itself, a reference to the 1978 Latvian black-and-white documentary by Herz Frank’s Ten Minutes Older, which was on the emotional journey of a group of children watching a 10-minute short film. The third layer dominated the entire upper level of the tram by using camera obscura, which turned the whole interior into a moving screen.
We climbed to the second floor and the mood became dreamlike. Windows were sealed on the upper floor, only two benches on the sides of the tram were illuminated. Splitting us into two groups, we decided which of the two audio lines to listen to before taking a seat. As soon as the headphones went on, the light dimmed and the journey began.
Music took us by the hand into the darkness and projections slowly appeared. Turned upside down through the camera obscura’s lens, the outside street scenes flickered on the inside walls. Using a simple visual setup, light entered the enclosed environment through an aperture and was cast, inverted, onto the inner surface. Lights appeared in the viewer’s mind like vague, forgotten memories coming through the shadows. Together with the soft rocking of the tram and the quietly spoken story fragments we were lulled.
Surprised when the lights suddenly came on again, as quickly as a dream disappeared, this sensory experience was over.
Photos: courtesy of Art Basel