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  • Tanglin Halt 46 Commonwealth Drive Singapore, 143046 Singapore (map)

Tanglin Halt was one of the first public housing development estates in Singapore and runs along part of the former Malaysia railtracks in Southwest Singapore. The railtracks themselves date from the British colonial period and for many decades comprised a major link between Singapore and Malaysia. 

An approximately five-metre ribbon of land on either side of the tracks, as well as the railway itself, was owned by the Malaysian state until 2011. This five-metre strip of indeterminate governance, running through Singapore's city centre, enabled human and non-human activities, ranging from the informal to the feral. A Migrant Ecologies Project pathway through this troubled nexus of urbanity and nature explored existing relations between humans and birds along the tracks. 

Our research, compiled over years of listening to birds and developing conversations with humans, reveals a rich seam of interspecies communications, projections, memories and songs. Together with the Nature Society of Singapore Bird Group we at the same time compiled a list of over 105 species of birds, resonating from what might appear on the surface to be an unremarkable patch of degraded, urban scrub.

The stories we have collected are derived from observations and interviews with residents and other “stakeholders”, including NGOs and rail corridor walkers, as well as stories collected during drama and sound workshops in neighbourhood schools. Some stories contradict each other. We have interviewed bird poachers and caged bird lovers, as well as biologists and nature activists. We neither passed judgments nor resolved ostensible contradictions. Rather, our project recounts a vibrant ecology of various perspectives. They morph in and out of each other like shifting shadows of leaves and sunlight, interspersed with the calls of birds.

In an interplay of sound, image-storytelling and shadow, the media is led by these bird calls, but the actual birds are never completely in view. There is a gentle play with representative tropes from natural history and competitive bird photography in the approach, which also continues an exploration by the Migrant Ecologies of on-and-offline shadow-worldings and stop-motion film. 

A public talk featuring writers Cyril Wong, Alfian Sa'at and Yu-mei Balasingamchow will take place on 14 Apr, 3pm–5pm. For more details, click on the event link provided below.

VENUE: Tanglin Halt
ADDRESS: 46-3 Commonwealth Drive, #01-384, Singapore 140463

14 Apr 2018, 3pm–5pm