Afterword: Portals to the Future: MRT Stations, Universities, and the Peopling of Technologies
2023. "Afterword: Portals to the Future: MRT Stations, Universities, and the Peopling of Technologies", At the Pivot of East and West: Ethnographic, Literary, and Filmic Arts, Michael M. J. Fischer
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Entrances to Singapore's Mass Rapid Transit System (MRT), and to colleges and universities, provide symbolic and real portals to the future of the city-state. The portal at the Chinatown MRT station carries on its floor a literal “footnote” to a mural of a soaring phoenix. The footnote comprises three rhyming couplets in Tan Swie Hian's elegant calligraphy, while the mural represents the journeys of Singapore's Chinese immigrants. The portal at Tembusu College (of the National University of Singapore) sports two elephants, painted by students, carrying concerns for endangered wildlife species and threatened ecologies. The portal at the MRT station at the Singapore University of Technology and Design carries walls covered with the fingerprints of the pioneer class of the university. Amidst the anonymous fingerprints are words, flickering with embedded thoughts and anxieties about their futures.