SKETCH: The Calm-pen

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My initial thought of home was a place of trust as I lived in a small space with my mother, and our actions are completely open, to the point where our private and emotional spaces are merged with each other. Thus, the space I call ‘home’ is a place where I forget all my worries and am able to be truly me. In a world where we show many sides and different personalities, a home space is where there is no judgement and one can truly express how they truly are. Of course, it differs from person to person, as their definition of the physical space of what they call home are different. Some consider their room space a home, where no one is watching them and this space is considered theirs. In my case, not only does the physical space around me defines the whole concept of ‘home’, but also the fact that I share a strong bond with my only family – my mother – that makes this space such a trusting one.

I proceeded to expand on the concept of trust to the resultant feeling of familiarity and comfort. This then helped me to structure my sketch and concept of the Calm-pen.

When I thought of comfort it brought me back to the essence of our childhood and it was probably the time when I felt most comfortable, being oblivious to the harshness of reality and its problems. With the current problems our world is facing, all we want to do is stay in the comfort of a ‘home’ and be oblivious to everything else. Therefore, I would want to make a space for adults to feel that comforting feeling again.

I also explored the concept of a transitional object – an object that helps a child progress from one stage of life to the next. It is an object that evokes a sense of familiarity to family and childhood – thus i wanted to bring back that feeling of comfort and familiarity to us adults.

Therefore, the concept of the Calm-pen was created. Inspired by the concept of a children’s playpen, I wanted to create a comfortable space for adults to lay down and reminisce about their carefree childhood days, using items, smell and sounds to trigger these core memories. The space itself is inspired by the baby’s nursery in Spirited Away (Image of nursery below).

Nursery room from Spirited Away (Studio Ghibli)

The sketch of the space is as follows:

The space I currently imagine is a dome, with dim lighting and the space littered with pillows or soft toys. A scent spray will spray out lavender or baby powder smelling scents across the space, while speakers are attached at the top, playing maybe some lullaby or white noise. The current goal of my space is to transport my participants into a temporary world free from worries and to be comfortable with elements that evoke childhood memories.

I do want to further develop this concept to add in some other complex feelings, or show the vulnerability of some ‘homes’ as compared to others. Ultimately a ‘home’ is a place of both good and bad memories.




Thoughts on: Singapore Heritage Light up Singapore Event

I went over to the Light up Singapore event at the Central fire station and Armenian Church.

What is it that is being communicated?

I’d have to say the solidarity of each building and its significance to Singapore’s heritage and history. At the same time, the identical colours that each building was lit up in showed harmony and togetherness, emphasising that these historical landmarks, together, made Singapore what it is today.

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

They would have to plan the choice of architecture to have the lighting, as well as the accessibility of these locations that would attract the masses. The permissions for this colour and the symbolism of these lights in contrast with the symbolism of the building itself were also essential.

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

Some ideas include:

  • Projection mapping of historical events revolved around the building
  • Having AR reactions through a phone app when the camera is placed on the building (the building comes to life, or characters related to its history pops out from the building)
  • Using sounds of iconic moments that happened at the site to surround the site parameters

The Social Distancing Hat – prototype

I started out by making the base (of radius 1.1m) using cardboard – then realising that the cardboard was too uneven to make a good base. thus i changed to a thinner but more flimsy artboard. I taped the sides together and drew a huge circle and cut it out. Then, I cut out a circle of radius 9.1cm in the middle of the bigger circle (to fit the hat through). I then secured it with masking tape, duct tape and string, with wooden beams and cardboard as support at the underside of the hat. However, it did not turn out the way I wanted it to as it ended up flopping down, instead of being upright. That in itself turned out to be effective too, as the wooden beams at the side of the head still remained somewhat straight It looked similar to a huge summer hat.

Reviews from friends who wore the hat: it was able to give full body protection, and people steared clear of their path.

Below are the pictures and video documentation of the hat prototype.

(above: drawn shape of hat on base of thin artboard)

(above: top of hat prototype)

(above: bottom framework of hat prototype)





Zoom Performance Idea: Funky Portrait Gallery

An idea i had for the zoom performance was to create merged portraits with me and my partner by having different combinations of facial expressions and hand gestures. The purpose of this performance is to create funky portraits and for both performers to have fun with their imagination.

Below is the instructions and the list of gestures.

Thoughts: Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space (1958), Section 4: Nests

The concept of a home space that is compared to the nest of birds was a very interesting concept that I found myself understanding in this reading. Amongst the many poetic concepts and stories that were mentioned in this chapter, what impacted me the most is the human’s way of perceiving what is ‘home’. A very common perception is of a piece of land, in which stands a piece of architecture, and within it stores the materials that pleases the human inhabiting that architecture. The comparison of the house to a nest reminded me of a magpie, which would steal shiny objects to place in their nest, no matter whether it is mismatched or of different quality, as long as it likes the object, it becomes a belonging in its space. Humans, too, purchase items of different size, quality, colour and material to put in their home, to make it filled with items that they fancy. It doesn’t matter if some items did not match, it still had some meaning to the owner of the house.

I really liked the part of the reading where the author mentioned about bringing himself calm when he gets disruptive neighbours, by comparing them to the woodpeckers in a garden. The disruption of the neighbours do make him annoyed, but it also assures him that there are people around him, that this area is nicely inhabited, similar to a garden with many animals. The better the condition of the garden, the more animals and insects the garden will attract, and by comparing that to a house concept, a well-lived home is always one that has many people around.

Using the house to define one’s ‘personal boundary’ is also a concept i understood through this reading. The part of the reading where the author mentioned that a nest was built with the bird’s whole body, and literally made with the heart. Putting your time, money and soul into giving a space a definition, especially one that is closer to your heart, is something that holds high importance in the human heart. That is why we always associate home with a sense of belonging, and the best place to relax and be yourself.

Of course, the perception of a ‘homespace’ does not need to be a physical object (aka the actual house), but some people perceive ‘home’ as the occupants that live in the space. After all, an empty nest without birds is just a collection of branches and leaves to others. This type of ‘home’ transcends the normal structure of what many people think of when the word ‘home’ comes to mind, and instead focuses on the ’emotional space’ between people. The ones that have a stronger relationship may consider their interactions with friends as ‘home’ – that is a sense of belonging.

By putting the concept of a bird nest as an analogy to a human’s house, the definition of a home is now opened up to so much debate, and associations with the deeper perception of space – the ’emotional space’, ‘personal space’ and the relationships between people that affect a home environment – that can be further explored.

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

After reading this particular chapter, I have a deeper understanding on the perceptions of space and how it has evolved from an unknown concept to something that contains multiple meanings and perceptions.

It was interesting to find out the initial perception of personal space through the human body, and his understandings of directions and subsequently the labelled meanings of different directions. It was mentioned in the reading that humans used the perception of their body’s direction of space to define what was front, back, left and right, and this allowed humans to redefine the space of the world, to dedicate the directions of roads, buildings, and even to design recreational spaces such as parks.

Not only did the humans’ perception of space help them define the physical space around them, but it also allowed them to perceive the emotional space between people. And this gave rise to multiple meanings in speech, to define physical space and emotional space differently. In addition, each person’s perception of the meaning is different as well (in the emotional sense). The book used the example of the statement: “we’re good friends”, as the definition can be physically close or emotionally close. Other terms can also be “we’re going out” – it could mean going outside physically or they are dating.

Reflection: Automated Utopia by Bin Ong Kian Peng

On 20 March, designer Bin Ong Kian Peng gave a lecture on artificial intelligence and how it has integrated with art – thus thinning the boundaries that separate art and science.

Artificial Intelligence is very prominent in today’s digitally advanced society, and it definitely has played an essential role in research, projects and everyday life. It has come to a point where all of us rely very heavily on artificial intelligence (robots, facial recognition etc.). It is very interesting how this concept, that is created by science and maths, can be integrated into the visual arts scene as well, especially for interactive installations.

Bin Ong Kian Peng mentioned artist Refik Anadol, whose works I have actually been admiring quite a lot on social media. He creates visually pleasing riveting data installations. He uses the illusion of depth as he always makes the main substance look like it is encased in a box.

Refik Anadol is a Turkish media artist who is currently a lecturer and visiting researcher in UCLA’s Department of Design Media Arts. He works with site-specific public art with parametric data sculpture approach and live audio/visual performance with immersive installation approach.

His Melting Memories exhibition is quite iconic as it translates the elusive process of memory retrieval into data collections, which is then displayed in the installation. American philosopher John Dewey said ‘Science states meanings; art expresses them’. Refik Anadol’s work helps to blend these 2 together to support what he sees as the principal modes of communication in both disciplines. The movements in the artwork is generated through the person’s brainwaves when certain memories are triggered, which activates unique algorithms for the artist to use.

Artificial Intelligence comes in at the communication between the brainwaves and the movement of the work. The usage of cutting edge technology and algorithms help his audience to better understand the power of artificial intelligence when it comes to visual feedback, and also better link them to more foreign topics such as memory collection and the brainwave patterns.

All in all, Bin Ong Kian Peng’s lecture on this topic and also using this artist’s work as an example is a very effective way of showing the strengths of artificial intelligence in the art scene, thus allowing us to better understand the artist’s intentions and techniques.