Reading: Critical Vehicles

There are 2 main ideas I pulled out from this reading that I find reflect a lot in Krzysztof Wodiczko’s work. The first is the idea of “Interrogative Design” (which I like!), which is how design should reflect the real world and not work around it.

Screenshot from the reading

In schools, we always are required to work around a problem instead of directly solve it due to us being just the ‘designer’ and not an engineer that is capable of solving problems with complex solutions. This is especially relevant in product design where we have to imagine new ways to use a product while bypassing a problem faced by an existing product. Now thinking back, that is what fuels our creativity, and I would say it is still a somewhat legitimate way to work towards a solution if designing for trivial objects. However, his point is that design should be real and confrontational, rather than avoidant. This is an interesting and relevant thought for my works.

The second main idea is on the need to add meaning and function to public art.

screenshot from the reading

In this passage, the artist basically mentions that public art is useless. I half agree with this as I think commission spoils the artistic freedom of artists, turning the artwork into an awkward blend of artist intention and corporate influence. Its lack of practical function (other than to beautify the space and assert their dominance through richness) also makes it a redundant creation. However, I think that the best kind of art should really be public, perhaps not commissioned, but public. I mean, other forms of art is already non-functional (practically speaking). I find public art to be one of the least intimidating forms of art as they are all very approachable, or perhaps, designed to be approachable. The lack of symbolic meaning frees the work from all the “deep” meaning that artists like to inject in their work, which not just makes their work intimidating and difficult to understand but also not adding important information for the artwork to be at least functional in doing what it needs to do.

I think I understand his sentiments, and I think there are many ways artists can improve on in their works to make it more ‘useful’. This is the same as us designers trying to make the world a better place through solutions and not just “raise awareness“.

I find that the artist’s work “City Hall Tower Projection” in Krakow, 1996 embodied these 2 ideas. The artist’s use of projection and sound onto an exist ‘permanent’ structure also reminds me of previous week’s reading about ‘relational architecture’ that temporarily changes the narrative and meaning of a space through the use of media and technology. 

screenshot from the reading

The idea goes further into transforming the bell tower into a confrontational figure that discusses the unspoken or taboo topics in the country like homophobia and domestic abuse. The belltower acts as a middle person between victims recounting their narratives of said topics and the general public, essentially becoming the voice of the minority.

screenshot from the reading

This turns the architecture not just into a confrontational work, but also a functional one in terms of speaking out the unspoken, providing perspectives of the people’s humanity while also calls for people to reflect upon themselves.


I think the artist have very valid points and I have some similar sentiments with the artists in his view on art and design. I think we all can be a lot more thoughtful in our works in making it serve an objective function.

Reading: Illuminating Embodiment Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Relational Architectures

To Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, permanent architecture don’t connect with people as much as an installation does, even though they are places people visit all the time. Architecture should be a space for day-to-day interactions as well and not just a static entity. He calls this idea ‘Relational Architecture‘, which is the transformation of existing architecture and moulding it into new experiences using projection, sound, visuals, etc. As this ‘Temporary Architecture’ always change with different technologies, the experience will always be different and is much more interactive even though it uses the same space.

I think it is a revolutionary idea that the form of the building itself should also have an interactive function other than just something for us to look at or use (internally). Relational Architecture is something that we take for granted today after seeing the incredible projection mappings on the National Museum and many other transformative projections around open spaces.

Evoking The Sense of Body – Interactive Spaces

IDEA 1: The Spoopy Room

Tech involved: YES: Sensors, speakers, mics, motors

I am afraid of IM room at night as it is usually too dark, nobody comes here, and the lights are behind the door when we open it. With that in mind, I was wondering what makes us scared or creeped out in a space. After some research, I found a few points:

  • Age of the space
  • Stories linked to the space (legends)
  • Attributes that dulls certain sense
  • Uncertainty
  • Prospect: how easy it is for us to move through the space
  • Refuge: how safe we are within the space

The spookiness of a space is associated with physical properties which we evaluate and make psychological connections to an unknown threat.

I feel that fear is a very interesting way to evoke a sense of body as it plays with people’s imagination in filling up the spaces of the lack of a physical presence. Can fear or creepiness transform a familiar space into an ‘unsafe’ space? Can we feel unsafe in a safe space?

From an article by, I found this quote:

I’ve seen the process thousands of times from behind the walls in ScareHouse—someone screams and jumps and then immediately starts laughing and smiling. It’s amazing to observe. I’m really interested to see where our boundaries are in terms of when and how we really know or feel we’re safe. – Allegra Ringo

I thought this is an interesting observation. What makes someone feel safely scared? Perhaps it is the knowledge that the threat is unable to harm them. I want to let people willingly enter and stay in a space that makes them feel uncomfortable so as to make them reflect about their view of the space they are in versus the creepiness I designed for them, juggling between what they think is real and what they think is fake. There are a few considerations to start with. How big of negative (or positive) space would we decide that a space is spooky? How dark or bright would it be? How isolated is it? How rundown is it? What objects are placed within it? What materials are used in the construction of the space? What are the associations to such spaces? What are our cultural beliefs?

These are just some questions to ask. But these are not applicable to what I want to do now as I will be using a familiar space in school (the lounge). But I spent a long time thinking about these before finalising my concept so let me just let those questions stay here? Haha

My Concept

What is the relationship between people and a sense of ‘presence’ in a space? Using a ‘spooky’ setup in a room that visitors are familiar with, I wish to (or at least attempt to) create dissonance between their idea of the space and the space itself to bring about the question.

My Idea

  • Use the school lounge because it is a bustling place in the morning but desolate at night. It is a familiar place for many, yet can also be creepy when nobody is in school.
  • Recording of the past 12 hours to create commotion when at night.
  • Soft background speaker to play the recording to create soft sounds from 12 hours ago
  • Sensors placed at various points to play knocking sounds or giggles or cause movements at some areas of the lounge:
    • Near the tables
    • Sofa area
    • Bean bags
    • Walking corridor
  • These may also be activated at intervals

Note: I’d like to credit The Lapse Project by Inter-mission for the idea of a sound lapse

What it should feel like:


  • Sitting alone should feel uncomfortable with the constant soft chatter in the background even though there is nobody
  • Walking around will cause sensors to operate, causing sounds to play, or objects to move around. (This can be replaced with motion sensors as people are usually stationary in a spot)
  • In the morning, this would have a lesser effect as the lounge is quite bright in the morning. So the location may not work as well (was thinking of a more obscure place like level 2 corridors but nobody really goes there at night anyway) But the sound recorded at night would be so minimal that, perhaps there wouldn’t be any spooky noises at all.


  • Group chatter may dull the experience which can make everyone feel more comfortable
  • Movement causes sensors to operate a lot, may cause alarm at first but annoyance after a while. Perhaps this can be controlled to specific areas that allow people to activate at will. But as a group
  • In the morning it will not do much to groups, but what helps would be the chatter and happenings in the morning that will be recorded so it will be played at night. Visitors that are aware of this can spice things up by making spooky noises.

Overall, it could be packaged as a challenge, although I try to not turn it into a social experiment. I want people to be aware of the intentions of the project and have fun within an interactive space, while also confront the idea of being spooked.

Looking back, perhaps the morning experience can be more active as visitors can affect the outcome of what happens at night with their recordings. This ensures that visitors of the lounge all have a participatory role no matter when they enter the space.

Wrapping it up… (basically summarising what I written above)

Imagine a space that everyone is familiar with: The ADM Lounge. The interactive space will be set up there, and visitors of the lounge will know that there is an installation going on in that location. A speaker will be hidden around the lounge to playback live recordings set to play at a 12 hour delay, so at 3am, recordings from 3pm will be played. A mic would be out in the open, recording everything going through so visitors can voluntarily contribute to the recording. Groups gathering at the lounge making conversations will also be recorded. Some spots at lounge will also have sensors that, once triggered, plays a soft haunting sound, or causes a knock on the wooden pallets, or rotates/moves a soft toy. This will have little effect in the day, so visitors in the day have a more contributing role to the installation in terms of how they create the haunting experience for people using the space at night. At night, the installation comes to be fully alive as ADM quieten down. The soft playback will be audible and the lounge will be filled with softened chatter from 12 hours ago. This creates the presence of people when there is nobody, creating a sense of an unknown entity wandering around the space. Sensors that get activated amplify this effect by creating more audible and tangible experiences for visitors. Overall, visitors should be aware of the entire setup so they are able to think about whether the setup affects them or not. They should be able to evaluate their feelings and responses, and gain some insights about how these sounds and movements affected their experience in a space.

IDEA 2: What We Left Behind

Tech involved: NO

Before I begin with this concept, I’d like to thank Shah and Tanya for starting a conversation about our ideas which led me to thinking about this idea. It is sort of an idea built upon their’s but in a different direction so THANK UUUUUU


We are always leaving things behind, whether we are aware of it or not. Our hair, our marks on metal or glass, our smell, our footprints. We don’t often notice them, but when it gets accumulated, it becomes acknowledgeable. It is through these accumulations that we can feel a presence of people that entered and left. However, that is also when we decide to remove these marks. Sweeping away the debris we leave behind. Wiping away the marks. Doing so, we erase what we left behind over time, only for it to accumulate again. Out of sight, out of mind.

With this analogy, I would like to raise an awareness of what we produce as humans, in terms of the waste we leave behind like plastic, unfinished food, or garbage.

According to this Government website,

Singaporeans produce an average of 800g of waste per day. That’s about the weight of 5 iPhones. Multiply that by the 5.6 million people in our population, that is a lot of waste. With this piece, I aim to bring awareness to our wastage and also offer solutions to help the situation.

My Space

The installation is going to be placed within the CBD area. This is a 3m x 3m cube that is white in colour in the interior. There are mirrors, glass panels, and metal railings inside the space. There are also grates on the floor that collects the hair and objects left behind by individuals.

The Interaction

People entering and leaving will leave behind their odours, firstly. They will be able to explore the space and look around. This can be a space for people to rest in as well. The main attraction is the gutter — it is going to eventually collect enough debris to be very noticeable. There are also panels to help people make the connection between the left-overs and waste. At the every morning, the remaining residues will be swept into the gutter.

Within the space itself, there are also objects to interact with. One can lean on the railing, take a seat on a few of the designated seats that is coated in heat-sensitive paint. Eventually, footprints and damage will also appear inside the room. All these will evoke a sense of presence within a space. As the work progresses, it will be interesting to see how people leave their marks, where they leave them, and perhaps this can create a persona for Singaporeans using an urban space which can help in urban design.

Image taken from

Just for a reference, here is how the space can be artistic and functional which is what I’m going for

Some other things…

Image taken from

I also wanted to further link this idea with the idea of birds and migratory birds dying while in transit in Singapore because they wander into glass-filled urban spaces which disorients them. One very good example is the ADM building itself and the amount of dead birds we can find around ADM. This seems to be a problem that we ignore, or literally sweep away (thanks to the cleaners that clean our city every morning, which is also why I want the space to be cleaned in the morning). Mr. David Tan is one person that collects these dead bird samples to understand where birds are dying and what kind of birds they are. ( I feel that our impact on other animals as humans can be a topic to discuss in the same space too. But I was afraid if that will make the entire concept too complicated, that’s why I want to write that here. I think bringing awareness to the amount of bird deaths is not the only thing we can do. We can teach the world what we can do to help this situation. Within the installation, there can be non reflective stickers on the mirrors to block the view of people looking into the mirror, as like how it would work for birds in real life to re-orientate themselves. We can put railings for people to lean on which works like perches for birds to safely rest on. We can create a low-light environment to hint at a way of lowering light pollution.

One solution that is already in place is the addition of non-reflective strips on glass windows. 

A screenshot of the same article article talks about our school as a hotspot for bird collision
Image taken from

Why is this in the front of ADM when it could be placed in the Sunken Plaza where most birds died in?

Anyway, I was thinking, the artwork can have a plug to help Mr. David Tan in his research by providing the visitors with his contacts.


The experience in this space should be mostly passive but also informative. The entire concept revolves around human waste in terms of our bodies’ sheddings. It serves as an analogy for the physical wastes we created that we sweep out of our existence everyday. To quantify the damage we do to the world. It also serves as an analogy for the wildlife that we indirectly killed as they wander into our urban spaces. Overall, visitors should be able to take away certain messages about awareness and perhaps some information of how they can help.

Siah Armajani: Spaces for the Public. Spaces for Democracy.

Exhibition Review

Seems comfortable to be honest but also a bit weird in terms of form

Siah Armajani’s notion of ‘Common sense architecture‘ created a certain rustic aesthetics for his artworks that speaks about rawness to me. This was perhaps done by mixing both warm and cool materials (i.e. wood and metal) that creates contrast. I’m not sure of its intention other than to use rural-found materials, but it does give off an odd vibe.

Joey taking photos but I also want to capture the metal racks that I like

The materials are also cut in a sharp and straight way. I tested the sharpness of an edge of the Sacco & Vanzetti Reading Room #3 and it was actually sharp enough to cause injury. The intention of the room being for common use, together with the hostility of the materials makes it quite a conflict in me to approach the structure.

I wanted to try breaking the 90 degree rule but Fizah stopped me. I guess the angular look makes it feel more uniform but also uneasy

Still, I love the solidness of the forms he give to the furnitures and the beams that hold up the structures. This leaves me wondering how the material itself can affect the hostility / hospitality of a space.

I don’t understand the pencils so I’m not gonna talk about it

Some other observations:

  • Why did he chose to use bricks to on the floor to welcome visitors into the reading room?
  • Why is everything so 90 degree? Could it be to create the idea of sharpness?
  • The books are welcoming, I wouldn’t mind reading them
  • But the placement of the books are at the bottom, which makes it hard to reach, intentional discomfort?
  • How would it look in an outdoor setting? Would indoor light affect the experience of being in the reading room? Or the other pieces? Especially the pieces with metal, as it is very reflective to light.
  • The hip-leveled sharp metal corners are a potential danger for kids

Another thing that attracted me was the compositions of his Tomb for Heidegger and the Tomb for Richard Rorty which features wooden ‘pens’ that has many holes that allow light in. I think I’m just fascinated with house-like structures that have an interior that one can imagine moving around in.

Also, I really love the computer-generated short films he made. Maybe I’m just a sucker for vintage electronic aesthetics, but there is something very satisfying about seeing computer generated mathematics-based interactions.

I also like his take on public art from his manifesto, particularly these:

“Public sculpture is less about self-expression and the myth of its maker and more about its civicness.”,

“Public sculpture is a cooperative production. … To give all the credit to the individual artist is misleading and untrue.”,

“public sculpture should not intimidate, assault, or control the public. It should enhance a given place.”

Through these, he suggests that there is a higher purpose in art that is in public, which I truly agree on. (if only this don’t just apply in public art) Art and their artists should not be self-absorbed and overly vague, but has a purpose. I think I appreciate what he do a lot more after reading this.


I think this exhibition was quite informative in terms of how we can apply architectural ideas into our interactive spaces. I understand that it is not just the interaction, but also the setting and the feel of a space that makes up an interaction, which in my opinion is equally important to the interaction we design for the users of the space. I think his philosophy is also a good takeaway for me, and I’m glad to know that there are still humble well-known artists out there that truly wants to make the world a better place.

Reading: Peter Zumthor – Atmospheres

Peter Zumthor – Atmospheres

“Atmosphere is an aesthetic category to Peter Zumthor. “

The author finds that the quality in Architecture is not about the academic studies, but rather on whether the building is able to touch people. What makes it touching is a complex blend of many properties that requires an amount of work and thought in it. The reading breaks down on what makes an architecture moving.

“We perceive atmosphere through our emotional sensibility”

I think it’s true that we sense a space with out emotional sensibility at the first instance we step into a space. We can sense the eeriness in a dark street unlike the romantic candlelit room; despite both being dimly lit spaces. There are special properties in each spaces that needs to be broken down for us to understand how certain properties can create different feelings.

  • the physical body of architecture — architecture collects different things in the world, different materials combined to create a space. kind of anatomy
  • Material compatibility — different possibilities of material usage. Objects / materials in reference to one another. complimentary, can cause a change in spatial
  • The Sound of a Space — sound transmission within a space needs to be considered. Personality.
  • The Temperature of a Space — how warm or cold the space feels, which can be altered by the materials used
  • Surrounding Objects — people, their objects, and things placed around.
  • Between Composure and Seduction — people move through space. Bring separate parts together, people form their own attachments. Some spaces make some feel that they can stay, some is just passing through.
  • Tension between interior and exterior — exterior is to be shown to everyone while interior is private. What do i want to see me or someone else using the building later.
  • Levels of Intimacy — proximity and distance. Size, latches and connecting bits, doors. Interior can be intimate even when exterior is intimidating
  • The Light on Things — lighting in a room and shadows. Think about the lighting in a room while designing it. Daylight vs artificial light.

A few takeaway I can find in relation to our course is that the atmosphere of the space should be considered deeply in order for us to setup a successful interactive space. Using the properties above, we are able to (at least) understand the properties and apply it in our considerations when designing an interactive space.

Reading 2 – Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller (by Marjory Jacobson)

What I understood from the reading is that technology can create an immersive experience, used as a way to enhance our senses, imagine a scene that does not exist, even though we thought it exists. It also allow us to share experiences with one another, creating new ways for us to see the world. In a sense, technology can fuel our imaginations, which blends into the real world and thus is able to create a different experience in the same space.

My questions for this understanding are:

  • Is the inclusion of technology an enhancement or a lie? how should we make sense of our altered senses?
  • Is the experience still genuine or a fabrication? Does it matter?

Reading 1: Space and Place (by Yi Fu Tuan)

What I can summarise from the reading  is that space relates to us through its direction, front-ness or back-ness, distances., and eventually languages, which became a major catalyst for cultures to evolve upon.

What I find interesting in this chapter is the realisation that we are so directional-focused in our everyday life. Since the oldest of time, we are so intertwined with 3-dimensional spaces that we based our daily life upon it without thinking about it. Almost everything in our lives are associated with directions, like our sense of time or like our sense of what’s positive or negative.

It is interesting how we can translate physical properties of space into something abstract in language, and we are so able to understand it through associations of its respective physical experiences.