Debbie Ding (b. 1984) is a Singapore-based visual artist, programmer and independent researcher based in Singapore. She facilitates the Singapore Psychogeographical Society, which is devoted to promoting a better understanding of the world through ludic adventures, independent research, digital documentation, and data/archival activism.
In his Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography (1955), Guy Debord defined psychogeography as the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organised or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals. Psychogeoforensics is an extension of that concept – to combine a heightened awareness and appreciation for the various “ambiances” in an urban city – with the domain of forensics. Because of the peculiar fragmented nature of history and culture in Singapore, we could also view Singapore as the scene of the mystery, or even as the missing artifact, or a curiously blank signifier.
Through psychogeoforensics, the Singapore Psychogeographical Society encourages people to construct/reconstruct their own narratives around the various physical traces, histories, and archives that may be overlooked or neglected in a fast-developing urban cities such as Singapore.
Mushroom Hall 2015
Several texts on 19th century English dwellings state that there had been a notion held that if a person could erect a dwelling between sunset and sunrise, they could remain there and “obtain a copyhold right to the land beneath him”. The historian J Edward Vickers writes in his book “Old Sheffield Town” that there was a tale of a man who succeeded in building his dwelling in Crookesmoor using turf sods and waste materials, and it had been dubbed “Mushroom Hall” because it seemed to have appeared mysteriously overnight.
How long do you have to live in a place before you have the right to make up stories about it? And how long do you have to live in a place before you have the right to claim it as your own? What is a story worth? And what is in a history of objects?
Debbie Ding presents a collection of lesser objet d’art of ambiguous origin from the UK – gathered from charity shops in the UK, which in turn have received these household ornaments from the sitting rooms and mantlepieces of anonymous donors.
Each work of art has been re-narrativised and re-evaluated, and its price has been reappraised based on the new narratives which have been designed to accompany each object.