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



Instability, Fluctuation and Re-imagination.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer focuses on the panopticon and surveillance; where “bodies, buildings, cities and technologies are conceptually and functionally interconnected”. Every day, we interact with technology and are reliant on technology to carry on with our daily lives whether it is transport, crafting documents, or having a conversation with someone else across the planet.

In his art, Lozano-Hemmer aims to deal with the body as “a performance, a process of becoming, of change, and less interested in physiognomy, anatomy, forensics and physical ergonomics.” Through re-contextualising the context of a specific building, he makes use of the concept he coined; relational architecture. This happens where the audience relates to the visual and auditory events predetermined by the artist. Physical involvement with the art piece creates a form of organic-technological art which can also be seen as biopolitics. Lozano-hemmer makes use of robotically controlled projectors, widely accessible computer systems, mobile phones, radios and custom-made software to conduct this experience. Architecture then becomes less solid and rigid, and makes room for a more virtual perception of itself. It becomes a lived existence for the audience interacting with it. 

Displaced Emperors, through wireless 3D trackers for instance, allowed for an individual to undergo duo-culture experience in an immersive environment. It made use of the 5 senses (mainly perception of touch (and what it can affect), sights and sounds). The installation brings in experiences and materials from outside a fixed culture and converts the building into something more than just a piece of dead matter. Flexibility and Imagination has been put into the building to make it more than just a building. It provides cultural exchange, learning and commemoration without distance getting in the way. In a way I feel that this is a plus point for biotechnology despite the possibility of it making us more cyborg-like. This experience does not interfere with us as people perceiving culture and encourages greater learning which reduces our focus on technology.

Through interaction with technology and the human perception, Lozano-Hemmer was able to play around with scale and subverted expectations, which made his works so unique and created a new world between organic human interactions and what technology can provide. As Henry Lefevre says; social activities constructed and gave meaning to space. To me, space is perceived differently and becomes a whole new idea because of how society reacts to it. These human activities are enhanced through technology, which also helps people to perceive its effects visually such as in Lozano-Hemmer’s Frequency and Volume where technology being used is being recorded and visually traced.


To me, it is not surprising to me that human perceptions and reactions through technology can create an active response as shown in Lozano-Hemmer’s works. Technology has already become such a big part of our lives. Almost everything we do involves technology; even the toilet flush. While it can aid us in improving the way we do things, I feel that too much of it can be detrimental instead because we become lazier and more dependent on technology to make things work. 

Ultimately, in an experimental art sense it is very interesting and unique but I hope that it does not displace traditional art and representation, just like how it should not override the globe with its over-reliability.

Critical Vehicles by Krzysztof Wodiczko


Vehicles. To be a carrier, as a medium to convey ideas or emotions.

In Critical Vehicles: Writings, Projects, Interviews by Krzysztof Wodiczko, we understand that the Polish artist specializes in large-scale public slide and video projections. This is done on numerous celebratory architecture and monuments, in relation to his idea of “bodification” of architecture, turning these structures into critical vehicles; one of self-critics.

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To him, vehicles “served as a means of enacting (and warning against) the oppressiveness of a psycho-social machine”. He explains that one is not truly aware of being subjects of oppression until they are exposed to this fact can they understand how dependent and incapacitated they are as individuals against the autocratic system as ruled in Poland. 

In his works. Wodiczko aims to uncover the conditions of life under the delusion of freedom– where one seeks refuge under a political or cultural entity as an excuse for their individual passivity. Andrzej Turowski calles this ideosis— the commonsense life of well-calculated choices for navigating through the system by claiming a critical or independent perspective on it.

In a sense, I think what Wodiczko is trying to portray in his works by projecting on cultural and political buildings is about the petrification of individuals and their personal thought process. Their individuality is sacrificed in order to protect themselves under the larger umbrella of a cultural or political entity. In a sense, these monuments which represent the cultural or political entity ironically becomes alive despite being dead matter; they are living in place of the people who have thrown away their individuality and ideas and are hence stagnant and in stasis. 

Nationalism? One people, One nation? Who cares when individuality and self-protection is lost along the way?

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In his works for instance Homeless Projections and then Homeless Vehicle, it was a mockery of American Freedom as the homeless die of wounds and malnutrition. Such a social commentary is one of the reasons why I felt that Wodiczko was trying to mock society about what they perceive as safety and perfection; trying to advocate largely established point of views can very well lead to one’s death instead. He calls this “Nationalistic Madness” and I agree with him. 

Perfection? I call bulls**t.

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In Homeless Vehicles and Projections, they tell us the story about how being homeless is not a choice, even though the government “pretends” to offer help; one might end up suffering even more under a shelter. People would rather run free on their own to avoid such dehumanizing, prison-like treatment. The government does not offer them opportunities to get back on their feet either. In a sense, once you are out of the system they call society, it is very hard to get back in. You are treated as an outsider, and you are abused by society’s lordings. And people who live well do not bother with these “trivialities” simply because it does not concern them because they are one with the general social sentiments. Pretty stupid in my opinion.

In my opinion, humans are slowly becoming cyborgs. We listen and abide by the rules of society. We are becoming increasingly dependent on social constructions, and live our lives based on that. The everyday cycle we put ourselves through turns us into mundane robots functioning on food, water and oxygen. This is also a part of us losing our individuality. This is aligned with Wodiczko’s projects The Alien Staff and Mouthpiece (Porte-Parole), where it portrays an authoritarian machine. “The instruments provides prosthetic devices, counter-machines that empower the wearer, in cyborgian fashion, to survive and transform the conditions of his or her social existence.” This essentially conveys to us that humans are becoming less vital in their social existence. To put it in extremity, the world can function with robots and without humans (in a sense) one day.

As sad as reality can be, I find this to be closely relatable to Singapore’s situation. We are constantly surrounded by high expectations in school and work in order to be productive for Singapore’s economy. The health of society’s progress is reliant on the deterioration of our own health. As cyborgs of society, we sacrifice ourselves in the name of hard work to make Singapore great and in turn, the government rewards us with some benefits which by the way do not make up for the shortening of our life spans from the lack of sleep and overworking. We become vehicles of work for society rather than being vehicles that can convey our emotions and thoughts properly.

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I just want to say I’m not on amos yee’s side btw I still don’t like him

Any wrong opinion can get you fired, expelled, or exiled from the organization and even the country. Look at the multiple political leaders and writers who can exiled from Singapore just for reciting their own opinions. Look at the disciplinary penalty we get just from being slightly off from the generic rules and regulations, such as not being able to take our exams just because we did not bring out matriculation cards by accident. Look at the amount of foreign expats flooding into Singapore and being able to purchase landed property with 2-3 cars per household while we have elderly Singaporeans still struggling to make a living and to feed themselves with porridge and canned food daily.

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If you ask me, Singapore has gotten its priorities wrong a lot of times. Yet barely anyone speaks out about this. In Singapore, if someone pulls off something like Wodiczko did on the National Gallery building, I can promise that the person would be charged for political sentiments and would be put in jail or exiled.

#Reasons why I hate Singapore at times.

I would like to end off with a quote from the reading which I find very applicable and suitable of Wodiczko’s projection art:

“The aim of critical public art is neither a happy self-exhibition nor a passive collaboration with the grand gallery of the city, its ideological theater and architectural-social system. Rather, it is an engagement in strategic challenges to the city structures and mediums that mediate our everyday perception of the world; as engagement through aesthetic-critical interruptions, infiltrations, and appropriations that question the symbolic, psycho-political, and economic operations of the city. “

Siah Armajani Exhibition @ CCA: Reflections


SIAH ARMAJANI reflections

  • Reading Room No.3
  • Siah Armajani’s Films


Sacco & Vanzetti Reading Room No.3:

With the purpose of being functional and inviting, Iranian-born political activist Siah Armajani created a reading room that has a deeper meaning. Dedicating many of his works, including the display of books to poets, philosophers and political activists, he quietly and passively declares his political stance through art. His main art style revolves around American conceptual art, such as dealing with geometry.

Among many of his art pieces such as stippled art of tombs dedicated to different individuals (“The Tomb”) and mirrored bridges symbolizing an interstitial space that connects architecture and sculpture (“Street Corner 1 & 2”), the works that stuck with me the most were the Reading Rooms. 

Pencil Spikes,  shophouses converted into reading spaces, and spiked chairs to “relax” in. These are very unconventional uses to create a space meant for relaxation and indulging in complex texts. 

The room that caught my eye the most was the Fruit Store Reading Room. With only one square table and one planked chair in the room, it gave me a serenity and solitude akin to meditation. I felt like I could accomplish a lot just by sitting on that chair, putting my hands on the table, and looking out of the room through the fruit store’s open “window”.

On the shelves, it displayed a lot of novels Siah had dedicated to, and on one shelf, every single book on the shelf was a Poem Book. On the opposite shelf, every single book was about Anarchism and finally, on the bottom fruit rack outside the shop, every book was about Power play. I found this really interesting because it was as though Siah was trying to “sell” his ideas. The shopkeeper, in this sense, was Siah himself. 

At the other shop, its outlook featured a tobacco shop, and there were only two chairs facing each other inside. Sitting inside the space made me feel safe, as though I could share my ideas and opinions with the person sitting opposite me without fear of betrayal. I guess in a sense, this emulated the feelings of the two political activists who were executed via electric chairs for being… well, political. 

The Relaxation chair made out of Pencil Spikes was also particularly interesting ever since Kee Yong tried to sit on the chair and made a resounding pencil-breaking symphony from his attempt. Maybe the chair of spikes was a reflection of how it felt to be a political activist. On the front, it seems that life is fair and one can relax in their chair but underneath, one is actually lying on a bed of spikes rather than a bed of roses because they may be prosecuted any time for their political sentiments.


Siah Armajani’s Films:

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Regarding Siah Armajani’s Films, it took me several revisions at home to understand what it was trying to convey. Siah Armajani took a very modern approach in playing around with lines and other geometry to shift perspective and create points of departure. While some of them like Rotating Line was easier to understand, Before/After was a little more abstract. However, they eventually conveyed the same concept. 

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All in all, I found his concepts quite fresh, and at the same time brave, because he dared to create an art piece based on political sentiments. At the same time, his pieces gave me a homely effect from the way the structures were built on; earthly colours for its paints, old school buildings fashioned into reading rooms, olden day utensils, and even the iron bridges had an old-fashioned vibe spun into them. This homely effect could be seen as an attempt to communicate and bond with the masses to make them understand and be able to relate to what Siah is trying to portray.

Atmospheres by Peter Zumthor


Reading; Atmospheres by Peter Zumthor

Text Inference:

In this text, Atmosphere defines what moves a person. This can come in forms (objects, people, air, noises, sounds, colours, material presences, textures, forms, etc.), moods, feelings and sense of expectations.

Atmospheres by Peter Zumthor elaborates about how Zumthor visions and observes when he creates an atmosphere in the houses he builds. Philosophical ventures into poetic and meaningful  atmospheres always begin with a location that links to a person, a literary event or a motif. Beauty is also taken into account when an atmosphere is being analyzed, where Outer Beauty is a measure of things, proportions and materials and Inner Beauty is the core of things. 

Atmosphere is perceived through emotional sensibility, which is instinctual in humans. When this is carried out, we are thinking linearly, otherwise known as thinking in a mentally organised fashion. This is usually largely influenced by the five senses and through the common experience.

Architectural atmosphere is also largely influenced by craft and graft. An atmosphere is a body and anatomy, which is established through collecting different objects and materials  in the world, and combining them (craft & graft) to create space. 

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This process also involves movement, where thought can come from how people move through spaces. An immersive atmosphere, in that sense, would be a space that you can enter and begin to feel that you could stay there and not just pass by without further thought. It is a spatial art, as well as a temporal art.

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In atmospheric design, there are also loopholes, where they are imperceptible transitions between the inside and the outside of the atmosphere. The inside and the outside of an atmosphere should communicate an impression that sends a message. For example, a person who does not like being seen will not have glass windows. Proximity and Distance then comes into play, alongside light perceptions in order to have a balanced atmosphere.


Personal Thoughts:

Through this reading, I am further enlightened about how we should view the invisible aura residing in the areas we are in; that is none other than an ‘atmosphere’. 

In my opinion, while Zumthor argues that it is the surrounding body of meanings and objects that influences our perception of how atmosphere can be, it differs slightly from my point of view. I agree that the 5 senses and experiences we have faced in our daily trials (such as movement through familiar spaces) will allow people to come to a common understanding about how an atmosphere qualifies. 

However, rather than only the experiences we face daily, I feel that our feelings and perceptions are the main driving force of what defines an atmosphere. If things are arranged haphazardly and messily, it is our feelings that tells us that the atmosphere is disturbing and hence uncomfortable. Our reactions towards the treatment of our own comfort zones is the ruler towards measuring how much a location should affect us.



How do we then differentiate a human perception defined by the location/place around us, and one that is affected by our pure emotions only?


Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller (by Marjory Jacobson)


What the text says:

Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller by Marjory Jacobson talks about how the cyber revolution has caused people to both betray and fulfill promises regarding the global information culture.

With our proprioceptive senses heightened, our senses are easily influenced to re-imagine another reality even if we cannot actually see them.

As Jacobson mentions in her text, “The ultimate imaginary where scripts are deformed with fragmented tales filtered through a flood of information, plots may never conclude.”

“The digressive meander of narrative and the denial of closure imply for many thinkers an illusion of immortality and an affirmation of technology’s promise of eternal life.”

My Thoughts:

I feel that it is in human nature to want more things as soon as we have received what we initially wanted. There is a never-ending quest to please humanity, and the cyber revolution is key to letting humans enjoy a glimpse of what can help satisfy their curiosity and expectations.

Art pieces like Sensorium helps participants to delve into a world where their 5 senses are being overridden extensively, and provides another reality for them. In my opinion, bringing an alternate reality to participants is a way to escape the real world, as well as to explore a need to be daring and try new things. This need would only increase, and newer expectations will arrive.

Ultimately, spaces can also be imagined; it does not have to exist for real, but as long as our 5 senses are deceived to believe that they are experiencing something totally different, then a new space can be said to have been created. Exploration will never end, and new worlds will keep being born.

My Questions:

What is it that drives people to yearn for eternal lives and experiences? Why is it that people never stop wanting something new each time they achieve something already? What is this boredom and provocation that drives people to yearn for more? Would a cyber revolution also create more boredom once everything has been synthesized to match a common frequency not meant to disrupt everyday lives i.e. our senses become too heightened?


Thanks for reading! 😀

Space and Place (by Yi Fu Tuan)


What the Reading is saying:

What Yi Fu Tuan talks about in this paper is about how culture, the common experience and the human body is what defines our understanding of spatial values.

People differ in how they divide up their world, assign values to them, and measure these in quantities. The Fundamental Principles of Spatial Organization is firstly Posture and structure of the human body, followed by Relations between human beings.

In other words, space is organized to fit our biological needs and social relations. It is human-construed, based on the body’s coordinates and intentions.

Space offers Direction, Location, Distance, Language and Area. 

Direction influences one’s perception of cultures and beliefs in human terms. For example, being placed higher or in front means that you are more superior and better than the ones lower and at the back. The Right side also refers to sacred power and being good, while the left side is more commonly associated with the profane and the impure.

Location refers to our spatial awareness, and this provides the human body a sense of space when they have points and coordinates to demarcate their understanding of space.

Distance is measured and better understood (which will then be translated to how it is compared to space) through human body parts and our common experience in comparing our body and feelings with other objects.

Language can be locational. It directly guides you to understand how space is being organized.

Finally, Area is compared to the human body when it is treated as a container. The common experience determines how we measure capacity.


My Thoughts:

I feel that the human body requires all 5 senses to be able to feel the space around us. This includes how we believe a space should feel like, and what elements are included in this space. For example, there can be a sofa in a room, and only through sight can you identify where the sofa is, and only through the common experience of how wide your steps are and what way you can travel to reach the sofa can you travel correctly to the sofa and take a sit.

Ultimately, I feel that since culture (what we believe about and how we interpret things thereafter) plays a huge role in determining what we think of space, humanism can be seen as a scientific counterpart in its identification of geography. An actual space is influenced by the cultural process people have, where there is a relationship between the common experience and perceptions hereafter.

Even though both concepts are largely different, with distance etc. being largely practical and scientific and the body’s instinctual movements and identification of measurement being humanistic in comparison, they both have to work together to create a space that can be accounted for by people.


My Questions:

A couple of questions I would like to bring up includes:Since everyone are unique individuals and have different human perceptions as a result, how did they come to agree that body parts can be used as a good estimation or comparison with space? Wouldn’t their perceptions be vastly different based on how they understand things? Who decided that body estimation was a good idea? e.g. Foot, Mile, Feet, Thumb, Palm, etc.


Thaaanks for reading! 😀