Week 10: The Movement of Plants and Animals

Although I would say I don’t have a specific favorite fruit, vegetable, spice, or flower, for the purpose of this journal I will be writing about the kamboja tree/flower, or more commonly known as the frangipani/plumeria.


Frangipani, William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings


As a child, I used to go for Balinese dance lessons and while I stopped at age 6, these lessons and the Balinese culture had left a lasting impression in my memory. I would meet up with my dance teacher whenever I get the chance to go to Bali, and there the streets would be littered with kamboja trees. I remember I loved getting ready for the performances – my mom would put on makeup for me and my teacher would dot my temples with white paint and put flowers in my hair. These are the bunga kamboja, as we call it. (Pictured right is me and my mom)


To me, the kamboja is indigenous to Bali. However, after some googling, I found out that to others, they might relate the flower to Hawaii – which made sense to me. Little did I know, we were all wrong! The kamboja/frangipani is in actuality, indigenous to the South Americas, specifically Mexico, in the 19th century. Others claim that it was brought over to the Americas from the Caribbean by Spanish priests.

I also found out that the kamboja is significant in many cultures – it is even the national flower of Nicaragua!

Reading up about the kamboja, I’m glad to know more about this nostalgic flower, but to me it will always be a reminder of Balinese dance and the simpler times of my childhood.

DOW – Senses: Project Sense

Sense is a concept design by CD&I Associates created back in 2009. It aims to provide users with a more immersive experience while online shopping, watching movies or playing games, amongst other screen-using activities. Sense aims to provide haptic, thermal and olfactory sensations in addition the the visual and auditory outputs of the common screen.


It would extend the virtual world even more and would expand boundaries between the real and virtual worlds. Users can be engaged more through giving feedback to more senses.


There would be a limit to the variety of sensations that the device would be able to reproduce, and it is unclear whether it would be effective or useful at all.


This would be very interesting if developed for virtual or augmented reality. There is much to explore on the possibilities of creating a very real virtual world. However, the interface must be developed to be more than just a screen/tablet interface. How do we replicate sensations and movements?


While on the topic of senses, I came across this book called Designing Across Senses by John Alderman and Christine W. Park, whose first chapter is available on Safari.

The senses are the (only) ways that we have of experiencing the world. Understanding how they work is key to designing new interfaces. They can also be extended by technology, with sensors that can go places, stay alert, and perceive things that we can’t. These design methodologies expand upon existing practices and introduce some new ones. Both the human capacity and device capability for multimodal combinations and activities is near limitless.

It opened my eyes to the fact that we experience the world through our senses. The information received from our senses is then processed and meaning is extracted from it to take action and make decisions. Every experience is multimodal: understood/processed through a combination of different senses.


Devices also have modes. They are usually created based on specific types of physical information. Other than visual interfaces, speech, touch, olfactory, haptic and gestural interfaces are now very commonly found in many devices.

Many different kinds of human behaviour can now be used as input and be processed into various kinds of outputs.

Much of interaction design relies on how each sense works individually and on abilities that emerge from how we integrate them together. Mapping sensory modalities to interface modes correctly can mean the difference between a cohesive experience and a disjointed one.

After reading this chapter, I realised how in design, it is important to revolve around the human senses as it is what we experience the world through, and that by engaging different senses in different ways, there is much we can do to explore the human-device interaction, or even human-human interaction through devices.

Free Writing – Incense Burner as an Elephant with a Rider

The object that I have chosen is the Incense Burner as an Elephant with a Rider.

Incense burner as an elephant with a rider. China, Jingdezhen, around 1620 to 1644. Porcelain.

I found this artefact striking in a whimsical way. It seems to be unconventional in terms of shape, and both the human and animal figures are very stylistic. The man’s pot belly, slanted almond eyes, facial hair and robes somehow remind me of wealthy Chinese men or drunken gods often depicted in movies. Another interpretation could be that the figure is sitting cross-legged in a Buddha-like pose, atop what could be seen as a lotus flower due to the petal-like patterns underneath him.









The elephant did not seem like an elephant to me primarily because of its ears, which are neither fan-shaped or big. Along with the tusk and the short nose/trunk, I thought the animal better resembled a warthog. Moreover, the depiction of short hairs on the animal is more descriptive of a hog’s hairy body compared to an elephant’s wrinkly skin. The relative size of the human to the animal also adds to it making more sense to be a warthog than an elephant to me. Otherwise, it might just look like a very whimsical, stylistic choice to portray the elephant in such a way.

There is a patterned symbol on its side, which might be a depiction of some things, but I am not sure of its significance or meaning. The elephant is also painted in a paler blue compared to the darker blue used for the human figure. This might have been done to direct more attention to the human figure, or it could have also been to signify the higher status of a human compared to an animal.


The form of the artefact confused me at first because it does not look like what I thought an incense burner would look like. After finding out that the portly man was just a cover, and that the elephant’s body would be the incense holder, it made more sense to me.

After a little more research, I found out that the oval symbol/pattern on the sides of the elephant were supposed to be decorative blankets covered in a vajra symbol alongside pearls and florets.


The vajra is an ornamental symbol that appears in Indian, Buddhist and Jainism mythology. Adorned by the elephant, it symbolises the resolve to apply Dharma, which is the teachings of Buddha. Seeing that the incense burner is usually used for religious purposes, the symbol seems to be in place.

This incense burner was supposedly owned by a Japanese client, and the both him/her and the creator might have never seen an elephant before, hence the whimsical image. Despite the anatomical inconsistency, the image of the elephant itself is exotic and hence would have given this artefact a certain value to it.

The white elephant is also the mount associated with the Buddhist saint Samantabhadra, the virtuous protector of the Buddhist Law. The portly figure that I previously likened to wealthy Chinese man or drunken gods could also allude to Maitreya, the Buddhist god of happiness and contentment. However, Maitreya is usually depicted with a sack of his belongings and a bald head.

The blue-haired elephant and figure hence do not exactly fit the possible references, but still has positive connotations through its general symbolism.

As a ko-sometsuke (old blue and white), which is a name for 17th century Chinese blue and white porcelain exported to Japan, this incense burner is one of many examples of the usage of the rider and mount symbol. Other animals include toads. The elephant is also widely used in other wares, and along with other animals, are represented in a comical and/or awkward way, like the pig-shaped dishes (check out Kimberley’s free writing on this). This rider and mount form is also similar to the kendi, a vessel used for communal drinking primarily known in Southeast Asia (check out Dawin’s free writing on a frog-shaped kendi).

When I first saw the artefact, I thought the holes apart from the one on the mouth were signs of damage, but apparently they were intentional, to let the smoke out.

Another cool thing that I found out was that “mounting the elephant”, or “jixiang” in Chinese, is a homophone for “auspicious” and therefore the symbol of the rider and the elephant became a popular theme in the porcelain wares.

Overall, after reading up, I found out many interesting things behind this artefact that tells me about the possible significance behind the usage of the symbols and iconography, and the relationship between the Japanese and Chinese in terms of trade relationships and influence over motifs and designs.


Area360 Inc. Incense Burner as an Elephant with a Rider – Asian Civilisations Museum. Accessed October 20, 2018. https://discover.acm.stqry.com/v/incense-burner-as-an-elephant-with-a-rider/s/45646827-0004-4d3a-957c-bda15518efad.

“64. Rare Kosometsuke Elephant-Form Incense Burner 青花(古染付)象形瓷香爐.” Rare Kosometsuke Elephant-Form Incense Burner 青花(古染付)象形瓷香爐 | Kaikodo Asian Art. Accessed October 20, 2018. http://www.kaikodo.com/index.php/exhibition/detail/magnificent_obsessions/206.

Admin. “Vajra Symbol.” Ancient Symbols. Accessed October 21, 2018. https://www.ancient-symbols.com/symbols-directory/vajra.html.

Week 7: Visiting the Asian Civilisations Museum

It’s so difficult to choose a favorite object! I liked different artefacts for different reasons – the colours, the materials, the stories behind them!

Also, I didn’t get to look at everything in detail as I had to rush off for a quiz back in school. Due to that, I didn’t get a chance to take pictures either!

However, I have some memory from when I visited the ACM a previous time, and I remember that one of the artefacts that caught my eye was this box (I shall make use of the available online database)

Mother-of-pearl casket, gilded silver pins and mounts, 16th century, Gujarat, India, collection of Asian Civilisations Museum

The casket is made of teak and covered with mother-of-pearl plaques held in place by small gilded silver nails. The lock is made with openwork silver, with leaves and scrolls. The central plaque is embellished with engravings and niello, of rich floral motifs. One of the most attractive aspects of this piece is the magnificent quality of the mother-of-pearl plaques which have a natural pinkish-blue hue. The finely engraved gilded silver appliqués on the sides are later added and exhibits a strong European influences. This casket may have been made to store valuables such as jewellery, but were sometimes also used as reliquaries for religious items.

– Roots.sg website

Mother-of-pearl is a natural material that has been used since the earliest human civilisations. Famed for its unique, iridescent lustre, it has been used for various decorative, ornamental or in the past, ritualistic purposes. I personally think that it is a beautiful material, and I’ve always admired the precision and attention to detail on handmade objects/works.

The casket did not seem very Indian at all, due to the patterns and the engravings which are more reminiscent of European motifs, like the fleur-de-lis, that remind me of a coat of arms.


They were probably made by Indian craftsmen who were influenced by European styles, due to the trade relationships, or might even have been commissioned by the Europeans themselves, therefore the styles are adjusted to better cater to the European market, or for upper class Europeans who were living in India at the time.

Overall, I love the intricacy involved in the creation of this casket, and I think that the handmade quality gives it that much more its value.



Hyperessay #1 – Private vs Public: Surveillance, Privacy and Identity


The Internet is a wonderful place. It brings us unlimited connectivity, unlimited history storage, and unlimited sharing of information, amongst many other great advantages, for the good of living beings.

However, we cannot ignore the fact that the Internet, too, allows for unlimited access to all sorts of data, which sparks debate about privacy, access to open-sourced terrorism, and blurs the line between the ethics and responsibility of actions taken over the Internet.

The format of our final project will be a scripted live broadcast (unknown to the audience) that revolves around surveillance and cyber security. We will be using hacking (data transmission) and authenticity over the internet as our main focus in the broadcast. A virtual space creates a social situation without traditional rules of etiquette. The lack of immediate or physical consequences emboldens people to engage in behaviour unlikely seen in real life.

Our final project aims to act as a prompt for the audience to analyse / think of these issues deeper, about the existence of these malicious intentions and how they can protect themselves from it, be it by simply covering their cameras on their devices when unused, or being more aware of cyber security and being more responsible for their own privacy over the internet, at the very least.



Clarita’s Facebook is hacked by a mysterious person. The hacker uses the live stream function on her phone, and proceeds to access Clarita’s friend list, asking viewers to choose someone, which ends up being Ling Ern. The hacker reveals that he/she will prank Ling Ern and shows the process of hacking into Ling Ern’s phone and accessing her phone camera.

Ling Ern, on the other hand, is broadcasted on Clarita’s Facebook live stream without her knowledge. To draw Ling Ern’s attention to her phone, the hacker sent a notification which prompts her to look at her phone, giving the live audience a view of Ling Ern’s face. The hacker proceeds to carry out a couple of pranks (may or may not be decided by audience) that might end up devastating for Ling Ern (like hacking her bank account or something serious).




  • The Pirate Cinema (Nicolas Maigret)


This work depicts the idea of surveillance and cyber security where everyone viewing the art piece is actually indirectly spying on the activities of the community torrenting different types of videos online. This makes the audience forced/unintentional voyeurs.



  • Bold3RRR (Jon Cates)


Jon Cates: http://www.saic.edu/profiles/faculty/jon-cates

Website: http://systemsapproach.net/innerindex.html

In this work, Jon Cates shares his work processes on live streaming. This allows the audience to openly view his artistic processes. In our final project, we want this sharing of real-time work processes over the third space to be depicted too.


  • Open Source Studio (Randall Packer)




Interactive collective narrative where audience can have the opportunity to decide what happens to target, being involved in constructing this narrative.

Third space and open source network allows us to rethink broadcasting and artist’s studio then and now. We are shifting towards peer-to-peer broadcasted art that creatively joins virtual and physical spaces with technical imagination, conceptual thinking, social sensibilities with live media art made by “artist-broadcasters” exploring a collective approach to Internet streaming.



  1. Explores the vulnerability of users and factors that lead users to fall prey to hackers: Through identifying reasons for data breaches, theft of personal information and invasion of privacy.
  2. Invoke audience to rethink about their own actions- whether they take responsible steps to protect themselves on the internet. For instance: Not reading the terms and agreement on social media websites fully and agree to them right away.
  3. Ways in which PDPA (Personal Data Protection Act) play a part in protecting users.
  4. Identify potential dangers of technology and devices nowadays where tracking user’s activity on devices, pictures, messages is prevalent as well as selling information on activities to third parties.
  5. Raise awareness about cyber security and highlight the possibility that anonymity will prob­a­bly be a lux­ury com­mod­ity one day. It will be lux­ury that one’s own tracks will not be recorded.



  1. Explores motivation for hackers in terms of: anonymity, fun, monetary gain, power play, voyeurism
  2. Identify the kind of loopholes that allow hackers to make use of people’s accounts online.
  3. Intention of hackers changing their identity (identity transformation) as well as the characteristics of the internet that allows that to do so.
  4. Invoking the audience to think about ethical boundaries when third parties are only accessing data through parameters that are technically allowed by the victims through agreeing to the terms and agreements.
  5. Drawing parallels between hackers going through personal data and companies selling data of their users.



Micro Project 6 – Glitch Aberrations

For this micro project, I decided to use a photo of a stock picture perfect family. I chose one with a watermark on purpose as it enhances the unbelievable / unrealistic / fake / silly quality of the concept of a perfect family. The family composition reflects my real family: parents and 3 daughters.

The series of glitches debunks the idea of a perfect family, because no one is perfect, and no family is perfect. Each letter, symbol, or character that is moved around in the code represents the many events that happen, the actions taken, and the words exchanged in a family. While many are of a positive quality, many are also of a negative quality. With every negativity exchanged, the perfect family becomes less perfect.

Eventually, this idea of a perfect family turns into something that is completely different, and that’s okay, because every family is unique, just like how the picture is now unique after its glitches.



At first, I cut individual letters from different parts of the code and pasted them together in one space creating the text “PERFECT FAMILY”.

It created an interesting composition where the father’s eyes got edited out/displaced. The colours also became more saturated and neon-like, almost saccharine, amplifying the happy mood from the original picture into something psychedelic. Can any family be this perfect?

Then I added “DOESN’T EXIST”, and the image glitches into a warped version that seems to destroy the idea of the perfect family.

Next, I added “OR DOES IT?” at another section of the code.

At this point the image glitches into a clearer version of the family, but just in a different colour, and the lines became finer and more even. This improves the possibility of the existence of a perfect family.

Then I added the different components of a family: daughter, sister, mom and dad. I tried various ways of adding letters to the code, whose meaning is open to interpretation.

I didn’t include any son or brother because I do not have a living brother.

As you can see, the image does not warp too much with these changes.

Other than that, I also tried randomly copying a part of a code and copy-pasting it multiple times to fill the window with that particular part of code.

I also constructed a word with another phrase through composition.

Lastly, I kept on cutting and pasting different parts of the code to other parts, and/or copy-pasting code multiple times to distort the image until I was happy with it, until the image can barely bee recognised.

Week 5: Engaging with the Past

There are many different art forms that tell many different stories. As we become more and more open to ideas, artistic expression no longer has any bound. I think this is beautiful, and exciting, because while new media are being discovered, and people start discussing about new subjects, there is absolutely no wrong in reutilising old or traditional media, and continuing to explore existing subject matter. I think that with every artistic expression, there is a certain knowledge that is found or explored, be it something new for the world, or the artist’s own self-discovery.

Team 2’s presentation touched on how contemporary artists use Mughal miniatures as a medium, and transformed it to include their own interpretations or meanings. This is something widely done in the present too. Other than mediums and material, I also find it interesting how the approach towards different subject matters have evolved through the years.

A huge, complex subject matter is beauty. The notion of beauty in living and non-living beings has greatly changed throughout the years, and is still very varied through different cultures and opinions even until now. Through history lessons, we were taught about how beauty was perceived and appreciated.

In the case of humans, well-known artworks are David and Venus de Milo.

From romanticism, impressionism, abstraction, pop art, abstract expressionism, to performance art, beauty has been explored in many different ways in different cultures, regions, and time periods.

Today, I think that beauty is no longer bound by standards. The world is increasingly open and accepting that diversity is beautiful in its own way. This is reflected in many art works whether in traditional media form, or more modern media such as films and photography.