Chris Inton and His Air-conditioned Life

|By Jay Bautista

Inside the Singapore MRT’s glass-encased, well-lit, air-conditioned entity, one cannot help but loose oneself while unconsciously looking out at the dark urban wilderness of skylines with neon lights. For someone who may have experienced working abroad, this scene is typical. There’s something about being in a moving transportation like the MRT in a foreign land that makes passengers think blindly (or in this case, not think at all). This sudden appeal wrapped around one’s senses makes one almost numb, as he is cradled with the hush inside it while a lullaby-like timbre of an efficient train cannot be more soothing enough. As he looks patiently outside in a speedy-like sequence of a film being fast forwarded, we are certain his longing for home would be the current movie in his playlist.

Since 2000, Christian Inton has been living in Singapore and presently works as a senior graphic journalist for Reuters. He habitually experiences this scene on his daily train commute to his workplace. Against this melancholic metropolitan abyss, In Transit 01 is a study of contrasts of the continuing allegory of Filipino diaspora.

In Transit 01

In its accompanying piece, In Transit 02 is given more details in depiction and meticulously rendered in more realist colors. As foreigners abound the MRT in Singapore, the vast blackness out of the window seems like a reversed canvas filled with the same happy broken dreams and sad void longings for they all left behind. As rapid as the MRT zooms away in one sequential direction is their fervent wish to be home in their native land. that as fast as the MRT. Thus, in relation to how one perceives the two figures clutching their bags like security blankets, the presence of the smoke of velocity or the cloud of doubt could either be an enigmatic shroud “overcastting” with good intentions or a hale of fumes, confusing both the viewer (which could be you) who is seated in front of them. The MRT becomes more of a temporary escape more than a vehicle taking you to another destination. Being in the MRT may also seem a like respite to the preoccupation or quagmire we, including the viewer, are all in. The clouds or smoke which Inton has done could be very decorative, although one wonders if both have missed their destinations or would be asking if it was really worth the “longer train trip” at all.

In Transit 02

The numbing effect of blurry clouds on the main subjects in anonymity lures one in being abroad (or Singapore for Inton) with a possible vague myth of a better life. As one is drawn captive to both artworks, looking long and hard, one notices that we are all in this together — the viewer in you who is in the MRT, and as you watch them, they watch you in the White Canvas gallery in Singapore or better yet, in one’s monitor such as what you are using now in Manila.

Tres is currently exhibited as part of the Philippine Art Trek in Singapore.