INT 1 – Human+ The Future of Our Species Exhibition Review

Although I could not come along with the class to the exhibition, it was quite nice to enjoy browsing through the works leisurely with another friend. I was quite excited for the exhibition since I have always been interested in the idea of a dystopian future.

I’ve often wondered how the world would be like hundreds of years from now. How far would technology have merged with our daily lives? How far would technology have advanced?

When my parents were young, TV was still in black and white. They were proud to hold handphones the size of a brick, they did not have digital cameras. Yet, thin touchscreen phones, WiFi, and smart technology pervade our lives today and this is what is normal to us now.

It is weird for me to imagine a future where holograms replace screens, or even when space becomes a common holiday destination. Moving pictures and telecommunication were only dreams, witchcraft, almost, to people of the past. But they are now something so common in our lives today. And technology is constantly advancing. How far would it go?

Human+ questions this possible future. What will it be like in a future dominated by artificial intelligence, robots and augmented bodies? They are existing technology, yes, but not nearly as common, currently.

We were greeted by this quote, which made me think of how much technology has infused our lives. I did not realise this as they really have become so common.

The first work that we came across was this performance art by Stelarc, an artist from Australia, who works with his body. In this work, he is strapped onto a robot arm and his body is moved around involuntarily. Up, down, upside down and loop-the-loop. 


I did not know how to feel about this. The robot whooshes and buzzes around, amplifying its dominance. Meanwhile, he is completely relaxed, smiling  and might even be asleep. What is happening??? It looks like it has the potential to be a fun theme park ride though. However, now that I am writing about it, I feel that his surrender to the robot arm is similar to how we sometimes surrender ourselves to technology. We let them pervade our lives, we even depend our lives on technology; think medical stuff. This is actually a great metaphor of our relationship with technology, I realise.

The exhibition continues with a section showcasing various kinds of prosthetics.


From old-school prosthetics to fancy schmancy ones, this section shows how technology has allowed for the betterment of life for those who are missing limbs. From simply making up for a lost limb, we have improved so much that we can afford to be creative and infuse some personality into prosthetics. It has been used in fashion and many other artistic ways, which I think is great because when making art, there is a lot of meaning that we can derive from various experiences.

Sophie de Oliveira Barata, The Alternative Limb Project, 2011-2015, various limbs

Moreover, some prosthetics were even developed to function even better than our natural bodies. This prosthetic leg, for example, was modelled after the hind leg of a cheetah. With these set of legs, she has even competed in the paralympics. What kind of modifications would you have, if you had the chance to? What if improvements can be made to our bodies, would you do it? I can’t help but ponder about the ethical controversy behind this.

Moving on, there were many other artworks and/inventions but I will be writing only about some of the standouts.

These are a set of prints of images taken by Nina Sellars from Stelarc’s extra ear surgery. Yes, the Stelarc that started the exhibition. And yes, an extra ear. On his arm. I can’t help but think of the redundancy of his actions. However, someone has to do it, right? On a side note, I do love the style of the images. The high contrast between dark and light, the theatrical lighting and styling, one might get tricked into thinking this is a staged set-up. But it is not! It was a real surgery and now the ear is a living, feeling part of Stelarc’s body. And people say getting a tattoo is a commitment?


Ah, Neil Harbisson. Our beloved colour blind cyborg. He has somewhat acquired synesthesia, since he can perceive colours through sound waves emitted by his antenna right into his brain. He has since co-founded The Cyborg Foundation, an international organisation that aims to help humans become cyborgs, defend cyborg rights and promote cyborgism as a social and artistic movement, along with Moon Ribas, who herself experiments with different cybernetics to enhance her perception of movement.

The both of them no longer only use technology as an aid in their creative processes, they have become one with technology, and these devices have become an extension of their capacities for sensation and perception.

This blows my mind how this could actually be a plausible future. Would handphones be a thing of the past? Will we be able to communicate with others simply through thinking it, through a chip implanted in our brains? A scary possibility. But possible.


Area V5 is created by Louis-Philippe Demers, an associate professor from our very own ADM. The robotic eyes follow you as you walk by. It is said to comment on the Uncanny Valley, which is a pseudo-scientific hypothesis that tries to justify the uneasy feeling humans experience with robotic agents. I think that this work is really cool and it does bring across the idea of becoming uncomfortable with interaction with robots.

The next work is called TEASE, an interactive installation by students from Nanyang Polytechnic’s School of Interactive & Digital Media.

Mechanical body parts are “attached” to displays of people. It seems that by touching these body parts, a reaction will be shown by the human displays. We are however, free to interact these body parts in any way we want. We can tickle it, scratch it, squeeze it. Although it was considerably difficult to get any reaction from these digital humans, it was quite fun to try to get reactions. When it was time to move on, we realised there was another part to this work!

Behind the wall, there were three screens in relation to each of the screens at the front! These were recordings of us when we were teasing the body parts, lagged quite a while. This came as a surprise and I felt a hint of embarrassment as I find out what I look like when I’m trying to get a response.

I really liked this work as I could play around with it and the idea behind it was quite clear. If the sensors worked well, it would have been really fun to see the different reactions of the humans on screen.

This was another example that shows how technology has become a huge part of our lives. While the artist received criticism, saying that taking care of a child is a mother’s duty, and that a baby needs our physical care, I don’t think that the artist is fully wrong because she was only trying to find a way to cope with the business of raising a child and normal life. It can be overwhelming and parents can have no sleep at all, even though they are still expected to work or continue on with their lives as per normal. However, the reality is that babies do take up a lot of time and it can be tiring. If it is safe and can get mommy a better night’s sleep, then why not, right? Just my two cents.


This is a piece which I found quite meaningful. Called an improvised empathetic device (I.E.D.), the wearable device inflicts physical pain to the wearer by driving a needle to the wearer’s arm every time an American soldier’s death is reported, with the LCD displaying details of the soldier and his/her death. This is an interesting way to remind people of mortality and empathy. Oftentimes when we hear of someone’s death, it is not easy for us to feel empathetic when we don’t know the person. However, this device reminds the wearer to care. Somehow we share the same physical pain, and this improves our ability to empathise.

Here is a series of photographs by another ADM professor, Robert Zhao Renhui!

Here on the left we can see a model of the Euthanasia Coaster, a roller coaster designed to take your life. It is theoretical though, and I don’t think that it will be constructed, at least not anytime soon, but I have to admit that it is a very intriguing concept. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of it, I have actually read about this somewhere else. But it was great to see the model and look at the designs in real life.

As a roller coaster enthusiast, I was naturally attracted to this work. The idea was that if we could take our lives in a fun way, why not? For those seeking for a last thrill in life, this may be the answer. However, the roller coaster does not take your life away that quickly, which, I think to myself, might be a little inconvenient as your brain gets shaken in the skull so hardly you would pass out and slowly die (at least this is my understanding of how it works). There is a reason the coaster is only theoretical. Still, an interesting concept.

This next work also caught my eye since I like to think of how we can maximise harvesting energy, since there is a possibility that our natural sources would soon deplete. I find myself thinking, what if the floor can harvest energy from our footsteps, wouldn’t that be great, and other things.

This coffin converts our corpse into bio-fuel that in the future, is contained in a battery, and we can choose for it to power anything that we would like. We could choose to power a watch, a flashlight, a toy, you name it. Part of the work is a list of responses from different people. What would they want to power, and why? I find that the items they chose were in a way an extension to their identities and personalities, which was fascinating.

The last work that I am going to write about is about genetic engineering. These realistic models of babies show a future where gene modification is prevalent. However, very physical changes can be seen. From gill-looking extra orifices to an amputated toe, these modifications are supposedly made to improve the quality of life for these babies.

This of course, raises ethical questions. What draws the boundary between acceptable and unethical? It has been done today. It seems acceptable when what we are trying to do is prevent the baby from being born with a crippling disease, but what about choosing a baby’s gender or giving the baby a sharper nose, or blue-coloured eyes? Would that be ethical or would that be called playing God? It will be interesting to see how genetic engineering’s future folds out.

There were areas where you could try out virtual reality and also meet-and-greet sessions with Nadia, a robot developed by NTU, but sadly I did not come during available times. However, overall, I enjoyed the exhibition, and the topics explored in this exhibition opened my mind and raised questions in my head. How else can we perceive the future through art? 




4D (II) Exhibition Review 2 – Elysium Artists for the Arctic

When I was just a child, my favourite season was winter. The idea of ice-cold snow falling and covering the earth in white was a dreamy concept for me, having grown up in a tropical city. I’d imagine making friends with polar bears, going fishing in my fur coat and boots, and coming home to my comfy igloo.

While the fascination has worn off a little, I am still amazed by the Arctic, and would really like to visit it at least once in my lifetime. However, with global warming, my dream is threatened to stay what is is – a dream. I found out about “Elysium Artists for the Arctic” that is being exhibited at ION Art through an online promotion. It seemed to address my worries about my dream:

Elysium Artists for the Arctic began as an epic expedition to the high Arctic in August 2015. An explorer team of the worlds’ most renowned and respected photographers, cinematographers, explorers, artists and scientists, spent three weeks travelling through Norway, Svalbard, Greenland and Iceland, in an effort to both qualify and quantify human-induced climate change in the Arctic. Regarded by climatologists as one of the most enchanting and critically important ecosystem on our planet, the Arctic is not only fragile, but under severe threat from the warming of the world’s climate. 90% of earth’s most respected scientists agree that human activities are the principle driving force behind our current climate crisis.

– ION Orchard Webpage

Since I was going to be in the area anyways, I decided that I might as well visit the exhibition. After going to pick up my new phone (this is why I have my own pictures for this exhibition!!) from an aunt who helped to bring it to Singapore, I made my way to ION and headed for the gallery.

Greeted by a series of panels explaining the exhibition in short, I was excited for the films or documentaries that were said to be included in the list of works.

There were paw prints on the floor, so I followed them in. 

These two sets of photographs were on the corridor on the way into the main space.

This is what the entirety of the space looked like (there’s more on the right side of this picture) The paw prints led me in a circular path along the walls where the photos were hung, with quotes printed under them in varying sizes. 

Here were some that stood out to me:
I feel so scared for the little polar bear, clearly forced out of its elements just to hunt for its survival!

I love the pictures of the icebergs, they are beautifully captured, illuminating the deep sea.

Some evoke empathy in viewers.

I like the placement of the photographs that illustrate a story about the polar bears.

There were also two videos playing in different sections.  

Since the gallery was closing, I couldn’t stay to watch the entirety of the videos, but the idea I get is that they were showing some footage of their exhibition, with polar bears roaming around sparse snowy mounds and audio of different people explaining the Arctic’s demise. 

Overall, there were some photographs that stood out and made me wonder about the fate of the Arctic and our world in general, should we continue to be negligent about changing our destructive ways.

However, I do think that the exhibition was lacking in a number of ways that undermined its potential to stir up a more concrete response from the audience.

First of all, I felt that the usage of space could have been much better. Instead of just going around the walls, maybe they could have partitioned the space into areas that showcase different parts of the Arctic, such as icebergs, glaciers, polar bears, and seals separately. This arrangement would feel less random and would make use of the empty space in the middle better.

I also felt that if they maybe dimmed the lighting and use spotlights on the photos and quotes, it would create a darker and more serious mood, in accordance with their message.

The videos could have been much more engaging too, I feel, as they were presenting the facts in a monotonous manner. They could have played more with the use of music and not just spew out facts. I also think that the videos simply being played on the standing TVs, with no specific area dedicated to them, weakened their impact.

It would have garnered more attention if they were played with projectors on the walls.

All in all, I like the message they are trying to bring through, but I feel that the exhibition did not do their expedition justice. I understand that there may be limitations not known to the audience, and this is what they could come up with. The paw prints did bring a small element of interactivity, though.

It is hard to believe that the Arctic truly is melting and that there is a possibility that future generations may only know of it through history books.

After going for this small exhibition, I learnt quite a number of things about art presentation and how this could affect audience’s perceiving of our work. I really think that although the space was small, the exhibition could have so much more impact than it has now, if the presentation was enhanced!

4D (II) Exhibition Review 1 – Lock Route

I visited Gillman Barracks a couple of weeks ago, and just a heads up, the pictures here are taken from the internet and from the artists themselves, because I lost my phone and therefore couldn’t take any pictures myself cry.


There are quite a lot of exhibitions going on at Gillman Barracks and the one that stood out was the public LOCK ROUTE, which is accessible 24 hours a day. There were 16 works by 15 artists/collectives, and they were spread across the outdoor area of Gillman Barracks. 

Curated by Khairuddin Hori, LOCK ROUTE is inspired by the 24 km march taken by ‘graduating’ army recruits in Singapore. It also makes use of Gillman Barracks’ history of being of former military use. 

It is really interesting to see the outdoor works and I love the interactive qualities they have. Many families were also there and there were plenty of children running around and playing with the artworks or looking at them with wonder.

Spread over a large area, it is actually quite time consuming to visit every work, so for some of the works, I simply had a short look. I will write about some of my favourite ones (and include pictures of whatever I can find on the internet!)

Ok so first up here’s a random video I found on Youtube that shows all 16 works (although not very clearly)

I’ve always had a fascination for large-scale artworks, so “Land of Shadows” by Cleon Peterson really captured my attention.

I love how minimalistic the style is, how the white building is being engulfed by the black figures, and how they were wrapping around the walls. It makes me think of possibilities of stories behind it, why do they look like they are fighting, what are they doing? Are they trying to protect the house? What is happening?

I also like the fact that it can conjure up such a response from me despite how simple it is. Moreover, the style is unique to the artist, just as Keith Haring’s human figures are iconic.

“Constellation of One” by Kirsten Berg also caught my eye.

both from

Set against a natural backdrop, the mirror geometrical sculpture indeed looks out of place. It was fun to look at, as the many convex mirrors, along with flat ones, reflect an interesting view of the surrounding. The shape itself also makes me think of whether it is from outer space and induces a child-like wonder in me. (Especially with all the kids making funny faces around me)

“Kampung Singa” by Sheryo is a structure that allowed for people to go in, there was a small cosy space inside with plants hanging from a ceiling that allowed some light to pass through.

“Goyang Cukur” by indieguerillas also caught my eye. Apparently, during some sessions, real barbers would be there to give haircuts! I didn’t witness this, but I imagine it’d be a fun experience. I also like the colourful nature of the work and the cacophony of materials used in the sculpture/installation. I noticed that the human puppets are reminiscent of Indonesian wayang kulit puppets (shadow puppets), and it turns out that the artists that make up indieguerillas are from Indonesia!

Looking at everything, I’m not really sure if LOCK ROUTE had a specific theme or any reason why Khairuddin Hori chose to exhibit them together, but I had fun walking around to discover artworks that were around the corner, or going up small hills to look at the works in closer detail.

A particular takeaway from this exhibition is the interactivity. I’ve always liked interactivity in artworks because personally, it engages me more and makes it more memorable, and this was a memorable exhibition indeed. Interestingly, I think that I had more fun there because many kids were present. Them having fun around the artworks brought the mood up and made me enjoy the artworks more too.