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Re-mappings, re-constructions, re-layering and re-visits: Cinematic pasts as urban cultural resources

Principal Investigator (PI): Asst Prof Liew Kai Khiun

Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI): Asst Prof Lee Sang Joon, Dr Simone Chung Shu Yeng

Collaborators: Nil

Start Date: Nov 2015

End Date: On-going

Abstract: This research seeks to unearth the spatial-cultural dynamics that the movie theaters had engendered in the urban settings in both Southeast and Northeast Asia that were part of the transnational circulation of regional films since the 1920s. With the rapidity of cinematic productions and urban redevelopment, the cityscapes in the region have been constantly superseded by new spatial layers, Even the cinema, which was once considered as the entertainment centre in which social and cultural activities revolves around, can be gradually be history. Recognizing the significance of the cinema in deepening the spatial meanings and emotional investment to the urban landscape, this study draws on a combination of collective memories as well as other material traces to reconstruct and re-layer the forgotten transnational cinemascapes of cities in Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Planned to be conducted in Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea, the study intends to take on a more transnational perspective. With the understanding that the architectural design and functions of the cinema impacts upon the broader street-scapes and urban character of the city as well as the lifestyle of its residents, this study intends to draw upon the multidisciplinary fields of Architectural forensics, oral history interviews from Historical Studies and the notions of activist tourism in en-valuing the sites through heritage tours. The first involves the archival search for related building plans, official documents and other audio-visual projects pertaining to the site. The second entails the conduct of oral history interviews with former residents and operators that had witnessed the heydays of these cinema spaces, and the third would entail the selective re-introduction of the premises to the contemporary audiences as part of both the possibilities of rekindling past memories and connections as well as germinating new possibilities from these visitors.