Symbols of Domestication

CompanyThe Straits Times
PhotographerLim Yaohui
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

Where you are standing today was once a forest some time ago. As part of an urban landscape now, we have “mastered” the forests; removing trees and planting trees at will. “Nature” is domesticated, forests become parks. So what are trees we see around us here in Singapore? Symbols of domestication? To what extent do they differ from organic forests? What feelings do the domestication of nature evoke? What is a tree which exists out of its natural context, devoid of poetic mystery? What is a tree which does not sprout out of natural ecological succession, rather, planted by the hands of those who possess many questions yet to be answered? What is a tree which is planted by people who are not aware of their own incomplete of nature? Illuminated by fluorescent lights, planted in the urban landscape to serve a list of beneficial ecological functions in the urban realm, they stand underneath a fiery urban sky painted by city lights.

About Photographer

Lim Yaohui worked at the Singapore Botanic Gardens after graduating from the National University of Singapore in 2007. As a horticulturist, his job involved planting trees and taking care of plants in Rainforest, Symphony Lake, Heliconia Walk and Palm Valley. In 2012, he left to pursue photography full time. After freelancing more than three years, he is now a staff photographer with The Straits Times in 2016. Visit his website at