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The Future of Our Pasts Festival: Taking A Trip Down Memory Lane

What's in a country, that with any other memories, would smell as sweet?

Being Singapore's bicentennial year, it might seem that everyone everywhere is talking about local heritage, history, culture. What's so important, you might ask? History is boring, you might think. Well, the Future of Our Pasts Festival (TFOOPFest) seeks to correct that stereotype: it aims to make history more accessible and relatable to all, and encourages audiences to connect with the past through lesser-known narratives and various art mediums.

From 16 February - 17 March, head on down to check out the 11 different projects by young local artists and advocates, and find your future in the narratives of our past. We spoke to some of the project creators on their thoughts about history, Singapore, and what led them to create their finished projects, and here is what they have to say!

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2. Understand more about the JC school mergers with Merged

Photo: The Future of Our Pasts Festival

The JC mergers were the talk of the town when they were announced – and Merged, as its name suggests, explores what happens when your school merges. An interactive documentary on Singapore’s biggest school merger, this project also focuses on Singapore’s changing social and educational landscapes. Click here for more information.

1. Why did you choose to focus on the JC mergers for your project?
The merger this time round was one of Singapore’s biggest school mergers and the first time JCs are being merged. We wanted to document Singapore’s evolving outlook on space and diminishing collective spaces in a very authentic, but also positive tone. We wondered about who this merger might impact, which drove us to look deeper and explore the perspective of different stakeholders (from students to even the custodians of the space). Also, Kai Yuan (the director) is a TPJC alumnus and had a personal connection to the topic and the college. It also sort of served as catharsis for him to express and manage his feelings about the closure of his alma mater.

2. Some of the themes your project explores are identity and community, as a result of the loss of physical space. How would you like the audience to view that in light of Singapore’s ever-changing cityscape?
We’d love for this interactive documentary to be a reflective moment for the audiences. Which is also why there are several interactive elements where the viewer can contribute thoughts, etc. Something interesting that happened during our interview and pre-production process – We noticed that for some, only when the authorities announced the school merger, that very feeling of loss starts to develop and their previously nonexistent identity starts to emerge. We asked ourselves, “Why?”
We had long discussions about this and have conflicting thoughts. We think that it’ll be something for the audiences to interpret and reflect on as well.

3. You are also co-founders of Our Grandfather Story, a digital journal that seeks to document authentic Singaporean stories. How was creating this project different from that of Our Grandfather Story?
At OGS, the stories we like to tell are often journalistic micro-documentaries and published on social-media. The way people watch them is very “one-way”, for merged is more “two-way” and interactive. The project has web-interactive elements, 360 videos, still images, some textual copy. I think we tried to use whatever medium or content type that suit the story best. The documentaries for this project has a different mood/tone to it; we shot it with a ‘film’ philosophy rather than like a multimedia journalist. Also compared to OGS content, these needed much more pre-production. From research, to drawing up a sitemap and UI/UX planning. Especially for UI/UX, we had to learn and figure these out along the way.

4. On that note, given that The Future of Our Pasts Festival aims to showcase lesser-known narratives about our local history – what are your thoughts on the view that some stories are more important or valuable than others?
We think that everyone has a good story to tell!

5. How do you think your project is relatable to audiences, such as those who may not have personal experience with their schools being merged?
We’ve included optional explainers for audiences who’re unfamiliar to better understand Singapore’s education system. For example, we explain jargon like DSA and the JC admission scoring system in short texts. We also hope that they can also relate to the human stories first – you’ll find that even though the topic here is about school merger, the interactive documentary is fundamentally various stories about different stakeholders. Which we hope, is relatable to all. We’ve used quite generic terms when we designed the web. Even if you’re not from a merging JC or from Singapore’s education system, we think you might have places of your childhood, etc that you have to say goodbye to.

6. As the project creators, what is one last thing you’d like your audience to know, or take away?
We hope that the audience can reflect on their experiences while participating in the discourse on the disappearing spaces of Singapore. The main takeaway perhaps, is for the audience to think about what defines the space. Is it the space, the people or the experience?
Also join us for our launch event and follow our social media channels @ourgrandfatherstory @futureofourpasts

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