ADM Gallery vs Gillman Barracks | Research Critique on the SG Biennale 2019


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The overall theme of the Singapore Biennale 2019 “Every Step in the Right Direction” seems to revolve around the analysis of the past and the present and how far we have come, to take a better step towards the future. It is a reflection-based theme, where we are reminded without filter about the state of the world around us.

“Every Step in the Right Direction”

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The two exhibitions at Gillman Barracks and the ADM Gallery are slightly different in themes. The Gillman Barracks exhibition, titled “Every Step in the Right Direction”, highlights the importance of choice-making and the analysis of the current conditions the world is in, as well as the human endeavour for change. The Gillman Barracks exhibition focuses more on today’s truth, such as the possibility of losing our forests and nature to civilization, or how we should take the termite colonies as a role model for resource management. It gives us the brutal wake-up call of possibilities we probably have to live with if we do not start putting in the effort to correct what is considered inefficient or ineffective.

Zai Tang’s Escape Velocity III & IV

An example of the exhibition consists Zai Tang’s Escape Velocity III and IV (2019). It utilizes the sounds of nature to highlight the ecological crisis we are facing today. Wildlife is being eroded constantly, put at threat by manmade developments. The piece incorporates sounds from Mandai, an area undergoing development into an eco-tourism destination. Escape Velocity III comprises visual music scores alongside a dated and a modern vinyl player, foregrounding the tension between nature and capital. Escape Velocity IV, on the other hand, animates the visualisation of sounds of nature in the assumption that we can no longer see the nature around us anymore (lost to development).

“Tomorrow is An Island, as inland, a sin land”

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On the other hand, the ADM Gallery exhibition titled “Tomorrow Is An Island, as inland, a sin land” speculates about the future of islands, deep time, the fate of ‘crisis’ as a frame of our predictions and conceptions of future time, and the exchanges between bodies and cities. It talks about time being malleable and unpredictable, where moving on to the next moment can potentially be disruptive to the present culture. The ADM Gallery exhibition focuses instead on how time, as a subject, is so volatile. It can bring about many changes in any duration. In turn, it creates a black hole for culture to change. This “superpower” time has is the catalyst for the different significant parts of history we have.

Forest Tales and Emerald Fictions

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One of the exhibits, “Forest Tales and Emerald Fictions” (2019), is a 3 channel video installation featuring the dense skylines of a metropolis deep in the networks of the primeval forest and back into a hybrid world of urban and natural structures. It is a recount of the experiences the author has, the conditions, times and places, and the forest. These narrations are then interwoven with stories of a Singaporean Chinese woman recalling past times and her childhood memories of specific places and animistic parallel worlds. The collage in the videos featuring text, paintings, animations, urban and natural spaces alludes to co-existence, collaboration and co-habitation of human and non-human entities.

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The installation shows the forest not only as a resource, infrastructure and service provider (such as from colonization days) but also as an ecosystem of culture. The forest is seen as a pool of knowledge and matter, posing to us the question of to what extent the forest can serve as a model for sustainable urban development in the future. It teaches us that we should use history as a role model to generate better things as a whole, such as replicating forests to ease global warming, or creating spaces which are more conservative and resource-friendly.


Overall, I feel that overall even though both exhibitions revolved around human progression and further awareness of the world around us, they have rather different conceptual focuses. Both exhibitions do focus on what we can learn from our environment but in different perspectives. Gillman Barrack’s exhibition focuses on more environmental factors and how we should be inspired or be triggered by them, while the ADM Gallery focuses more on the exploration regarding the loss of culture, whether in terms of the way we view the environment or how the things we have are mere memory at this point.

I think it’s pretty interesting how different curators different views about progression have, as highlighted in their art pieces. Maybe it’s because of the countries the artists origin from (concrete jungle or nah), and the culture they have been raised in which has affected a different take on the same topic. Things like the environment can appear to be more crucial to one person, but things like a loss of identity or territory can be more important to another.

MIDTERMS: Modified Poster | Smart Friend: AVA




Use typewriter instead, or a more old fashioned printer

Include more interactive elements

Change sad girl silhouette into a vector drawing instead (clarity reasons)

Include instructions about how there is a video playing outside the house about how you can enter if you have anything to spill or something to rant about

Consider not having the phone ring, instead get the participant to dial in the number on the phone and let the AI “pick up the call” after 3 rings.



FYP Idea Generation | 2-3 Ideas


Access Slides HERE.

Idea #1: VR Visual Novel

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  • VR Environmental Storytelling
  • Hidden Nightmares/ Dating Sims/ the Horror around you
  • 3D/2D Elements around the scene, where you can access backgrounds and the environment before proceeding with the story
  • Unreal Engine/ Unity3D

Idea #2: Unimagined Animals; the world in 2000 years due to climate change

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  • Adapting to Climate Change
  • A fight for survival, especially in the decreasing natural space (Savannah, Arctic, Rainforests, etc.)
  • Animal Instincts increases, leading to greater intelligence. (Defiant Eye; Zoo [Netflix])
  • Physical manifestations and construction of creatures using 3D printing and Arduino (Interactive)

Idea #3: Interactive Storytelling + Environmental Storytelling + Interactive Storybook

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  • Interactive Storybook
  • Either through VR, where every page flipped will trigger a storytelling scene, OR
  • Physical, electronic book where elements will physically move every time the page is flipped. Kind of like a puppet show.
  • Arduino (Physical) or Unreal Engine/ Unity3D (Virtual) versions
  • Can also consider storytelling as a Visual Novel (So Idea #1 + #3)

Project Management for Design Professionals Ch2&5 | Review


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To be honest I don’t really know what kind of critique I am supposed to write for an research article that is so general, but I am going to give it a shot anyway at providing my own opinions after reading Chapters 2 and 5.

Chapter 2 talks about Project Management Goals and Activities. Project Management is an outcome-oriented process. Concepts are determined by the outcomes the projects produce and these outcomes, in turn, determine the usefulness of the project management concepts.

There are two main lists the chapter focuses on:

Five Phases:

  1. Start- the project begins
  2. Planning- figuring out how to perform the work
  3. Design- the project’s overall design is worked out
  4. Production- preparation of construction documents and/or other deliverables based on the overall design
  5. Closeout- the project work is completed.

Six Activities and Project Management:

  1. Defining the design project’s scope of work, budget, and schedule-in effect, determining the project objectives
  2. Planning the work effort so that the project scope of work, budget, and schedule will be met
  3. Directing the design team as it does the work so the project objectives will be met while staying within budget and on schedule
  4. Coordinating the efforts of the design team so that interdisciplinary information flows smoothly and at the right time
  5. Monitoring the design team’s work product and progress against the project objectives, budget, and schedule
  6. Learning from the project- what went right, what went wrong, and how to improve performance on the next project

Oookay I think these points are good for reference when it comes to panning a project. But I think I will be working solo for my FYP, so I feel that many of these roles have to be changed and altered for a solo job. Nevertheless I do agree that more planning and scheduling is never too much. This is why I keep a planner for my daily life as well; because I need that organization over my own hectic lifestyle.

Chapter 5 is about Planning the Project. It is mentioned that a project work plan should be developed before beginning every project.

Basic to-knows for a Project Manager:

  1. An understanding of project management
  2. The technical knowledge and experience that comes from actually doing design work

The project planning process is iterative (Starts from developing the big picture conceptually, without much detail. More details are added once the design develops.), while production task work is linear. I think that this is pretty reasonable, because when we focus too much on the details for a small portion, we tend to neglect the larger picture and we start becoming close-minded. The whole project will become a disconnected Pinocchio-looking donkey if we focus too much on one thing at a time without referring back to the bigger picture. Mix-and-matching does not work all the time.

Ishikawa’s Fish Bone

I think what is particularly interesting and useful for my project planning is the Fish-bone diagram by Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa. It is a graphic way of dividing a project, or problem, into its cause-and-effect bites. It is used to plan a project by diagramming all the cause-and-effect tasks that are necessary to complete a project. I think this is very relevant to a big project especially because more often than not, we tend to lose sight of our main objectives and diverge once we discover something new. It is like focusing on fancying your egg mixture with salt and pepper and other herbs when you are supposed to be baking a cake. With a fishbone structure it is easy to refer back to what we need to do and only focus on what is needed rather than diverge onto other topics and objectives that are not that important or significant.

Six Objectives of the Project Work Plan (a step-by-step method for accomplishing the work):

  1. Definition of the project objectives
  2. Identification of the project team
  3. Breakdown of the project into task budgets
  4. Development of the project schedule
  5. Establishment of the project quality-control program
  6. Identification of other project-specific procedures and standards

It divides the project into logical tasks for performance and monitoring purposes. It is easy to make mistakes or leave tasks out if objectives are unclear without a work plan. I will prolly be using this planning structure for FYP, but at the same time I feel that this is too early to think about for now since I don’t even have my final FYP idea yet. But it is still good reference.


The Ideal Work Breakdown Structure, just for reference:

  1. It is developed iteratively, starting with the whole and getting more and more detailed with each subsequent pass. It is hierarchical, that is, component parts relate to each other in terms of importance.
  2. It has the right amount of detail, no more and certainly no less.
  3. Tasks are defined by objective, duration and level of effort. It is based on relevant past experience in both project management and design.

I think after reading the two chapters, the whole gist is just to be super organized and orderly when you are planning a project. This means more paperwork, but this also means more clarity and more organization in life in general. It is very troublesome to keep track of everything in black and white schedule but it will ultimately benefit you because that one day you have a mental breakdown, you won’t lose track of your life because you can simply refer back to your very perfectly and clean planned schedule to figure out what you need to do. I mean in the end, there’s a reason why big companies have so much paperwork and schedules and files of information to sieve through. That’s because their projects can get so messy and complex that they need all these paperwork to keep things in check and keep even themselves up to check.

Overall, especially for FYP, it is very beneficial because the time spent doing the project is too long yet too short. Too long, because it is a whole year of things to do. Too short, because there are so many things to do and plan that not going without a schedule can be insane and you can get backlogged work instead.

Biennale 2019 @ Gillman Barracks | Escape Velocity III & IV


Work, their background, answering what you discovered that gave you more insight about the artist’s concerns and working methods.



Even though I did not attend the whole exhibition today, the work that caught my eye the most today was the first work I observed when I reached Gillman Barracks earlier than the meeting time.

Zai Tang’s Escape Velocity III and IV.

At first, I did not understand the whole concept but I realized that you have to sit there for quite a while in order to absorb the piece, through listening to the nature of the sounds and the tempo of the visuals. In fact, the longer I sat there, the more immersed I was into relating the artistic patterns to the sounds that were playing at the same time.

In Escape Velocity III, Zai Tang focuses on the difference between nature and synthetic, highlighting the tension between nature and capital. There is a delicate balance struck between the two, in a world that is slowly being devoured by concrete blocks. Tang uses slowed down field recordings of wildlife from places under threat by development and plays it against abstract art. The two art pieces incorporates sounds from Mandai, which is an area undergoing development into an eco-tourism destination.

I think that it is very interesting how Tang plays around with colour and the type of drawings to express the difference between smooth natural surroundings and the more jagged, rigid concrete jungle we live in. The sounds are also modified to expressed such, alongside the different vinyl players; the black vinyl player portrays a recording that will wear out over time, just like the nature around us when it deteriorates slowly. The white vinyl payer, on the other hand, is automated and does not wear out as it merely plays a recording. This is the synthetic nature of our concrete jungle, where it will never rot but will never be natural as well. I also think that it is very smart to make use of an analogue sound system to highlight the idea of sound, juxtaposed against a still image. This gives more room for the viewers to imagine how the portrait should tell its story, based on the sounds that accompany it.

While Escape Velocity III is more on a critical commentary about how nature is dying, Escape Velocity IV is about how we should conserve the nature.

Escape Velocity IV, on the other hand, focuses more on the visualisation of nature through sounds and abstract artistic shapes. I think that this piece is very unique because it does not really show any literal nature imagery unlike Escape Velocity III which does. However, I think what struck out to me the most as an ecological conservation art piece is how the nature is being preserved through this abstract visualization of nature sounds. It is quite sad in all honesty, but it is a way of preserving the nature that will soon die out if no one does anything about our planet earth.

If we take the artist’s background into account, I think he feels this more strongly especially since UK and Singapore are both countries that invest a lot in buildings rather than greenery and natural preservation. Also, when we observe the placement of the exhibition, we can see that Escape Velocity III is placed outside the room containing Escape Velocity IV. This plays up the idea Tang tries to convey, which is to first show us the dirty reality of how our ecosystem is dying, following by his presentation of conservation efforts we should be doing to preserve the ecosystem. Especially when these exhibitions are separated into two segments, I think it creates a very clear meaning about the purpose of the exhibition.


Midterms Conceptualization | Dr. Phail


View slides here.



Other Inspirations: Luc Courchensne’s Portrait No. 1, Eliza

Change Dr. Phail to something not Doctor related as it may trigger bad professional counselling experiences, maybe Auntie Phil.

Consider having a second printer that prints out a receipt roll of Auntie Phil ranting as well about how the other people rants to her.

Small font size on papers when solutions are printed out, with varying answers that are very generic or can be very long but essentially means idk.