I Was Here
Francis Ng's sculpture "I Was Here" now stands outside the Esplanade is clearly playing with the idea of memory: how does one leave traces? Clearly sculpture and monuments have been methods of doing so in many societies - anything carved in stone is an attempt to preserve something about one's life beyond one's death. So Ng takes that act of memorialising to the logical extreme, creating a monument that states its symbolic meaning, combining signifier (stone monument) and signified ("I was here").
The work made me think of how stone momuments rarely serve the preservation function forever, in spite of their creators' intentions, a fact Shelley observed in "Ozymandias":
And on the pedestal these words appear:Ars longa, vita brevis, but glorifying monuments just become wrecks devoid of meaning, boundless and bare.
"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.