28 Aug 2022
Asnida Daud, spoken word artist-educator and Malay cultural activist, with Francois Antoine Saverias, Media Post-Production capstone project supervisor, introducing Lautan.
A group of Year 3 MPP students, who called themselves Cahaya Projectors, combined poetry, movement, and multimedia to put up a live performance called Lautan (which means ocean in Malay) to raise awareness of the forgotten Orang Laut (Malay for sea people) community in Singapore. The Orang Laut are indigenous to Singapore and believed to be Singapore's first inhabitants.
About 70 invited guests, including descendants of the Orang Laut and members of Singapore’s local arts scene, turned up at NP on 29 July for the show. Malay artist Asnida Daud’s poem Aok Diko (Yes, Of Course) was brought to life by innovative performances from dance company P7:1SMA, accompanied by projections, lighting and audio elements from Cahaya Projectors.
Through the multidisciplinary performance, the students hoped to spark conversations between descendants and non-descendants of the Orang Laut about Singapore’s sea people and the cultural loss of their communities.
Asnida Daud recites a poem about her memories of visiting the Pulau Sudong island as a girl, while P7:1SMA founders and dancers Norhaizad Adam (left) and Hasyimah Harith (right) encircle her.
Asnida Daud and P7:1SMA dancers stand before an animated projection of present-day Orang Laut descendants created by MPP students.
The audience looks on as historical photos of the Orang Laut are projected onto the large screen.
Year 3 MPP student Aqilah Mazromi said the team spent five months navigating the complex topic of indigenous stories by “being open to learning from the Orang Laut, as well as our industry partners on how to craft a good story and engage our audiences”.
They visited a small enclave at West Coast Park – where descendants of Orang Laut gather on weekends – to listen to stories first-hand about their former days on Pulau Semakau. To seamlessly unite elements of dance and poetry with projection mapping, they also studied P7:1SMA's style of dance, attended performances by Asnida Daud, and visited multiple exhibitions on projection mapping.
Video footages that the MPP students captured during their field visits at West Coast Park are projected onto the screen behind the live performers.
Esplanade programmer Shiraz Sallim, who attended the performance as an invited guest, said that the students and their choice of computer-generated effects brought a fresh perspective to the show.
He added: “Projection mapping is something the arts scene is recently exploring, and it’s great that NP students are at the forefront of being involved in such exposure.”