Critical Vehicles: Writings, Projects, Interviews

by Krzysztof Wodiczko

This readings documents Wodiczko’s extensive interrogation of urban environments. His work represents a search for a form of public art and attempts to heal the numbness that threatens the health of democratic process by disruption it, waking it up and inserting the voice, experience and presence of those others ho have been silenced, alienated and marginalised.

The word vehicle is associated with the concept of a carrier. In some dictionaries, it is described as “a person or a thing” used as a medium “to convey ideas or emotions”. It is commonly understood as a means of transmission, display, and expression.

Whereas critical suggests judgement, as act of pointing out shortcomings. It denote a point in which a turning point or crisis that may demand an urgent response or action. He describe critical vehicle as a medium to convey ideas and emotions in the hope of transporting to each human terrain a vital judgement towards a vital change.

There are many projects documents in the readings and I would like to focus on City Hall Tower Projection, Kraków, for this review.

Everybody in Kraków know this tower and everyone has a special relation with it. They see this tower as a lonely, if not heroically alienated but authoritative, stable, protective and trustworthy civic structure. His project here involves having participants to tell their stories through the tower and therefore develop their confidence and power of self-expression through the process. This brings people speaking through the tower to the center of public attention and turned them into strangely prominent public figure.

In this project, he mentioned about public and private space. As people are sharing their stories through the tower, the stories can be painful secrets that they might not be able to share openly but want to reveal it through a “third” person in which is the tower. Sometimes, such truths may be unveiled more safely and more freely speaking in an open agora or forum, protected by the aura of democratic public space than in private. For people who are viewing the projection, it may have been easier to empathise with the person as tower than with the actual speakers.

The idea of using a tower to share something deep inside them is a comfortable way for the speakers as being anonymous and speaking up is easier as nobody will recognised them and even have the chance to judge them. This gives the speaker the chance to be private in a public space.

The tower is actually communicating the loneliness and alienation of someone suffering a nightmares in this case the experience of domestic violence – a norm in Kraków but is rarely communicated in public. I feel that the use of this tower  in Kraków will create a great impact as the tower is known by everyone. Everyone shared something in common in this area and therefore being able to experience the stories even more.

As the projection display the speaker on the tower, they play around with the structure where the face is masked by a huge city clock and their head protected by a gigantic Baroque helmet. This way, nobody will know the identity of the speaker which protects their privacy. Also, he mentioned that the speakers are more willing to share their stories there because due to the nature of the building structure being tall, they felt like it is easier to come clean when they are fifty times taller than someone who abuses and neglected them.

The tower now act as a double for something that is in between human to human and something that can represent their personal experience. The tower manage to convey a powerful message when all the personal experience came to light and were publicly shared through everybody’s tower. Also, they share their stories through recordings and hand gesture such as using everyday objects in the video like performing such simple domestic tasks as peeling potatoes, everyone is able to connect more with them.

I would say that this project is really well thought through as the projection only happens at night from 10.30pm – 12.30am and why is that so? I feel that is it because all the recorded accounts described personal events that took place only at night. Making use of the timing, it will able to bring out the message even better as most people experience the same situation at the same timing.

“How is it possible that one does not believes a person, while one believes the Tower?”

I feel that this sentence where he end this project is really very impactful. Sometimes, people choose to not believe when a stranger or even a friend tells a story but why when the problem is enlarge, suddenly everyone come to a common consensus that the story is true and someone need to do something about it?

Faces Places Review

Faces Places is a French documentary film directed by Agnes Varda and JR. I have never watched film like this before and when I started watching this film, its actually quite interesting and it invites me to want to watch further. Varda and JR collaborate and come out with this playful yet powerful documentary in understand France by looking closely at its people. They travel the country and going to tiny villages in attempt to find good topics for their work.

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Their collaboration work actually brings people in the area closer together and have a common topic to talk about. Just like the work where they invite people to his mobile photo booth and get them to hold one long baguette. When put together on the wall, it feels like the whole village is sharing the same one long baguette. Varda aims to meet new faces and photograph them which works well in this work when the photo booth became a gather point at that moment where people are curious in finding out what is happening and come together to create this wonderful piece.

Visages, Villages

I personally feel more with regards to the last person living in a set of old miners’ homes. Miners were an integral part of the community back then and many people living nearby have a story to tell. These homes are the last link to the history of miners. Varda and JR put together old photographs and taking new photos, they paste the images of people at the exterior of the homes who once live in the homes. This actually brings back much memories to those people who once stayed there where they have a story to share.

A still from Faces Places

The last women, Jeanine who stayed in that area was overwhelmed with emotions when she see the photograph pasted outside her house. To other people, it might just be any other photos but to her, it’s her whole life story. Through the photo, we can only imagine how much she went through but the tears she shed is something we cannot imagine.

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The people they found are all part of the work they are doing and coming out with this film. This film actually makes people feel recognised and it’s about making the invisible visible. It allows the people to feel seen and appreciated through the photos. Every photo have a story to tell and it evokes one’s emotion/memory.

Issues in IM Practice Final Project


Water is essential to life yet water pollution is one of the most serious threats that we face today. Water pollutions occurs when harmful substances contaminate and degrading water quality. This widespread problem not only jeopardise our health through contaminated water but also the marine life.

For my project, I would like to address the problem of water pollution and how it harms the marine life through a projection. The user will experience being in a submarine looking out of the window to have a closer view of what is happening underwater.

Storyline / Graphics

The big picture will be to portray a peaceful underwater scene at the start and slowly transiting into how pollution change the underwater environment. Playing around with the setting like adding a darker filter will also help to change the mood of the whole scene. I illustrated and animated the elements in the scene myself in illustrator and after effects. In addition, the sound track also plays an important role in transiting the scene as I want the second half of the animation to have an impactful change and also to change the mood of the audience.


In order to allow the user to fully experience being underwater, I want the user to be able to go close to the window projection. Thus, having a rear projection is more ideal than placing the projector infront of the screen as the audience will not be blocking the projection.

Type of screen

Doing rear projection required the screen to be slightly translucent as to allow the projection to seep through on the other side, thus the type of screen is important. Using the material available in school, Kristy suggested that I could use the big white sheet of paper that is mounted onto a wooden frame. I tried rear projection on that screen and it works! Therefore, the next step is to think of the orientation/position of the screen and ways to mount the screen.

Orientation/Position of screen

I tried different orientation for the screen to get an understanding of how the audience will feel when standing infront of the screen. Having the projection too high or too low will not give the audience the experience of viewing through a window. Thus, I decided to make it eye level for the audience to have a comfortable view and also the experience of being in a space.

For my final set up, I will be using 2 c stands to support the screen where I can easily adjust the screen to the level that I want.

Final setup

Final Outcome

Further enhancement

Playing around with the space, I want the audience to feel that they are really inside another space in this case a submarine. However due to the size of the room, the audience won’t be able to have the full experience of being in another space. Also, due to the size of the screen not being able to  fully covering the whole room, it will also affects the whole experience.

Thus, working around with the space and changing/adding of projector can also helps create the immersive experience.


Digital Media Design Exhibition 2016
Artwork by Hiroyoshi Asano

Hiroyoshi Asano projected images on the wall and floor surfaces and reproduced “the edge of waves”. He uses actual waves shot of a few beach along with pleasing sounds of the waves coming back and forth. The whole setup give the audience a refreshing feeling of the sea while being indoors.

I feel that being able to bring an outdoor experience to indoor is really amazing where the audience can feel like they are in the actual space. Thus, playing with the space and the way he place the projector is also important factors here in order to achieve this outcome. Having to think of how the audience is able to interact with the projection itself is also a factor to consider.

Digital art museum L’Atelier des Lumières

The new digital exhibition immerses visitors in the painting of Vincent van Gogh. His paintings have been transformed and projected on all the surface of the Atelier. Using art and music technology, it bring the paintings to life and giving visitors an immersive experience.

Having the whole area projected with visuals definitely allows the visitors to feel like they are transported into a different space. However the thinking process must be difficult as to where the projector should be placed. Also having to project on the floors will creates shadow as visitors step into the space, but I don’t really see much shadows from the images found online thus I’m really interested to find out how the whole process works. In addition, I feel that they make good use of the sound to enhance the visitors experience as sound is important in an immersive space.

Workshop by Prof Biju

Prof Biju first allow us to understand how a camera and projector works. He also talked about the different type of lens (15mm, 30mm, etc) and how the image sensor capture the image through the lens. While a projector have light that passes through an imaging lens and project the image.

For a normal projector, the further the screen from the projector, the larger the image projected.

Next, he went on to show us how to keep the image size regardless on how we move the screen. The camera and projector need to be at the same position to cancel off each other. The screen marker on the plane is detected by the camera which send the information to a software where a camera is in the same position in the real world.

We went on to further discuss regarding the reflector and how it manage to detect and play in different angle. It is important to take note of the xyz plane and the need to have multiple reflector instead of only 1 or 2.

One more thing that Prof Biju mentioned is that it is able to detect human movement by placing the reflector on the human itself. However, we can’t bring this installation out in the public due to all the camera and set up indoor. Thus, he mentioned that thats where Kinect come into the picture. Kinect sense the depth and decide where to project on.

All these can be useful when it comes to projection mapping as we need to understand whether the distance from the projector to the surface will affect the size of the thing we want to project.

The Media City: Media, Architecture and Urban Space

By Scott McQuire

I think we are still stuck with this idea of the street and the plaza as a public domain, but the public domain is radically changing. […] with television and the media and a whole series of other inventions, you could say that the public domain is lost. But you could also say that it’s now so pervasive it does not need physical articulation any more.I think the truth is somewhere in between.

Our group did a presentation on this thus the review will be mainly what we presented about. Our group came out with a thesis to relate the readings to:

Instead of being a form of media that is subsuming the public space, Social Media/the Internet can be viewed as the new ‘public space’ which transgresses the historical boundaries of public and private space due to its ability to be accessed in private spaces.

Performing Public Space

Image result for role playing GAMES

In the 18 century, the flowering of public life due to the emergence of new public spaces like theatres, parks where strangers might get to meet. There was this thing called playacting where social role playing helps to sustain public culture among strangers. In the current world where internet is so advance, it allows people to have an online identity and getting to meet different persona in the online space. Online space like social media and role playing games involves interaction and communication with everyone. Thus, can we consider the online space as a public space?

Down in the Street

In the 19 century, the street was known as the common meeting ground and communication platform for everyone. Sadly, comparing the busy street in the past to current day, the past have more human interaction as compared to today where people exist in their own bubble, either in vehicles or as pedestrians. The public space and the online space have one thing in common where people will meet and mingled regardless of their social classes. Haussmannization was also emphasised in the reading. New boulevards lead to new patterns of social contact, working class housing became more segregated as many workers were relegated to outlying suburbs.

The crowd emerged as a specific social actor, […] the characteristic experience of the modern city is living among strangers who remain strangers.

Living among strangers who remain strangers; our current social media where apps like Instagram and Facebook, how many people that you followed are people that you actually don’t know them personally?


Suburbs […] are notably rich in private spaces and poor in public ones. By the postwar era even the layout of American homes – spacious backyards and ‘decks’ replacing front porches and stoops – had come to express a turning away from the street and towards controllable domesticity.

In the past, the emergence of white suburban areas and black ghettos significantly altered the balance between public and private space. The line between the rich and the poor spaces are blurred due to the the advance in technology and how easily everyone can access to the online platform. By condensing one’s entire social life onto a single device, the need for social interaction in a public space is eliminated.

Control Space

The modern world may be a society of strangers, but no one was able to maintain their anonymity for long. Bodies may well have ‘disappeared’ as it became possible to do things at a distance, without direct involvement or intervention, but they were made to re-appear courtesy of surveillance.

CCTV systems can be seen almost everywhere in the world today and travelling through a contemporary city is likely to leave a traceable record. People used to question the need for CCTV as it leave us with no privacy but taking 9/11 attacks as an example where the movement of the culprit was retraced from various footage like entering a gas station and convenience store, making things easier for government and police to find the culprit. The control of the street become part of a wider agenda to render urban space not only safe but predictable.

Which brings us back to the Chinese Social Credit System today, where the Chinese state is setting up a vast ranking system that will monitor the behaviour of the population and rank them based on their social credits. The area became so controlled that everyone need to be aware of their own behaviours. This implementation has its pros and cons depending on how people perspective are and there’s a lot of forum talking about it whether it is a good or bad thing to the people there.

The Dream of Ludic Space

Due to the unexpected encounters on city streets people has fear the public space for a long time. Having a centralised urban planning and technologies of policing seek to make it a routine for people to reduce the uncertainty generated in crowding. However, having strategy like this generated unruly energies. This has led to the recurrent speculation on whether there is still space for unplanned social interaction outside of the commodity spectacle.

Image result for internet world

Having internet as a communication platform actually caused many people to not want to leave their home to interact with people. In the online world, you do not have to fear of having awkward face to face situation and you have a choice to whether you want to avoid talking to someone by simply not clicking into their profile or just ignoring any incoming messages. However, think of it another way, where people who are socially awkward have a chance to interact with people through the online platform as well.

Mobile Publics

In the earlier phase of media city, telephone and television were primarily fixed. Now, people are generating new possibilities for social interaction in which information flows are increasingly able to act on the shape social activities as they occur. It alter the dynamic of public interactions among crowds of strangers.

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Smart mobs, cooperate in ways never possible before because they carry devices that possess both communication and computing capabilities. Things like arranging the meet up over the internet and only show up at specific time and location using their phone to negotiate a discount with the retailer. There is no human to human interaction here but everything can be done through on the online platform.

New technology has never been a sufficient condition for social change and is in fact more likely to be integrated into existing social hierarchies. 

However, with the ability to communicate and share date with others comes the ability to gather people with the same views and start movements. Sometimes, this is how rioting starts and usually gather people at a faster speed as compared to spreading news on the street itself. Thus, the importance of cooperation in public space is something that cannot be guaranteed by technology itself.


McQuire and his referenced scholars share a sense of the importance of a public culture in which people interact, not as voyeurs, consumers or commodities, but as active agents able to understand, and thereby alter, their own social situation.

Similarly, we feel that although recent technological advances (with regards to Internet and social media) have expanded the scope of “public space” and is a huge contribution to our public culture, it has also caused us to alienate our sense of human connection in favour of anonymity and “public interaction from private spaces”.

The Four Practices? Challenges for an Archaeology of the Screen

By Erkki Huhtamo

Huhtamo mentioned in the first paragraph that “focus should not be only on screens as designed artifacts but also on their uses, their intermedial relations with other cultural forms and on the discourses that have enveloped them in different times and places.” It is true that the use/purpose of screen was often overlooked in the world today. People tend to focus on the content of art but often ignored the physical presence and how screen can convey so much more.

Screen Practice

 jane tarzan cinephile film projector i love movies GIF

Screen includes items that everyone is familiarise with like television, computer screen, projector screen and etc. In the reading, it mentioned that screen practice include the traditional magic lantern show in the early silent cinema. We understand that there are so much more to explore in screen practices this days and to think back into the past, without the use of technology, it is still able to produce a similar effect as to our projector today.
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Shadow Puppet Theatre
People consider a shadow show as a form of screen practice but they are not the “typical” projection of images or a screen that people would imagine it to be. However, shadow show do have the essence of screen where it convey something to people.

Peep Practice

Homer Simpson Pictures GIF

In the past, some image are projected while some need to be peep through. An example will be the stereoscope where you have to peep through two hole to view the image. In today’s world, we seldom see such thing anymore due to all the new technology devices. However, it also reminds me of a childhood toy I once had, which is to peep through a lens and push a button to view the different images inside.

Touch Practice

Huhtamo mentioned that screen and peep practice are something that have a physical distance from the observer to the screen while touch practice is something you can physically touch and feel it. One successful example will be a toy in the past that combines both peep and touch practice like the Kaleidoscope (万花筒,Wàn huā tǒng). While peeping into the hole, you get to see fancy visuals moving by twisting the tube.

It is interesting to see how the past and present have changed some much in terms of the idea of touch practice. In the past, the visuals is something you see but cannot touch. In contrast, now that we have things like the mobile phone, where they can physically touch the screen and “touch/move” the visuals that are displayed.

auto idea GIF

Mobile Practice

Huhtamo breaks Mobile Practices into two variants where the first one is “the observer moves through a relatively immobile environment while observing it“. The examples that was mentioned was rather interesting where Panorama have a continuous immersive environment while Cosmorama have this discontinuous series of scene. I feel that they have one thing in common which is to lead the viewer from one point to another. In Panorama, due to its orientation be it straight or circular, there will be this leading line that leads the viewer to view in a certain direction. Similarly in Cosmorama, the setting “forced” the viewer to follow a certain path as the viewer move from one peephole to another.

The second variant is “the thing being observed and/or used moves together with the observer“, where he breaks it down to three different alternatives; the wearable device, the portable device and the vehicle mounted device.

The wearable (strapped to the body)
The portable (carried by the user)
Vehicle mounted device

He moved on to talk about how wearable devices actually affects our life and whether we should be concern about the purpose behind it. He also mentioned that if someone has a smartphone with them, how much difference does it as compared to wearing a smart watch? When it first launch, it normal for people to start questioning the use of it and does it really bring more convenience to them or its just another marketing product to earn money. Also, as it is the latest device in the market people tend to forget the real purpose behind the product but to “follow the trend”. Although he debates on the function of the product but I feel that he trying to focus more on the intrusion on privacy with screens as he start to reference it to Goggle Glasses. Having a “screen” where it is capable of recording without the knowledge of the other party will make people feel uncomfortable.

To conclude, screens have changed over the years regardless of its function, size or appearance and the use of screen increased rapidly as technology advances. Through the readings I understand that there can be so much more to screen and how more and more “new” devices are surfacing in the market. Will screen eventually lose it meaning and become the slave for being “cool” and “hip” or will screen continuous to serve its purpose and improve people life?


Light to Night Festival

National Gallery Singapore (Supreme Court Wing, facing The Arts House)

The first exhibit that I came across and realised that it was nicely mapped onto the building. It is interesting how the projector is placed slightly off centre and still managed to mapped accordingly to the building. Looking at it from the side does not really affect the visuals much but the street lights was kind of affecting the visual from the front view. I didn’t managed to find the description board, thus I feel that the location of the description board is important for audience to know what they are watching.


National Gallery Singapore (Supreme Court Wing)

We arrived in time to watch this exhibit from the beginning and it started off with a black and white visuals along with text. However, the visuals was hardly visible and only the text can be seen clearly. I think it was due to the surrounding lights as there were spotlights coming from opposite the building. The second half of the projection was more vibrant and colourful which is more visible as compared to the first half.  Thus, colours do play a part in the visuals that you want to project and also considering all the external problems that might surface.

National Gallery Singapore (City Hall Wing)

This exhibit was directly beside the “Through Her Eyes” exhibit, thus confusing many audience if they were a single or separate piece. The visuals is nicely projected onto the building but due to the surrounding lights, some of the details was lost again. I personally like how they make full use of the building structure to creates the animation where it feels like they are forming the building. I think they face the same problem as last year where there were trees directly in-front of the building. Those trees blocked off some of the pillars where the animation is projected on. However, I think due to the projection on other pillars, it kind of allows the audience to visualize the animation on the affected pillars even if there were trees blocking.

Something different this year was the light structure in-front of the building. I was guessing that it is supposed to help enhance the whole experience with the projection going on. However, I personally don’t feel connected with it because I expected the projection and light structure to work together better.

The Art House

This exhibit also make full use of the building outline to create the animation and was nicely mapped onto the building. Due to its location, the projector was placed directly opposite and at a nice distance where the visuals was much clearer as compared to other exhibit. Also, the description board was placed in a comfortable position where audience don’t have to walk to far off just to get an idea of the projection.

Asian Civilisations Museum

They used vibrant colours which I feel that it helps with the projection on building. Even with surrounding lights, they are able to stand out and make people want to view it. As there was another exhibit from the festival in-front of the projection, it kind of “guide” the audience to where they should stand and watch the projection.

Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall

The projection was projected on the middle façade and not the whole building façade which I think was due to the full length window on both end which make it difficult to project anything on it. Using only the middle façade, they still make full use of the height of the building and work around with the canvas they have.

Other exhibits from Light to Night Festival

This festival was held concurrently with I Light Singapore which make it difficult for audience to differentiate which exhibit belongs to which festival. I personally also didn’t managed to differentiate thinking that only the projection mapping show was part of Light to Night Festival and not the other installations.


Placement of Description Board

The description board was located directly under the building where I find it a hassle to actually walked over to read the description. As projection mapping show is best viewed from a distance, a description board should also be placed nearer to the viewing area as to indicate that the audience are able to view it from there. Especially for the projection show at the National Gallery, the audience is viewing from across the building, in order to read the description, they have to cross the road to find out more about the show which was inconvenient.

Festival Map

The whole festival is spread out across a wide area but the online map provided was not specific enough for people to navigate through the area. We have to walk quite a bit to find out where are the different projection show and some of the work was found randomly because we happened to came across it. For the exhibits at Esplanade Park, we couldn’t find any of the exhibits and almost mistook a Chinese Festival light display as the exhibit.


I feel that projection mapping is not just about creating visuals and putting it up on a building, there are so much more to consider when it comes to the final outcome. Taking into consideration the building façade, how the artist going to make use of the building structure to make the visuals more interesting and giving it life. Does the content projected on that specific building have a meaning to it? Also, there will be a lot of external factors that will affects the overall experience like the surrounding lights and the environmental sound.

Issues in IM Practice: Week 1 Assignment

Examples of projects that you address the notion of place, mobility or interactive environments in an innovative or thought-provoking way.


Image result for Pharrell Williams' Interactive G I R L Installation

An interactive installation at London where audience who entered the letter I in G I R L were able to watch the “Marilyn Monroe” music video and listen to the song, facilitated by motion controlled sound technology and directional speakers. They have to connect to G I R L wifi to watch the music video and download the album as well.

FIELD in Ackery’s Alley

FIELD, the artist want to create a space where public performances, activations and other art installation can happen. The installation have a field of sensors that detect the presence of a person, changing colours and emitting sounds in reaction to movement. This art work is currently looking for funding but I feel that it will be a whole new experience for people if they manage to implement it. Having an alley transform into an art helps people feel connected with one another when in that space. They get to interact not only with the art but also everyone around them.