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/Cloud/ Watching or Portrait of a Young Artist in 1990s Kuala Lumpur

Yee I-Lann, YB No. 9, YB Series, 2010, 35 x 26 cm. Courtesy the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York
Simon Soon explores how Yee I-Lann and her creative community created a shared space for urban youths at a transitional moment in 1990s Kuala Lumpur. In 1996, architectural firm DNA Studio (later labDNA collective) staged a multimedia bildungsroman epic, To Catch A Cloud, at the National Planetarium of Malaysia. For the occasion DNA Studio founders Yee I-Lann and Nani Kahar published an accompanying booklet titled cloud watching. The zine-like catalogue comprises textual and graphic collages on the subject of clouds contributed by family, friends and simply anyone they could get hold of. In the top right-hand corner of each right-hand page is a tiny box with a digital graphic outline of a landscape; flipping through at speed animates this corner with the passing of clouds across a mountain, brought to a close by an approaching storm.This semblance of a narrative is the only binding element across the collage, yet it also sets up a different rebus. Colours on one page bleed into the next, transforming the abstract image into an atmosphere for one brief moment, buoyed by the cacophony of voices, as fleeting and as impressionable as clouds.