With DORSCON declared, orange became our colour. Some rushed to the supermarkets. Others clamoured for red, as though it would help our situation. In full, the term “Disease Outbreak Response System Condition” seems almost over-explained, almost cartoonish, like some absurd movie plot device. But when shortened to the more familiar acronym, there is something impenetrable to it, something unknowable and vaguely threatening. Perhaps it was this quality that inspired the first wave of emptied supermarket shelves.
New Year’s Day. I send a text of to a friend and she wishes me “collaborations, words, and community”. Community. At the time, the word just seemed to bounce off, like it was purely a friendly greeting, or that it was almost foreign to me. I didn’t realise that within the next month, it would be the most urgent thought on my mind.
As the COVID-19 situation unfolded, it became clear that it had the potential to take many, many lives. Fighting the virus would also come at a great economic cost. Furthermore, our social fabric faced grave danger. I became preoccupied with the idea of community and our connections to one another.
The basis of this project is experimental. Incorporating submissions from various contributors across a range of genres, this project is an attempt to create a polyphonic essay of a sort. When the idea was first conceived, I realised that the project would have Singapore at its core—and me—but that its true purpose was to reach across borders and also outside of my individual subjectivity, and to become a part of the global chorus of responses to the crisis.
At its heart, these are personal stories. They are the stories of individuals from different walks of life. It is impossible to describe the full breadth of a crisis of such magnitude and complexity, but with these individual stories, we can hope to produce a patchwork that speaks somewhat adequately of it. With this approach, I hope the project will serve to document our unusual moment, bring our connections to one another to the fore, and try to protect the crumbs of our everyday.
This is a developing project. As much as it is termed a record, it is a performance responding to a particular time and place, a continuing exploration into how best to speak of the moment. That is, it will continue to transform as it is edited, as ideas change, as more submissions come in, and as the situation develops. The format of the piece is also experimental, exploratory, and as I grapple with the unique challenges of what such a project entails. Most of us are hardly professionals in any of these fields as well. There will be rough edges, changes, and inadequacies that I ask you to forgive.
No matter who or where you are, I hope you are well, and that you will continue to be so. There is nothing particularly significant in Dorscon Document, but I hope it can offer you some comfort, some food for thought, or some form of connection. It is a gathering of sorts, but also the promise of gatherings to come.
[Wan Yi, When the Community gets Bottled and the Wild gets Wild]