Project Proposal: Echoes of Jurong

Subject of project

This mainly auditory-based project attempts to relate these disparate themes together in a given place:

  • the tremendous changes an area undergoes over time
  • the interactions of its inhabitants with their environment
  • how people perceive past and present in different ways

Space to be explored

The area has been confined to limit scope.

This area has been chosen as quite a lot has been changed in this area. And the communities that lived here has also been present in the past, so would make for an interesting juxtaposition. There are a number of landmarks, both past and present:

  • Drive-in cinema
  • Three gardens, Chinese, Japanese and Tropical
  • Various brickworks
  • Reclaimed areas
  • Jurong Vocational Institute
  • Old estates
  • Cemeteries

Form of project

It will take the form of a interactive site to be used on a mobile browser. The user will be presented with a map of an area of Jurong. On this map there will be subtly highlighted areas indicating ‘areas with echoes’. As the user navigate within this area, s/he will experience a mix of different soundscapes comprising of interviews, ambient sounds, readings or music. These soundscapes are dynamically generated and is affected by time of day, speed of travel, location and presence of ‘others’.

On the map user can also see faint highlights of other’s travels, so s/he could decide to visit ‘hotspot areas’. Other than a purely passive auditory experience, users can also record audio bites on location, and these will in turn become part of the ‘echoes’ of the area.

Development

25 Feb

Prototype 1

  • Mapbox setup
  • Geolocation api for tracking user; user location is shown on map
  • Heat map styling to show echo ‘hotspots’
  • Insert audio clips to specific coordinates
  • Trigger audio when within proximity(supports simultaneously playing audio clips)
  • Working early prototype; deployment to remote server(Amazon EC2)
  • Quick debugging option for prototyping echo ‘zones’ by clicking on map to ‘simulate’ user location

Resources

Thoughts on Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle

Going through the first few paragraphs, I was at a loss at what I was reading. The sentences didn’t appear coherent, and I was trying hard to decipher what ‘The Spectacle’ was all about. As I went through more of them, I quickly and sadly start to understand what the article was about. In this respect, Debord has done a magnificent job of crafting this seminal piece. I dare say this is one of the most thought-provoking pieces I have ever read. Unlike traditional prose, Debord does not bother setting the stage. He jumps straight to describing the ‘phenomena’, prompting the intentional, slow and unsettling ‘discovery’ by the reader, which is just brilliant in my opinion.

Part of the genius of the term being coined here is that this phenomena is omnipresent and hard to quantify, as of all the things that are associated with it (advertising, all forms of media, consumerism, mass production etc.) permeating throughout modern society. Thus it is inherently hard to assign a highly accurate and descriptive term, yet ‘The Spectacle’ seems to do well, precisely for its ambiguity and succinctness in describing this abstract entity.

The frequent use of word play is also masterfully employed, and frankly can be quite tiresome at times, but that is precisely the point: ‘The spectacle thus unites what is separate, but it unites it only in its separateness.’ The cyclical and paradoxical nature of this upsetting process of conversion on global proportions is turning itself on its head literally.

The spectacle corresponds … commodity completes its colonization of social life… commodities are now all that there is to see; the world we see is the world of commodity.

This quote is truly apt and befitting of our times. Everything has been commodified, friendships, life, food, wellness, relationships and a ceaselessly growing list.

‘The Spectacle’ in usual terms would mean a sight or phenomena to behold, and capitalism, mass consumerism or any aforementioned derivative in this scenario is the spectacle that has masked our eyes; with the insidious, flawless combination of the ‘Separation’, ‘Commodity’ and ‘Unity and division’ mechanisms as described.

Here, I feel Debord has managed to weave a complex narrative of how the world and its people evolved, with few simple terms and relatively simple prose; a breathtaking feat to say the least.

Jurong Field Research

02/01/1972, Singapore. Jurong

Present day, Singapore. Jurong

Audio Recordings


Audio 02 – Near Lakeside MRT

Audio 03 – Around Rulang Pri.

 

Audio 04 – Shophouse area

 

Audio 05 – Hua Yi. Sec. Sch

 

Audio 06 – Jurong West St.42

 

Audio 07 – Beside expressway

Non-linear narrative concept

Juxtapose the past and present via sounds. As participant navigates through areas of Jurong, he/she is presented with sound bites from the past/present. These sound bites can be any of the following:

  • historical readings
  • ambient environmental sounds of past/present
  • recordings of worker interviews?
  • recorded readings of thoughts/prose

The participant explores the historical development of the Jurong area through the times by navigating and witnessing it in the present, while being immersed in the past via sounds.

dalí lives – inspiring interactive art

When I first read about this piece of work, I was extremely flabbergasted by how well it was executed, as well as how technology and art have both been appropriately employed to create something beautiful and astonishing!

Salvador Dalí has left us for more than 30 years now, yet the dalí museum has brought him ‘back to life’ with an amazing creation of a digital persona that feels, looks and sounds like him! This persona greets and interacts with visitors in a very lifelike and personable manner. It feels really special as Dalí has obviously not known anyone living in this time of day, yet everything about this pseudo interaction looks and feels real enough.

The studio behind this feat has employed A.I.(or machine learning) to first go through all archival footage of him, and managed to extract the way he speaks and his facial expressions. Armed with this knowledge they have been able to procedurally and dynamically re-create a digital version of his face. This is similar to how Gollum is created from Andy Serkis’ facial performance in the Lord of the Rings series. With the lifelike model in hand, digital Dalí can be pre-programmed to say or act in any way.

By further layering many different performances, dialogues and gestures, visitors will receive a tailored, unique Dalí reception every day of the week! But the next mind-blowing aspect of the whole experience was that visitors can actually pose and take a virtual selfie with the famous man himself! This blurring of digital and physical reality has been masterfully achieved in the simple humble act of a selfie. With that, the deal is sealed, and the happy visitor gets to go home with a piece of techno-historical artifact.

Read more about it! 

Reflection: Jurong My Love

Dan’s beautifully crafted prose really struck a chord in me as I grew up in Jurong West and went to the now-famous Rulang Primary School as a young boy. I can imagine myself taking the bus 99, going through the exact same route and experiencing the sights and sounds that Dan had painstakingly described.

I had plenty of fond memories of the Chinese Garden before it received a major haul in the past few years. I was a frequent visitor of the Science Center as well, filling my many hours with curiosity and fascination with all things science.

My childhood days were mostly spent with my parents in their shop, at Jurong West St. 41. Most of the surrounding shops are all replaced. When I walk past the area, I wonder what happened to most of our neighboring shops and their owners.

Like Dan, I have also experienced moving houses growing up.

When I went on to secondary education, I moved to Jalan Bahar area and my parents’ shop shifted to an underground bomb shelter at Choa Chu Kang. With the passing of time and development of Singapore’s economy, neighborhood ‘Mama’ shops became increasingly hard to run. Sprawling shopping malls spring up from Choa Chu Kang, all the way to Jurong East and Boon Lay. I could still remember when Jurong Point was only a much smaller building a few decades ago, and when Jurong East had only a single paltry mall back then.

Looking back, I experience the same sense of loss and nostalgia from the good old days, where everything was smaller, simpler and slower.