Charles Lim’s work All Lines Flow Out presents a haunting cinematic exploration of Singapore’s drainage system, or longkang—the Malay term for ‘drain’—an intricate network of waterways designed to expunge unsightly seawater from view and keep the streets pristine. Following the journey of a man walking along the city’s canals, the video captures the flow of water in open channels under different weather conditions and at different times of day. The final scene closes with the man in a life jacket, drifting in a violent sea of waves.
All Lines Flow Out belongs to Lim’s ongoing SEA STATE series, begun in 2004, which addresses the relationships between constructed systems and the natural world through video, photographs, and other objects. Drawing on his past experience as an Olympic sailor and his deep knowledge of the sea, Lim explores the maritime geography and history of Singapore, considering how systems of the sea act as counterpoints to what takes place on land—politically, socially, and culturally.