The Cloud of Unknowing, Ho Tzu Nyen, Singapore, 2011, single-channel HD video projection and 13-channel sound files.
Ho Tzu Nyen, born in 1976, is a Singaporean artist who works primarily in the medium of film and multi-media installations. The Cloud of Unknowing is an installation that was commissioned for the Singapore Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition. In this video installation, Ho takes as his central subject the cloud, and explores its symbolic and aesthetic representation across cultures, history and geography.
Shot within a block of public housing in Singapore, The Cloud of Unknowing revolves around eight characters and their encounters with a cloud or cloud-like figure. The Cloud of Unknowing portrays the characters in a moment of revelation, and here the reference made by the artwork's title is elucidated. The Cloud of Unknowing is also the title of a medieval text presumed to be written by a cloistered monk on the experience and trials of meditative contemplation upon the divine, where the cloud paradoxically represents both the moment of uncertainty and connection with divinity.
This is an extract from "The Singapore Story through 60 objects" written by Kennie Ting, Director, Asian Civilisations Museum and Peranakan Museum & Group Director of Museums, National Heritage Board. This article was first published in Cultural Connections Volume IV 2019 by Culture Academy Singapore.