Briefly describe the work you do.
“If you can be whoever you want to be, if you can do whatever you want to do, if there are no limits – What is your dream?”
Our art is an anthology of answers to the above question, presented through photos, videos, and interactive public art pieces. Whilst most people would associate art with communicating a message through expression, we differentiate our works in their intentions to “listen”.
In this unique “listening” process, both subjects and viewers are listening to what others have to say. But more importantly, they inevitably listen to their own innermost feelings. And in recognizing another’s possibility possibly as one’s own, we hope that every participant involved realizes – their dreams can become their realities.
Once in a while we stumble upon a story that forever changes our lives and transforms the way we perceive, relate and live. As artists, we seek to be graceful channels that allow these stories to be told effortlessly through our films, photos and installation pieces. Every piece of art we create, each story we tell, we intend it to be an opening, a mirror – from which the viewer recognizes oneself. It is our greatest hopes that through contemplating on one’s observations, the viewer evolves.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
Val: Being brought up by my Grandmother has taught me the importance of intentions: Always remembering why I do what I do; and having that drive everything else I create.
Tay: Growing up in Singapore where the media plays a huge role in shaping the country’s political, social, cultural and economical landscape, I recognized its power quickly. This recognition that the media can shape thoughts, perspective and impact lives has always reminded me to create art that will inspire others and make positive impacts to our world.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
Tay: I am a traveling film maker/storyteller. The world is my studio. Human beings are the subjects of my art, therefore every interaction with them is an opportunity for creation. And then these creations return to the community in a form of a film. I am the medium through which one human being’s story inspires another. So, being in this “world studio” seemed to have unlimited the space constraints of the traditional notions of “being in the studio”. In my unlimited “world studio”, I seemed to have broaden my perspective on what I can create and how I can create them.
Val: I agree with Tay on the above. In addition, beside using the world as my canvas, I also value the traditional notions of “being in the studio”. “Being in the studio” means being in a space where I can be with myself, and my work. It is a practice of self-awareness in that alone time. That is when I make sense of the interaction I have had, integrate the experiences and then turn them into meaningful creations for my audience. Mindfulness and meditation are instrumental in my studio.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
Val: The role of creating and holding safe space for each individual to share their authentic self. The role of allowing myself to be seen so that others can see possibilities for themselves.
Tay: I never envisioned myself to come out from behind the camera to become the ‘subject’ of my films. I never thought that I would one day be sharing my personal stories as a source of inspiration for others.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
Val: For me, there is no “best” time to make art. I just have to be present and show up at every opportunity. I make a choice to be present so that I can recognize these windows of creativity and make good use of it to create my art.
Tay: I am creating art every moment. I am constantly thinking about new ideas, looking out for great subjects, sharing my films with others, talking about it, etc. It has become a way of life just like drinking, eating and sleeping.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
Val: I have always been a performer. The last five years, I have begun to work behind the lens as well. The intention has remained the same: To evoke, mirror and inspire through my art.
Tay: I used to only work in traditional television media. The last five years, my world has exploded into mixed media – live oral storytelling, digital videos, photographs, illustrations, animation, films and online social media. My intentions have never changed: to tell stories of love, life and hope.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
Val: The people around me, the things they do, the environment, everything brings inspiration to my creations. The one thing that has impacted and defined all of my works is the endeavor to stay true to myself, regardless of the form or expression of the work.
Tay: Val has been and still is a huge impact on the work I do. She constantly challenges me to put out works that brings out the best of me. She constantly challenges me to tell a better story.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
Val: To me, an artist’s job is to create. And every occupation requires you to create – there is art involved in every job (at least to me). Therefore, there is no occupation outside of being an artist.
Tay: If I am not an artist, I will be a mum. Because it is a role that nurtures and inspires the next generation to be the best of who they can be.
Multiple-award-winning film-makers, inspirational storytellers and invited TEDx speakers Tay and Val, are living examples of dreamers who left Singapore in March 2010 and cycled and travelled across the globe on project www.ibelievethatdreamscancometrue.com.
With the intention “One Dream Shared, Millions Inspired”, their multimedia storytelling exhibit has engaged countless people at hundreds of events, and each person inspired and empowered – to do the things they truly want to do and be the person they truly want to be. Some of their accolades include the New York Festivals Gold award, CINE Golden Eagle award and the Webby Awards (Oscars for the internet).
Committed to reaching all 50 States of the USA, the duo is working to inspire others to pursue their passion and follow their dreams through a multimedia book, full length documentary, workshops and public speaking; but really, they want to create a global movement of dreams inspiring dreams…and YOU are invited to be part of it: #mydreamis
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.