Sustainability In The Form of iLight

Sustainability to me means the ability to be maintained at a certain rate and to use minimal energy while producing the best results. It also means for something to be able to withstand a long period of time and to be able to be passed down from generation to generation, for example an authentic piece of wooden furniture, a technology or design that is able to be relevant in the present as well as in the future. In the iLight festival, I find it interesting to combine the use of light and art to get people engaged and become more aware of the importance of sustainability. This method is more influential in the future generations, as we value art and design more than the older generations in Singapore.

The Urchins (iLight Festival 2017), is one of my favourite pieces this year. Using traditional methods of crocheting, the results of the surface is intricate yet it creates a sense of harmony and tranquility. In the day, the interaction with natural light causes a play between the physical object and the shadow that is casted on the floor. It absorbs sunlight, and retransmits and reflects it. At night, the Urchins illuminate and glow, creating a sense of enchantment and magic. The glow at night are created by spotlights, which shines onto certain parts of the surface and the rounded shape of the object and material of the surface (white double braided polyester cord) causes light to bounce and reflect within themselves, which makes the objects seem brighter than they actually are. The designers behind the Urchins have been successful in using minimal energy and light while at the same time producing maximum luminosity, and also incorporating sustainability with art.

You Are What You Carry (Chapter 4): Response

I do agree with Chipchase that we carry items that give us a sense of security, and sometimes this sense of security causes us to carry more than we need. This results in having many things in our bags, pockets and wallets and it can be a burden to carry, but if it is essential to survive and for us to go about our daily lives without any hiccups, why not?

An interesting example in this chapter is the life of Meili, where Chipchase accounts that her handbag never leaves her sight, and she was even upset when she realised that she had left her bag unzipped. In countries like China or India where theft is frequent, people become more vigilant and sensitive to their surroundings and belongings. On the contrary, in a relatively low theft rate country like Singapore, you would realise that leaving your mobile phone and wallet on the table while you eat is very common. This can result in forgetting about them when you leave the area after you have eaten because we are not being ‘forced’ to be sensitive about our belongings. This is similar to having all our information and essentials in our phones. Knowing that we have everything at the tip of your fingers would make us less aware, because we know that our devices will remind us of what we need to do. Being humans, we adapt to this instant lifestyle quickly and could make us be impatient if we cannot get things we want quickly and conveniently.

In relation to this where the future moves on to storing files and money in clouds and abstract or intangible places where you know it’s there, but you cannot see it, people start to be less aware and watchful of their items. For example Chipchase mentioned about having credits in your fare card and not tracking how much you have, resulting in carrying more cards than what you actually need. Of course, it is useful when your credits are combined and made available in a single physical form like the mobile phone, where you can link your fare card to your credit card, and you do not have to worry about insufficient credits. However, with everything combined into a single device, there is still a high risk of system failure or theft. One moment you could have everything in there and the next moment it’s gone.

With this in mind, people are starting to come up with ideas of owning something without it actually being yours. For example in a local context, we have the Obike, where you can rent a bicycle anywhere and ride it to anywhere you want. Like what Chipchase says, ‘There’s no way to steal something that has no owner.’, we do not have to worry about our bicycle being stolen because it is not ours to begin with. That being said, however, we cannot forget that out there it is the business that is losing money.

Lastly, as technology develops, our lifestyle changes and human behaviour will evolve. Like the vending machine in Japan, where we can check our credits to see if we still have enough to buy a soda or not, it is important to consider the endless possibilities of the human behaviour and experience when we want to design for the future.