Thoughts: Rafael Lozeno Hemmer – Illuminating Embodiment

Illuminating embodiment talks about how the human body is entangled in all life and meaning, which has led to works that highlight or expand on this entanglement. Rafael Lozeno Hemmer is one artist who has used this concept to create enlightening works that reimagine the relation of humans to architecture, and humans to technology. One work which has caught my attention is Displaced Emperors, where Rafael Lozeno Hemmers used human interaction with technology to reconstruct views of the Habsburg Castle in Linz, Austria. Participants were to point at the facade, which activated 3D sensors, revealing a projected hand, and whenever the hand moved, a projection of the interior of the structure was shown, bringing life and history to a piece of architecture that was once in its glory. The artwork also enabled people to feel more connected to a historical structure, which increases their empathy towards their culture and their history. The human entanglement is then emphasised by allowing humans to interact with a structure that was built by the same kind.

The reading mentioned: “These elements provided pleasurable sensual experiences for the participants and create surprising associations between distant geographical and historical settings, stimulating the user to mediate on other buildings, other histories, and other ways of cultural commemoration.” This reminded me of the Singapore Heritage Light Up Singapore event, where certain landmarks across Singapore were lit up in the country’s national colours – red and white – to commemorate its independence. Not only was this a celebratory action, but it also served as a connecting point for Singapore’s history, and the individual building’s history. Just like how revealing projections on Habsburg Castle helped to revive distant connections in history, the lighting up of certain landmarks in Singapore helped to connect different points of history and weave out a certain story of Singapore.

I do feel that in terms of interaction, Displaced Emperors still was able to engage the people in a more personal sense, through physical interaction of the building (using 3d sensors). It would be nice to see Singapore’s future light-up events to involve these forms of interactions, which could be effective with the current safe distancing measures.

SKETCH: The Calm-pen

Link to PDF here


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

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.