Thoughts & Critique: Singapore Heritage Light Up Singapore

Central Fire Station

Armenian Church








– What is it that is being communicated?

Personally, I think this has been arranged to coincide with the celebration of National Day, and this year it is probably much more significant due to the unprecedented situation of a global pandemic. I think these iconic buildings might have been selected because they represent the important facets of society; religion, life-saving and cultural institutions, world class performing venue(esplanade), etc.

– What might the “curators” have to consider to plan such a transformation?

I think working with a limited palette of mainly red and white, it is not easy to make it obvious and impactful. But I think the subtleness/solemness of the whole ‘experience’ could have been intentional; as a way of urging Singaporeans to keep up the good fight, with perseverance and grit. Also, because of social distancing and a need to avoid public crowds, the ‘design’ of the experience has to be succinct, yet impactful, and not be overly ‘crowd-drawing’. The budget considerations could also be a factor in keeping the experience to a simple lights projection.

Singapore Art Museum

Church of the Good Shepherd








– What alternate ways could YOU imagine transforming these sites to communicate something unique or unknown about Singapore culture?

I think playing religiously-themed music softly could be interesting, especially for people from other cultures. If the place is a historic site like Central Fire Station, perhaps sound bites of historical events could be broadcasted. A virtual audio tour that is triggered on the phone with GPS could be used to allow visitors experience more relevant content.

The projection can be ‘interactive’ if visitors can send in positive messages and have them shown on the projections on these iconic buildings. This is especially great for people to give each other words of encouragement in these trying times.


Development of 2 person intervention

I have given some thought about the 2-person intervention where each person take turns to try to walk silently without being detected by the other towards the middle, which is the goal.

Here, I have further refined the idea to make it a tad more competitive and primal.

The setting is on a hot sunny day, out in the grass fields. In the middle a temporary tentage is placed, and spectators can hide here. There’s also plenty of water bottles at the tentage for thirst quenching.

The mechanics remains the same:

  • both participants sit facing away from each other
  • one of them starts first, by turning around with chair in hand, and tries to slowly make his/her way towards the tentage
  • if the other manages to catch him/her moving by clapping at that right time, the moving person will clap once, then get seated, and the roles are reversed.
  • if not, the catcher will shift his/herself a little further from the tentage, while the roles remain.

The interesting dynamic here, in my opinion, is that as it is a hot day, an implicit time limit is ‘enforced’; both participants will try to get to the middle as efficiently as possible. But doing so will also risk them getting caught faster or more often. And the penalty of moving further away also makes the catcher more attentive to his/her surrounding.

Thoughts on. Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space: Nests

The equivalent of Nests in the modern urban environment such as Singapore would be high rise flats. As a single living with my parents/sister’s family, I always find it interesting the multitude of emotions and meanings people attach towards their living spaces. In a sense, I am without roots, without emotional investment, baggageless and free.

Locally, it is customary for young loving couples to eagerly make their bid for a newly christened flat, with the intention of starting a new chapter in life together. Proximity to amenities, nature, good schools, city district, desirability of neighborhood, and the list goes on. To think there are so much considerations is beyond me. The storey of the unit is crucial across different cultures as well. The Chinese generally favor higher levels due to Feng Shui, security and many other reasons I have no idea of. The Malays and Indians seem the easiest going; they love the ground levels, reveling in outdoor, lavishly forested patios that infiltrate public void decks. Same species, yet so differently attuned to its environment.

As I step into people’s home, you can almost get a taste of their personality, likes, dislikes(inferred), hobbies, dreams and sometimes even problems. Immaculate floors, lavish furnishings, jungle-like balconies, antique filled studies; the visuals and smells tell you so much more than what any amount of verbal communication can ever hope to achieve. Yet, it’s easy to be deceived by what is presented as well. In my parents’ household, and I believe many others’, we tend to do a thorough cleanup before our guests arrive. Social correctness, crafting an idealised image, whatever it might be, is so integral to our social standing in life. The humble box serves as a vehicle for public perception, as we submit to social pressure to conform and deliver.

Catching the early rush-hour trains, as I study the tired faces of teachers, technicians, cleaners, students, temporary staffers and many many others, I know, their singular, unsung goal, when they wake up in the wee hours, and return late at night, is to participate in life and scratch a living, to enjoy a 30 year loan on their single biggest and most important investment. This puzzling human condition, artificial constructs; money, loans, high rise unit, have all conspired to gift us the meaning in life, in our pursuit of warmth, security and respect.

See you in the forest, in my cabin.

Zoom Performance Initial ideas

Cooking, common stock of ingredients,

1 person will pass ingredients to other to be cut and added, and this goes on back and forth for a while, maybe stop after 10 ingredients?

Then mix/cook, and eat !


The idea here is a person cycling into the forest. This is a stop motion-ish animation being collaboratively performed by two people using Zoom.

The scene and objects are constructed with found objects at home. There are 2 layers used for animation. One is the bicycle layer. This is achieved by using a transparent sheet of glass or plastic supported on the sides. And below is the BG layer. This is to allow independent and easier handling of animation of both layers. A phone is placed at the top to film the ‘frames’.

Music is also playbacked at the same time. Chosen music is ‘Guaranteed‘ by Eddie Vedder.

Assignment 1 ideas

Int space

Idea 1 – listening with intent

  • A rope laid out in a straight line
  • 2 person stand facing away from each other at both ends of rope
  • Aim is to reach middle first by walking backwards
  • Each person has metal dish with a metal spoon.
  • One person starts by quietly walking . There is no timing to when he/she chooses to start .
  • Other person listens carefully, and sounds the dish if he/she can hear the other person walking.
  • If person walking is caught, he/she stops and the turn is passed on to other by sounding of dish a few times
  • This continues till one reaches middle

Idea 2 – trust, communication without words

  • A rope laid out in a straight line, about 4-5m?, on a grass field
  • 2 person stand facing each other at both ends of rope, with both hands holding onto rope in a tug-of-war position
  • both people try to coordinate with each other to lean backwards on an increasingly acute angle while relying on the other for support, without using any words
  • goal is to see how acute an angle can be achieved

Idea 3 – instead of relying on visual for memory tasks, rely on touch

  • there is a table with 10 objects, placed in a big shallow box, with an opaque lid
  • 2 people stand  opposite of each other, one of them blindfolded
  • first(non-blind-folded) person chooses 5 objects and arranges it in a certain order from left to right, he/she has to remember it
  • first person claps, signaling second person to start by touching the objects n memorising the order
  • when done, second person claps, and first person can proceed to jumble up all the items with the other remaining unused objects, then claps again when done
  • second person then proceeds to try and recreate the ordered objects, and claps when done
  • if the order is correct, the first person double claps, and the game is over

Thoughts on: Ch 4 – Body, Personal Relations, and Spatial Values by Yi Fu Tuan

The article talks about a variety of concepts with relation to orientation, scale, spatiality and other units of measurement(distance etc). I found the section about how chosen words can imply certain/specific meanings of particular interest.

Bearing the overwhelming assault of cultures across the globe, via the Internet or New Media, I observe a noticeable change in the way people speak and correspondingly, what they mean. In the 1990s, when someone said ‘Yes I will get it done soon‘, one can expect the ‘soon‘ to mean within a few hours or the day. Fast forward 2020, the same adverb can mean anything from minutes to never.

Similarly, personal encounters have become equally confusing and non-specific. For instance, when someone says to ‘Catch up sometime soon!’, it could mean either of the following:

  • he/she expects an invitation soon
  • doesn’t expect one, and will not respond even if invited
  • will try to avoid invitations with every excuse possible, without being explicitly clear that he/she didn’t meant what was said earlier
  • doesn’t really want to catch up, but just to ‘keep in touch‘, for practical or other reasons

Another particularly common example is also seen in political speeches. In statistically driven statements, true numbers are often obscufated with positive tones of ‘significant‘ or ‘upward trend‘, and equally downplayed negative tones of ‘statistically insignificant‘ or ‘temporary decrease‘.

My point, simply being, how the ‘units of measure’ in daily speech has evolved to an subtly complex, indiscernible, and largely superfluous way of authentic communication. Perhaps gone are the good old days of simple, direct language.