Born 1973 in Singapore Lives and works in Singapore
Singaporean artist, professional sailor and former Olympian Charles Lim works across the mediums of performance, drawing, photography, film and video, creating artworks that combine his love of the ocean with a deep concern for the environment and the natural world. Informed by extensive field research and experimentation, Lim engages in an investigative artistic practice through which he seeks to understand and interpret the myriad of ways in which artificial infrastructures, often driven by the politics of economic expansion, can impact and transform the maritime environment.
In 2001, Lim cofounded media art collective tsunami.net, creating a series of works that examined themes surrounding global connectivity using GPS technology to indicate a location on both physical and virtual planes simultaneously, bridging the indefinable zone in which the digital and the real coincide. From 2005 to 2015, Lim developed Sea State, a series of nine projects created with the intention of exploring the complex relationships between sea and land in the island city-state of Singapore. Borrowing both name and structure from the World Meteorological Organization’s code for measuring the condition of the ocean, Sea State is an investigation of the global debate around climate change, use of resources and transnational borders, with Singapore at its centre.
Continuing his interest in the distribution of global resources across international territories and the intersection between the physical and the virtual, Lim presents silent clap of the status quo, 2016, at the Embassy for Disappearance. As Lim has stated: ‘The sea within our cultural imagination has been endlessly depicted as unoccupiable – commonly expressed through the phrase ‘high seas’ – a zone that is thought to be free from the control of any individual nation or state. Article 112 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea states that “All States are entitled to lay submarine cables on bed of high seas”. 99% of the world’s internet and international communications runs through cables laid at the bottom of oceans and seas. Deep within the archives of parties involved in these endeavours sits a collection of ‘inspection videos’ of cables covering the length of these networks.’
Engaging with the politics of space in a rapidly changing world, Lim’s three-channel digital video explores the depths of the ocean, displaying excerpts from thousands of hours of footage filmed during the installation and repair of a vast network of undersea telecommunications cables. In the murky half-light the camera traces along the paths of twisting lines that traverse vast distances between continents to facilitate global connectivity; the physical links that expedite the exchange of data and information throughout the virtual world.
Charles Lim’s selected solo presentations include ‘SEA STATE’, Singapore Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale (2015); and ‘In Search of Raffles’ Light’, NX Gallery, National University of Singapore, Singapore (2013). The artist’s selected group exhibitions include ‘Moving Images’, M+, Hong Kong (2015); ‘Visions and Beyond’, 2nd Shenzhen Independent Animation Biennial (2014); and ‘The Part In The Story Where A Part Becomes A Part Of Something Else’, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2014).