Semester Project Final: 聆聽靈聽 / Listening, Listening

Setting up of the Space
The setting up of the space was quite time-consuming because of the large barrels. They were difficult to bring to the classroom, let alone brought to the staircase (but no regrets)! For the audio output, I decided to attach a few headphones to the base of the barrel so that it will project sound when you’re close enough to the barrel.

Attaching a piece of wood to the base of the barrel so that the wiring will not get interrupted.

Attaching audio output to base & flipping barrel over.

Barrel before wrapping up with gunny sack.

Wrapping the barrels up after attaching the audio devices.

Arranging barrels in the space.

More process shots

Space after setting up

Chosen Space
The initial setup space was supposed to be on the second floor at the following space: However, I was not able to get an approval thus I decided to change the location instead. The new location at the staircase was much more mysterious and I feel that it suits the concept better as it was supposed to be a place where you can eavesdrop to people’s conversations – something not so “legal”. Due to the nature of secrecy, I thought the staircase would be an interesting place to explore.

 MAX Patch

Two patches because the audio files were too big and kept causing the software to crash.

List of recordings used

List of ambient sounds recorded

For the ambient sounds, I went to MacRitchie reservoir to record some of the insect sounds and also took recordings of roosters. These recordings were hard to collect as it required me to talk to several people and get near enough to other people to record what they were saying. I also recorded some of the conversations I had with my family as it was easiest to record.

Areas to Improve
My Arduino patch didn’t quite work out. It wasn’t communicating with MAX MSP the way I wanted it to. I think the main problem was the sending of values, I think I am quite close to achieving the right code. In the end, due to the shortage of time, I decided I would just manually operate the patch instead.

Circuit used.

Final documentation of video.
Password: intspaces

Semester Project Pitch: 聆聽靈聽 / Listening, Listening

For the semester project, I wish to explore the idea of listening. Listening is a form of communication that we often forget. We even lose this ability to listen to the people around us, because we are too busy forming our opinions about them or the topic we want to say. We are too engrossed in thinking about what to say next, and forget that the meaning of “communication”.

I think listening is a skill that requires lots of patience. We are often too quick to judge and form an opinion about the people around us without a proper understanding of their circumstance.

I would like to merge the idea of the puppets and the eavesdropping idea for this project. I realised that the only time we listen without talking is when we are listening to other people’s conversations. Hence, I want to further develop this idea. I feel that this fits with the idea of puppetry because a puppet show do not necessary communicate in a language we understand. It is through their bodily actions that explains the storyline. We are also less likely to judge a puppet because it is a shapeless, formless, characterless figure.

In Chinese, the phrase “listen” can be written in two ways – 聆聽 and 靈聽. With the latter, the word 靈 means “spirit”. My interpretation of this term is to listen with your “soul” and not your “head”.

The interactive space will consist of 12 different barrels and some puppets. In eight of them, people can trigger recordings of conversations via a proximate sensor and listen through the hole in the barrel. The other four barrels will consist of ambient sounds.

How the barrels look like
Proposed space

Metaphor of the “Tree”
These barrels will be covered in brown paper and decorated to look like a tree. Trees symbolise life and immortality. I always felt that trees have the most stories to tell, having the ability to live through many centuries. In this case, the tree produces stories it has eavesdropped over time.

Metaphor of the “Puppet”
Faceless puppets will also hang around the tree to represent the characters or people in the recorded conversations.

I am currently thinking of a proximate sensor and the possible places where this can be staged.

Things to work on:
– Sensor
– Site location (power plugs, size of space in relation to barrels)


Semester Project (Analogue): The Secret Life of Robert & Abigail

The toughest part of this project was creating the different personas of the puppets. I wanted to create a space catalyst for interaction and in this case, it was the puppets. I thought I could use a portable device like the hula-hoop as I was inspired by how puppet troops used to bring their props around to perform for the masses.

Research in the Past 2 Months
For my research, I first went to Haw Par Villa to check out the space. I think the whole of Haw Par Villa is an immersive interactive space itself. I watched two different shows and managed to interview the director of one of the puppet shows. I wanted to understand more about the process behind puppet making and she kindly invited me to the dress rehearsal of her show, The Dog Who Goes Woof Woof. I enjoyed how the lighting and technical aspects of the show came together. Perhaps I could also consider these things in my project as well.

I really liked how the set was designed for this show. The use of different materials and cloth integrated with one another very well.

Another show I watched was a puppet show by a Taiwanese troop.

They used multimedia effects to appeal to the younger audience and tried to incorporate slangs in their performance.

I also found the space at Esplanade concourse really intriguing because of the use of pipes. This space was to allow members of the public to pen their new year wishes and hang them onto the pipes. I like how cushions were placed on the floor to allow the public to sit on.

Process of Making Space

Wrapping the hula hoop.

The interactive aspect of the hula hoop was inspired by dream catchers because the space that puppets reside in feels very much like a dreamscape. It requires the suspension of disbelief to allow people to interact with the space. Creating the three puppets were very tough because I tried to explore different ways of making them.

Password: intspaces

Semester Project Pitch (Analogue)

For the semester project, I came up with several ideas for the semester project after some brainstorming.

Initial Ideas

  1. Eavesdropping through a glass cup
    The idea is to make use of glass cups placed on different parts of a door to see if sound can really penetrate through. Can we pick up a secret or two? Movies seem to always be able to do that…

    Source DreamsTime
  2. Puppetry in Space
    I wanted to experiment with puppets because it was what we were first exposed to as a child. They are quite cuddly creatures and intriguing to look at.

    Source (Bears In Space Performance)
  3. Table Football (Lifesize)
    The exact replica of the table football, but in 1:1 scale! (Quite ambitious)


Selected Idea

I decided to work on something that I was passionate about – puppetry and mask work, more specifically puppetry.  Although I was really interested in the first idea (eavesdropping), I wanted to see how puppetry could be used as an interactive tool or space for people.


Puppetry comes in many different forms, such as:

  • Hand Puppets
  • Contemporary Puppets
  • Rod Puppets
  • Shadow Puppets
  • String Puppets
Various Sources

Puppetry has a special place in my heart because of the magic it brings to a space. It is an object that cannot exist without the interaction of a human being. In the past, a major aspect of Asian traditional theatre comprised of puppetry. It was an art form used in religious rituals and storytelling. It was also a medium used to pass down folklores, values and explain ideals to the younger generation. However, this traditional form of art is slowly dying out in Asia.

One of the difficulties I am facing is how I can convert this into an interactive space. I cannot seem to think of something that is outside of its traditional way of presentation.

I liked Martín Azúa’s Puppet Chair because of the way it is suspended in space. It creates an illusion that the user is floating in the air weightlessly. The user seems to morph into a puppet due to the positioning of the chair. It also makes use of the structure of a string puppet.

Compagnie Non Nova’s Afternoon of a Foehn was an inspiration because of the use of fans as a device to interact with the plastic bag “puppets”. The performer adjusts the speed of the fan from his computer and allows the plastic bags to “dance” in the space, occasionally disrupting the “performance” of the plastic bags. The background music also complements the performance, creating a visual-auditory experience for its audience. How the plastic bags “dance” cannot be controlled by a human, which makes the performance all the more exciting and fascinating to watch.

I also found some projects involving the use of puppetry online, some of which use technology to interact with the puppets.

I am inspired by the use of technology in these instances. Technology removes the limits that a physical puppet has, as it is not tied to a rod and does not have to be controlled by another person. However, this lack of physical touch is something I feel is not what a puppet should be.


My idea is to sew a few puppets and create an interactive space between a group of people. I created a mock-up of how this puppet would look like. I decided to create a rod puppet because it was the easiest out of other puppets. It is also easy for someone to operate it. Moving on, I hope to further develop this idea of an interactive puppetry space.


100 Things, 100 Beer Bottles (with SUHWEE)

We started this project by brainstorming a list of ideas and eliminating those that we feel might be too costly for our poor pockets. We really like the last two ideas of using beer bottles and servos motors as we found them interesting. After a few discussions we decided to go with beer bottles and approached the drinks stall in kopitiams (coffee shop) around the school and near where we live. We found that many of these coffee shops recycle used bottles by returning to the sellers at 20 cents each. Most of them were not keen on selling or loaning the bottles to us as it was too much of a hassle.

  • The abandoned: Using beer bottles and plastic bottles [disposable objects] can be queuing to the dustbins
  • beer bottles
  • plastic bottles
  • leaves
  • paper bags
  • plates (disposable)
  • cups (disposable)
  • cans (empty)
  • cardboard boxes (used)
  • clothes peg
  • servos motors [since LPD has a lot]
  • safety pin
  • notice board pin
  • handyplast
  • toothpick
  • colour paper
  • paint tube
  • our A2 drawings LOL like is art consider as art when place at different place
  • photographs?
  • rubber bands
  • hair clip
  • candle
  • beer bottles/servos motors/ 
Retain events of humans 
- can link to foreign workers where they are ostracised by locals. Most of them gather around these places 
grass field / park on their free days, construction sites, kopitiam 
- Technology advance [place at raffles place] 
- put like as if its servo motors that run the show 
- sun bathing, go down stair case 
- spot light like in theatre 
- cinema 
- paper crane in the stomach
Plans on Friday
School compound
– carpark parking lots [mimicking cars]
– Tall areas to shoot down [Lobby, ADM roof, or level 3]
– School swimming pool [they are diving or playing]
– Lift [carpark lift]
– Mix with another type of beer bottle [in a mess]
– Sun bathing at sunken plaza
– Foot steps of bottle trace [can use the paper from drawing room]
– staircase [in sequence]
– Basketball court [using the ball to create movement]
– Bus stop [the queue @ busstop]
Su Hwee’s house
– Sand [maybe i can bring some bottle home]
– Coffee shop
– Void deck

Initially, we managed to get a good deal with a steamboat shop at Chinese Garden who was willing to sell a used China Beer bottles to us at 20 cents a bottle. However, we were quite lucky that Bao and Zhou Yang attended the CoHSS event in school and they found many used bottles (thanks!). They helped us keep the bottles and saved us a lot of trouble with transport. We managed to collect 107 bottles! We broke 2 of them while arranging them and gave 5 away to film students.

Things we have learnt:

  1. Unity is strength
    Smaller objects, when placed at bigger space are less visible [e.g. when placed at the sunken plaza] however placing them in a cluster makes them more visible
  2. Lighting is key
    Playing with lighting can help us to create mood and feel
  3. Help from friends
    Sometimes we need more hands to help us. We were quite thankful that
  4. No time to be glam
    Iit was tough work cleaning, laying out the bottles and taking photos of the bottles
  5. Is there a need to impose meaning on objects?
    We struggled with whether or not to impose a story or a meaning to the objects but in the end decided to let the viewer come up with their own interpretation
  6. Learning to adapt to the space and unforeseen circumstance
    Despite planning beforehand, there were many unforeseen circumstances, such as the change in bottles, the rain, we found ourselves having to adapt to these spaces, which is what makes this mini project so unique.

Basically, we just let our ideas flow and experimented with our ideas as much as  we could. Although some photos might not have turned out as intended (like the Beer Belly shot), we were happy with the results. During the shoot, we also explored the use of space, angles and lighting to create different context for the same bottles.

The bottles also created opportunities to interact with the passersby, most of them were curious and asked questions about what we were doing. It was interesting (almost hilarious) to watch them interact with the space that was filled with bottles.




Interactive Spaces: WHEE-ling – Be Part of the Art (with SUHWEE)

by Lim Su Hwee & Sim Xin Feng

What happens when you take an everyday object such as a pair of bicycle wheels to the streets? As its name suggests, WHEE-ling is an interactive piece of work that aims to create a fun experience between the two (or more) people interacting with two bicycle wheels. Many may remember being fascinated by everyday objects as a child. Building castles in the air and imagining things as they never were used to be a favourite pastime. WHEE-ling explores kinesthetic, audio and visual aspects of fun and gives individuals interacting with the wheels a chance to reminisce their childhood.

Process: Lessons Learnt

1. Don’t think too much
We faced some problems at the beginning while we were brainstorming. We came up with many ideas but none of them appealed to us and it was quite demoralising. We realised we might have been overthinking the project brief and causing ourselves unnecessary pain.

2. Expand on existing ideas
Another learning takeaway was that we should not be too quick to dismiss an idea even if it is not working out. Sometimes, expanding on an idea is a better solution than thinking of a new one altogether.

3. Sometimes the idea is right beside you
The idea came about when we saw a pair of bicycle wheels in class and some bells and decided to expand on this.

4. Time is money
At one point, we had to choose between spending more time looking for cheaper alternatives (for the ribbons so we can get more in terms of quantity) or save time by spending more (on lesser ribbons). In the end, our choice to spend more on less did not turn out too bad!

5. Being observant pays off
We beta-tested the experiment on ourselves and a few of our ADM friends and found that they were quite receptive to the wheel. We also improved on our little spinning wheels so that users will have  a more comfortable experience.

The Experiment
When the wheels were first brought into the space, people were mostly afraid of destroying the wheels. However, the kids who played with it first showed how fun it could be.

A few of the bells fell off the wheel because it wasn’t secured tightly enough.
Kids proved to be the best at play! They didn’t hold back as much as the adults did.
Guess adults do have a little kid in them too!

It is quite sad to see that many of the users held back in interacting with the wheels. Many of them just followed what the previous pair did and did not vary much. We sometimes had to tell them what they can do to motivate them to have fun. The kids, however, were more experimental and came up with different suggestions on how to play with it. One used the wheels to play limbo and even wanted to play jump rope with them!

We also found that the use of bells to create sounds morphed the space into something else. The sounds interacted with the people around and brought them to the space. Overall it was an exciting experience for both of us!