The Impossibility of Knowing (2010)

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Review by Sindie’s Jeremy Sing

The documentary visits and films locations where crimes or accidents have taken place, long after the events have happened to find out if these places can transcend time to engender their own significance. With the barest of details gleaned from contemporaneous news clippings, Pin Pin reconstructs the incidents via a dry voice over. The film is narrated by Lim Kay Tong who is the presenter for local crime re-construction series Crime Watch. The locales are marked with an address and you can visit these places.

11 mins 31 secs, 16:9, English


Completed and first screened at DMZ Docs 11 Sep 2010
In Competition, Visions du Reel
In Competition, Oberhausen
Singapore Biennale 2011


As Tan describes, this is an experiment in the ability of film to capture aura, albeit a failed one: visually, the images remain fundamentally architectural and documentary, with no explicit reference to tragedy or haunting. A fascinating game emerges in the relationship between narrative voiceover, which consists of a deadpan recounting of the incidents in a tone of dry reportage, and the video, which is similarly devoid of any prurient interest, as the viewer cannot help but search for clues in the moving space of the film. Emotion shapes geography, and the filmmaker in turn recreates this topography of affect through the application of the cinematic process.


Narrator Lim Kay Tong
Producer & Director Tan Pin Pin
Associate Producer Josephine Seetoh
Cinematographer David Shiyang Liu
Editor Grace Xiao
Sound Design & Audio Jerry Teo, SoundRooom
Transcription Asra Aman