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Mnemonic Architectures: Constructing and Reconstructing the Changi Chapels
by LIN Yanle Felicia
Reconstruction projects are often misleading as they masquerade righteously as the original. Yet, if reconstruction is understood as a process of forming an object or event again via the piecing of evidence or reenactment of scenarios, then reconstruction is the construction of an entirely new project that can (only) be associatively perceived with the original. Hence, the term “mnemonic device” is used instead, so as to objectively frame reconstructed projects.

This dissertation seeks to unravel the mnemonic process of reconstructed architectures, specifically the reconstructed versions of “the Changi Chapel”. To begin with, there are two new Changi Chapels that exist today which are clearly distinguishable from one another. Their identities should not be confused with each other, and certainly not with the original despite their attempts at becoming “the Changi Chapel”. Once this distinction has been established, these mnemonic devices will then proceed to signify “the Changi Chapel”.

Mnemonic devices are apparatuses that assist in the enhancement of memories, and mnemonic architecture then becomes the catalyst that triggers the connection between present existence and past memories. After this connection has been made, the metaphysics start to deceive the consciousness as an amalgamation of identities ensues, across spatial and temporal discontinuities. With all the identities of “the Changi Chapel” conflated, such as Prison Chapel/St. George’s Chapel (1944-1945), Prison Chapel/Church of England Chapel (1944-1947), Chapel in a room (1953-1987), Australian Chapel (1987-present), Museum Chapels (1988-2001 and 2001-present), it dissolves all discrepancies of architectural space which consequently also conflates the visitor’s existence. Due to the evocation of familiar sensations, it then is possible for the visitor to “transcend” into any versions of “the Changi Chapel”, that is, a duplicity of existence and obfuscation of consciousness.
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