Thoughts on ‘The Society of the Spectacle’

Amongst this very informative reading, I found one point to be more relatable to me than the rest:

“The reigning economic system is founded on isolation; at the same time it is a circular process designed to produce isolation. Isolation underpins technology, and technology isolates in its turn; all goods proposed by the spectacular system, from cars to televisions, also serve as weapons for that system as it strives to reinforce the isolation of “the lonely crowd”. “

I just felt that our lifestyles are pretty ironic, after reading this particular part of the reading, that we are all slaves to this economic system, in chase of technological items that provide us entertainment and a sense of belonging. We tend to find a manmade item, and through that we watch interactions of other humans, to diminish that sense of loneliness that we feel at times, instead of going out to find people that we can interact with. And yet, we still are too dependent on these items to find solace, to immerse ourselves in an imaginary world of happiness and comfort.

Thoughts on Jurong My Love by Dan Koh

Jurong My Love is a book written by Dan Koh describing his journey along Jurong on a public bus. The book narrates the different changes within Jurong and how it has developed into a bustling heartland, while intermingling with certain memories of the author.

I found this reading quite interesting as I have not explored much of Jurong, let alone know the different aspects of Jurong. By putting the book in the perspective of the author, who has lived in Jurong for a long time, I can better understand how Jurong was like in the past and learn more about its culture through storytelling. The author pointed out some very interesting landmarks in Jurong that are not known to many Singaporeans, and this can better help me with my research for the project.

Inspiring piece of Interactive Art

Led by design team Rombout Frieling lab, Station of Being is an experimental bus station, which transforms the waiting experience through interactive light feedback and pods to lean on while waiting for the bus.

About Rombout Frieling lab

Rombout Frieling Lab is an architecture studio that focuses on design, engineering and innovation. They create environments that seduce us to behave more intelligently by resonating with our deeper needs and by using the potential of the natural world and bodies in particular. They lead complex projects from insight to implementation, with the motto of making matter move.

Concept of Station of Being


With electric buses starting to function reliably, cities worldwide aim to boost the public transportation experience in order to reduce car usage. However, in Sweden, bus stops are usually open-air, and people have a hard time waiting during winter as it is too cold. And a normal bus stop would not make taking public transportation seem very attractive.

Station of Being takes on a naturalistic and clean design, while being able to reflect real-time information on buses, and react to different people and buses. When the bus approaches, a subtle spectacle of light and sounds in the roof is triggered. Every bus line has a distinct signature: buses going to an old glass factory sound glassy; when voices sound the bus goes to the city center.

Hanging pods provide comfortable leaning possibilities. These ‘pods’ also keep the wind away, providing comfort in averse conditions, whilst not needing any power. By turning the Pods around, one could either create various social settings, or enjoy the surrounding nature – a need which was clearly expressed by travelers in the design process and kept the designers away from making an enclosed space.

“In this work we found, for instance, that one of the reasons why people prefer their car above the bus, is the need for privacy and the need to zone off,” 

“This is one of the reason why we invented the wooden pods that hang from the ceiling of the station – the pods allow people to lean comfortably in their own ‘cocoon’, while they can also be rotated to create different settings: social or private.”

The bus stop shows how technology, people and environment can interact to decrease the environmental impact and carbon dioxide emissions. The bus stop is designed in collaboration with RISE Interactive Umeå and will make rapid boarding possible and will also be equipped with smart solutions, free WIFI and other technological data solutions. The design work has included creating a balance between efficiency and functionality and the design itself contributes to transforming the wait for the bus into a positive experience.


I thought that this work is a very good example of integrating Interactive Media into everyday life. Using lights and sounds to represent the arrival of each type of bus allows people to have a more efficient and pleasant experience while doing something mundane such as waiting for a bus. The lights and pods provide good visual aesthetics, which would attract people to come and wait for buses, and good product design of the pods help to block people from strong winds, rain and snow while waiting. Not only is this bus stop an artwork, but it also plays an important role in pushing for increased public transportation, and lesser carbon footprint, as the lights in the bus stop use renewable energy.

A similar work in Singapore would be the air-conditioned bus stop at Plaza Singapura. The bus stop is sealed and there are fans blowing inside the bus stop to keep people cool while they wait for a bus. The difference of that bus stop would attract people to come and take public transportation, rather than their own cars.

All in all, the dual purpose of portraying Interactive Art and lower carbon footprint through redesigning an everyday amenity can attract many people to try it out and gradually learn about its message. Hopefully Singapore can also create projects that deal with our everyday life or change certain environments and amenities for a better cause.


Station of Being is an interactive Arctic bus stop

Thoughts on Lev Manovich’s “The Database” from The Language of New Media

The evolution of information storage and how it affects people interaction with databases is very eminent in today’s world. I do agree with the reading that the rise of technology and the invention of computer databases increase the efficiency of storing different types of information, and it is also more convenient for people to access specific information, rather than heading to a specific location to find the information.

The computer database and the 3D computer based virtual space have become the true cultural forms – general ways used by the culture to represent human experience, the world, and human experience in this world

The usage of new media to store information opens up many doors for artists to coney their artworks digitally and allow the audience to directly access different databases that relates to the message of the artwork. One example that is very relatable for me is the use of websites and hyperlinks to connect databases and interactive works to create a narrative on its own. A small online game that i used to play which uses hyperlinks is a game called Poptropica, where one plays a character that travels to different realms to complete certain missions and solve mysteries. The game also encourages the player to learn the historical knowledge of certain events and items while playing, which is where a historical database comes into play. Instead of them needing to find information themselves in a physical database such as a library, they can get these information easily through a game with a digital database.


Database and Interactive Narratives

Storytelling is a very essential aspect of bringing concepts to people without losing their interest, and this is all the more relevant in the art scene, where artists input storytelling to their artworks to enhance a serious concept and increase understanding within the audience. This post explores a few examples of projects that address the notion of interactive and database narratives in an interesting and thought-provoking way.

Games are a prominent example of interactive narratives. Whether it is computer games or simple board games, people are hooked to playing them because of the interesting plot that each game holds. The desire to find out more at each stage allows the player to spend more time and attention to think about the game. Both physical and emotional interaction is attained when players interact with these games, especially now when devices have advanced to provide a more immersive experience to the players (with the creation of Kinect, Oculus, AR, etc.).  Indie game developer Rusty Lake created a series of interactive narrative games, called Cube Escape, which instructs the players to navigate themselves around a trapped space and solve mysteries which contribute to the overall storyline. I played one of their episodes – Cube Escape: Paradox, and I found the gameplay and storyline very interesting. The game uses simple visuals that are flat, and the player has to fully explore the space by clicking on items and using them to unlock other items in other rooms. Sound also plays an important part in the game. The main soundtrack gives an eerie atmosphere to the game, and there are some clues that were said verbally. These qualities allowed me to be fully immersed in the game, and eager to find more clues to contribute to the full story.

Interactive narratives also include documentaries and movies, such as Terminal Time. Terminal Time is an interactive documentary generator first shown in 1999, and it asks the audience several questions about their views of historical issues. Based on the responses (measured as the volume of clapping for each choice), it custom creates a story of the last millennium that matches and increasingly exaggerates, those particular ideas. This is extremely thought-provoking as this documentary involves both interactivity and database narratives, as different reactions from different audience groups lead to different types of historical events related to the topic. It also shows a combination of deep technical knowledge with clear artistic goals and an understanding of the ways events are selected, connected and portrayed in ideologically biased documentaries.

All in all, these two examples show how narratives can be portrayed in different platforms, but are very effective in conveying information to the audience. They allow us to reflect and think about the artist’s message in a different perspective and thus leaves a stronger impression in the audience.



Marsha Kinder, “Designing a Database Cinema”: Thoughts

In Marsha Kinder’s “Designing a Database Cinema”, the use of database narratives was explained through the analysis of The Labyrinth Project. Database narratives are very essential in providing accurate knowledge of historical events through storytelling. The Labyrinth Project combines new technologies with old events and concepts, such as Tracing the Decay of Fiction, where an interactive game is created to explore Hotel Ambassador and the assassination of Robert Kennedy. Viewers can navigate the space and click hotspots within the hotel to reveal videos and newspaper articles regarding the history and incident.

I feel that database narratives are a very effective way of getting people to learn about the histories of certain sites through the use of storytelling. People love stories, and interesting ways of telling a certain story will maintain the attention spans of the audience. Putting it into a historical context makes information that was initially boring when said in a very factual way, to something interesting, that has a start and an end. Thus database narratives serve as an important tool for educating the masses about their history, their culture, or of about certain monumental events.

In addition, the advancement of technology in present-day paved the way for interactivity to be incorporated within these data narratives. Adding interactivity within a database narrative can allow for a better understanding of the storyline and historic information, by activating the other senses of the audience, rather than just viewing the narrative. By building the storyline through personal effort, the audience is able to see that in a much broader cognitive and ideological sense narrative is also a means of patterning and interpreting the meaning of all sensory input and objects of knowledge.

In a nutshell, database narratives help to boost interest in historical information and also acts as a modern archive, which allows people to learn through storytelling and be able to convey the information in a more efficient way.


Digital Currents: Art in the Electronic Age Reflection

The usage of virtual reality (VR) has been evident in the past and is one of the most prominent advancements in technology in today’s world. In the art scene, VR has played an essential part to bring many artworks into the digital realm, enhancing convenience and the interactive experience.

By implementing different types of gear for different body parts, VR allows people to have a fully immersive experience with the artwork. The most important part being the headset that shows a 360 degree of the virtual environment. There is a huge amount in the flexibility that artists can use in VR as the spaces are infinite and imaginary. One example of VR works that use this space is i-REAL, a hypermedia artwork that mixes the contributions of a trip in virtual reality, a map of JE(U) with i-REAL cards and in the future an artificial intelligence. The board game is the hotspot of the system. It is composed of about thirty i-REAL cards previously developed on the Instagram social network using the maximum of #hashtags available to install links between words / images. The use of three randomly available cards – but renewable – connected to the card JE(U) by an NTFC chip with the help of two dices, triggers the corresponding sequences in VR. To turn the map JE (U) – actually composed of three PART-i that can turn around the same axis – in order to connect the maps and reveal the locations where the keys will open the sequences in VR, the cheek must roll the dice and maybe, in a version 2.0, win the right to tackle artificial intelligence.  (

The use of VR stems from the concept of hypermedia, which was a concept that appeared after the war. It talks about the matter of which the World Wide Web is made. Much like the physical world is built of interacting elementary particles (Bosons and Fermions), the web is essentially a universe of myriad interacting hypermedia documents. But since the early 1990s, the general concept of hypermedia has been largely superseded in popular usage by the term “interactive multimedia.” And this term is now used to portray works that involve the interactivity of the human senses towards an artwork.

In terms of space and conducting of the artwork, VR helps to minimise the physical space needed for the work to occur, as the only gear required is the headset and the gear. It also increases the convenience of bringing the artwork around and the work can be experienced in different environments.

All in all, VR contributes positively to society and is a useful asset to many artworks as more artists pursue digital alternatives.






History of Design Lecture 04 Reflection: The Beauty of International Typography


The ‘International Typographic Style’ also know as the ‘Swiss Style’ is a graphic design style developed in Switzerland, Europe in the 1950s that values and focuses on cleanliness, readability and objectivity.

Typical features of the style are asymmetric layouts, use of a sans-serif typeface and flush left, ragged right text. Many of the early International Typographic Style works featured ‘Typography’ as a primary design element, which means they focused more on typography because it’s the root of communication and then pictures and other design elements comes as a secondary design elements and this is the reason the title ‘International Typographic Style’ has the word ‘Typography’ with it.

International Typographic Design begins with a mathematical grid. These grids are considered to be the “most legible and harmonious means for structuring information.” Using a grid for design makes creating a hierarchy for the content much easier—think web design. Why are so many websites broken into grids? Grids are flexible, consistent and easy to follow. They are clear-cut and work well with ratios (Rule of Thirds, Golden Ratio, etc.). In addition to the grid, Swiss Style usually involves an asymmetrical layout, sans serif typefaces and the favoring of photography over illustrations.

The movement’s innovators combined elements of other artistic trends to create the beauty and simplicity of the Swiss Style that we know today. Elements from Bauhaus, De Stijl and The New Typography are sprinkled throughout the works of Ersnt Keller, Max Bill, Josef-Müller Brakmann and Armin Hofmann—i.e., the pioneers of Swiss Style.

By stripping away the embellishments, Swiss Style eliminates distractions for the viewer and allows the information-heavy design to be read and studied rather than merely seen and admired. Because of this, the typefaces chosen to represent Swiss Style are those that really hone in one the movement’s key principles:

A K Z I D E N Z - G R O T E S K

Akzidenz-Grotesk is a sans-serif typeface family originally released by the Berthold  Type Foundry of Berlin.  Akzidenz indicates its intended use as a typeface for commercial, or “occasional” or “jobbing”, print runs such as publicity, tickets and forms, as opposed to fine printing.

Originating during the late nineteenth century, Akzidenz-Grotesk belongs to a tradition of general-purpose, unadorned sans serif types known in Europe as “grotesques” (“sans-serif” in the US) that had become dominant in German printing during the nineteenth century. Relatively little-known for the first few decades after its introduction, it achieved iconic status in the post-war period as the preferred typeface of many Swiss graphic designers in what became called the ‘International’ or ‘Swiss’ design style of the 1950s and 1960s, and its simple, neutral design has influenced many later typefaces. It has sometimes been sold as Standard or Basic Commercial in English-speaking countries.


Adrian Frutiger, one of the most influential typeface designers of the 20th century, created Univers in 1954. Pulling elements from Akzidenz-Grotesk, Frutiger created one of the first typefaces that formed a font family, allowing documents to use one typeface (instead of several) in various sizes and weights, creating a beautifully simple uniform via text alone. Originally released by Danberry & Peignot in 1957, the family passed through the hands of the Haas Type Foundry before being purchased in 2007 (along with all of Linotype) by Monotype.


Helvetica is a neo-grotesque or realist design, one influenced by the famous 19th century typeface Akzidenz-Grotesk and other German and Swiss designs. Its use became a hallmark of the International Typographic Style that emerged from the work of Swiss designers in the 1950s and 60s, becoming one of the most popular typefaces of the 20th century. Over the years, a wide range of variants have been released in different weights, widths, and sizes, as well as matching designs for a range of non-Latin alphabets. Notable features of Helvetica as originally designed include a high x-height, the termination of strokes on horizontal or vertical lines and an unusually tight spacing between letters, which combine to give it a dense, solid appearance.

Miedinger and Hoffmann set out to create a neutral typeface that had great clarity, no intrinsic meaning in its form, and could be used on a wide variety of signage. Originally named Neue Haas Grotesk (New Haas Grotesque), it was rapidly licensed by Linotype and renamed Helvetica in 1960.