Desire Lines — Unlocking Memories And Inspiring Artistic Collaborations

A chance to rethink human collaboration and even kickstart your artistic projects. Project Kinaesthesia presents us with dance film Desire Lines to be inspired and think back to our childhood days.

“To move like no one has and move others while doing so.”
Project Kinaesthesia

Touché. If you were as fortunate as us to have attended one of the Desire Lines sessions, you probably would have agreed with and witnessed Project Kinaesthesia’s promise — free and fluid movement, thought-provoking scenes, inspired collaboration, and lots of art in different disciplines.

Courtesy of Project Kinaesthesia (@projectkinaesthesia)

Desire Lines is the brainchild of Project Kinaesthesia, which is a series of creative projects that encourages collaborations across different disciplines of art.

This first-of-its-kind artist workshop experience was supported by the National Arts Council and Artwave Studio with venue support from PLAYInc.

In a 100-minute session, artists of all disciplines were invited to question and challenge the boundaries of cross-disciplinary creative collaboration right here on our bustling island (of possibilities).

Taken by Dreamfellas Asia

Subastian, founder of Project Kinaesthesia and director of Desire Lines, endearingly coined their latest project as “a mad scientist brainstorming session with creatives of all disciplines”. It urges us to think deeper and that “we’re not as boring as we think we are”.

Introduction and pre-screening of Desire Lines

Taken by Dreamfellas

We were greeted first with an exhibition that’s split into three sections — one for each Desire Lines short film — with activities we could partake in like crafting your own (desire) lines with wires and beads, sort of like what you’d have in an art festival’s fringe activity.

Taken by Dreamfellas Asia

Coupled with the start of the session, where Subastian introduced each of his team members and creatives, were melodic, head-bopping tunes from local band Altoduo (Winifred Tan and John Paul Kwan).

We were also pleasantly surprised by accompanying solos from each Desire Lines team member who freestyled to Altoduo’s music.

Taken by Dreamfellas Asia

And starting off the chain of workshop activities was a Bingo game tailored to the project with questions that will help us get to know our fellow attendants better.

Taken by Dreamfellas Asia

Following that was a Q&A where we got to learn about the project’s processes, hear the team’s perspectives, and bites of insights on street dance in Singapore.

Desire Lines preview screening

If you’ve been keeping up with us, you’ll know that we absolutely adore dance films that combine everything from ingenious dance and great music to stunning cinematography altogether. Desire Lines was no exception.

Shot by DoP Sean Lim Zie from multi-media production playpunk and edited by Chong Ya Hui, the three films serve as a brilliant collaboration between dancers Rachel, Madhu, and Daphne, musicians Altoduo, mixing engineer Raf Soundwalker, illustrator Fiona Ting, and documenter Ning Poh.

Courtesy of Project Kinaesthesia

Over the course of six months, the team (led by director Subastian and project manager Genevieve Ho) crafted short films that trace the memories we leave in different spaces around Singapore.

Film stills from ‘Desire Lines’. Courtesy of Project Kinaesthesia

Linked seamlessly from one story to another, the short films came together well and supported each other although each was a narrative of its own that illustrated a story of each dancer.

What was excellent and intriguing was how the films were relatable, not just for dancers, but for all.

Imploring us to dig deeper into our inner voices, as we watched the films unfold we think about where we are at in life, our current state of mind, and how we’re never alone.

Film stills from ‘Desire Lines’. Courtesy of Project Kinaesthesia

Project Kinaesthesia is borne by a need to create and a realisation that all art forms are beautifully intertwined. The team believes that the act of creating fulfils a basic human need. We can’t help but agree with that!

“As artists find their footing after being physically isolated during the pandemic, the idea for Desire Lines arose as a response to how people might rethink human collaboration and connection moving forward,” shared Project Kinaesthesia.

Film stills from ‘Desire Lines’. Courtesy of Project Kinaesthesia

There were no boundaries. One attendant mused and reflected on how the films got them to “empathise with how inner self is portrayed through the body”.

Film stills from ‘Desire Lines’. Courtesy of Project Kinaesthesia

Based mainly on improvisational dancing that borders on experimental as well, each dancer portrayed their thoughts and emotions artistically; changing movements along the way, paired with subtext and animated illustrations to frame the storyline better.

Interesting and stirring, to say the least, the three films promote wanting autonomy — freedom of choice and control over our own lives, especially during times of change and hardship.

Film stills from ‘Desire Lines’. Courtesy of Project Kinaesthesia

We’re also immersed and motivated to search our minds, tracing back to our childhood times, and relooking at memories we hold dear to our hearts that may or may not have been locked or forgotten.

Post-film screening activity and discussion

As honoured, we were presented with a holistic approach and session for us to question or discover new ways of creating together; kickstart a myriad of multidisciplinary projects.

Taken by Dreamfellas Asia

It was a way to let our creativity soar in a safe space where all ideas are welcomed.

We were part of the experience and invited to “play” with the team by creating scenarios with our bodies and racking our brains for potential projects.

Taken by Dreamfellas Asia

A bunch of inspired individuals, all creatives of their own disciplines, come together after being heartened by the films. You never know what that may spark!

So as a group, what would you create together?


Film stills from ‘Desire Lines’. Courtesy of Project Kinaesthesia

To further understand the project and films, we spoke with Subastian himself about some burning questions we had ourselves!

Dreamfellas: Why were the project and films named ‘Desire Lines’?

Subastian: The main inspiration was from this concept called ‘Desire Path’. It’s an unplanned path that is carved when, you know, pedestrians frequently cut across grass till it becomes an entire path of its own.

For me, that’s how we leave imprints on the environment around us like the way we use the playground, the way we use the overhead bridge and more.

Film stills from ‘Desire Lines’. Courtesy of Project Kinaesthesia

Let’s say I go to the beach. If I’ve been there before, I’ll imagine or replay those scenes in my head of my memories there. Same for someone else, they might have been to the same beach or used my [the same] playground. We may share a memory without knowing it.

So from there, when I talk about ‘desire lines’ it’s referring to how these are the lines that connect all of us. And I think that’s just very human and beautiful to talk about.

Film stills from ‘Desire Lines’. Courtesy of Project Kinaesthesia

DFL: What about the cast? Were the dancers picked intentionally? How did you decide on who to carry the films and tell their stories?

Subastian: Typically, for Kinaesthesia, I do pick the dancers specifically. It’s really based on where they are at in their artistic journey.

For instance, in the process, you go in not knowing what everyone is working towards and sometimes you end up not even dancing much. It’s not something that everyone is comfortable with and some might not be ready for at certain points of their dance journey.

So it’s a lot of vibes, energy, that kind of thing. I reached out specifically to Madhu and Rachel first, then I felt like I needed one more person to complete it. That’s when I had an open call — the first time I did an open call too — where I talked to a few different people and settled on working with Daphne.

Film stills from ‘Desire Lines’. Courtesy of Project Kinaesthesia

DFL: You probably had to have a lot of deep talks with the dancers to understand their journey and what the team can dive into, right?

Subastian: Correct, the first few meetings weren’t much of rehearsals. It was a lot of talking about what they felt, the places they felt they left an impression on, and when that happened.

We’d go to these places and we don’t even start dancing yet, just talked about the whole story. Then we’d break it down and distil what they felt about each part of the story. So it’s a lot of these layers that we try to uncover.

Film stills from ‘Desire Lines’. Courtesy of Project Kinaesthesia

About Project Kinaesthesia

Founded by dancer and artist Subastian Tan in 2020, Project Kinaesthesia is a series of creative projects sparked by ‘what if’ collaborative scenarios across different art disciplines.

Over the past three years, it has been an emerging presence in the local arts scene. And through three successful film projects and a series of ad-hoc initiatives, local creatives from vastly diverse communities and backgrounds were brought together to experience unique collaboration processes.

Courtesy of Project Kinaesthesia

Credits

Director: Subastian Tan (@mushroomsub)
Project Manager: Genevieve Ho (@gengengenho)
Dancers: Daphne Tang (@deathtango), Madhu Nisa (@madhu_nisa), Racheezels (@racheezels)
Director of Photography: Sean Lim Zie (@playpunk_)
Editor: Chong Ya Hui (@yasdfghui)
Music Composers: Altoduo – Winifred Tan (@tinywiniondrums), John Paul Kwan (@jpkwan_bass)
Performed by: Altoduo (@altoduo.sg)
Mixing Engineer: Raf Soundwalker (@anadigisoundlab)
Illustrator: Fiona Ting (@artbyfarmer)
Documenter: Ning Poh (@n1n.9)
Supported by: Artwave Studio (@artwave.studio)

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Although the films aren’t shared with the public currently, you can browse Project Kinaesthesia’s Instagram page for behind-the-scenes footage and exclusive interviews done with the starring dancers of each film.

Be sure to give their page a follow and join their telegram channel too so you’ll be in the loop once the films are out!

For more dance reads, click here.

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