A Year Made Object


I have been neglecting this blog. Most of the action have moved on to IG: yampulets. But things have also been pretty mad at work....and then there was this - A Year Made Object. Where should I start?

Perhaps I should just reproduce the introduction in the "A Year Made Object" book. And at the end, I will archive some images of the book I produced with designer Jerry Goh and photographer Jovian Lim to make a time capsule of a time capsule (edition of 150, numbered/signed by ampulets, limited copies still available - DM). You can explore more about the artists/designers and everything about this project that took more than my last 18months > IG: ayearmadeobject.


During one of the many “phases” of the pandemic, there was a moment when I could not tell what year we were in. I reflected on this dislocation, sat at my desk, and started to write this note. It is titled “A Year Made Object”:



No one plants time capsules anymore. In the previous millennium, time capsules used to be popular with construction projects or anniversaries. A group of people would be invited to fill a large vacuum-sealed steel container with objects selected to represent a certain year or moment. This time capsule would be buried at a significant site or building. And if someone remembers, the time capsule would be unearthed and opened 50 or 100 years later. Ah, how people then will look upon these curious objects! 


Could time capsules have fallen out of fashion because objects have lost their aura?


Images, including images of objects, are what we now collect, “curate” and display on our social media feeds. And in this economy of images, time has a different rhythm and significance.  Life passes us by as fast as we can scroll or swipe. It is then archived the very instant a photograph or status update is posted: stored, organized in our IG Story Highlights, or re-surfaced as FB memories. In fact, life seems to be have happened already as an archive.  In this way, the proliferation of images on social media may have changed how we remember, and our experience of time. And I wonder if it has also changed why we remember… or if we needed to remember anything anymore. 


Nature is cyclical – it does not get bored with repetitions. It is not confused when it encounters its own start or its end, and again. It has no quarrel with eternity. Alone in our own consciousness, our sense of time is linear. We are born, we live, we die. Our sense of space is expansionist. To this we accord progress. We love to move forward or just to move on. The pandemic disturbed this sense of time and even space with its multiple waves of restrictions and lockdowns. We were in a groundhog’s day, an incessant marching on the spot.


I experienced this momentary dislocation recently. I found myself unable to accurately identify the year the pandemic started. 


But why should it matter how time passes or that we understand and grasp its passing? Why does it matter that we should be able to recount the past or remember it? Is remembering only for the wise, that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past? Is it only for the weak, that we falter in sentimentality? Is it only for the proud, that we are reminded of our mortality? Why then do we choose to forget?


This project is an attempt to make a kind of time capsule for today.  I would like to invite you to make objects of clay, wood, metal, natural fibre and/or a mixture of these, objects that help you mark and remember the year that has passed. 


There are only 2 parameters or “rules”:

(1)    Each artist can make a maximum of 12 objects

(2)    Each object must be situated in, associated with or tagged to a specific month That association is for you to know. That relationship is embodied in your object.  You may choose to title your work or simply label it by the month. The year is as you define it – there is no common start or end date. 


Your inspiration and expression can be personal, literal, aesthetic, didactic, fictive…. Regardless, you are invited to revisit your experience of the year past, and to share your memory or memories transformed and made object.  It is a memory that can be touched and held and not scrolled away; a memory that exists in time and space; a year made object.



So it happened that, halfway through writing the note to help resolve that momentary dislocation, I had also drafted an invitation to friends to participate in a game! 


But isn’t that what we often do? We start with a desire, a question, a need – and we try to find in ourselves, in nature and our environment, or in others and our communities, a quenching, an answer, a home.  


In seeking, we cast a line.


August 2021, I emailed this note to a small group of artists and designers. They are friends and acquaintances I’ve made over the years and some, more recently. All of them made objects as part of their professional, artistic and design practice. Most said yes to the project! With 16 artists and designers signed up for the game, I invited friends Jovian Lim and Jerry Goh to photograph and to make a book of the project (and of course the book would itself be an object), while I would make the eventual exhibition – a gathering of objects and people.  


From August 2021 to September 2022, the artists and designers worked on their objects and completed them. Over emails, text messages, and when the pandemic restrictions eased, coffees and meals with those involved, I listened to their ideas, processes, experiences – snippets of their lives. Over those months, their ideas took physical form. I kept Jovian and Jerry in the loop, because their work would only come at the end and needed to respond to these multiplicity of ideas and lives being shared. They had quite a task! From September to November 2022, we prepared the photography, book and exhibition. 


If time were an object, it may well be this: a wild, intractable tangle. 


In the isolation of the pandemic, the mad tangle felt momentarily cut. Yet time did not actually stop during the pandemic. Time on this side of the universe still pushed forward, and we were inevitably strung along. However loose and faint the line, we are tethered to time. We are also, thankfully, tethered to one another. We may not immediately or always see the links and connections. But our lives, however alone, are not singular, impenetrable, atomized. 


As you slowly examine these works in the exhibition and book, I hope they cast more lines into the wild, intractable tangle of your own lifetime.



With love,

Yvonne Tham / ampulets


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