First of all I was definitely very pleasantly surprised with how amazing the exhibitions at the National Museum were. I think this was because not only were the exhibitions pleasant to look at (aka they were pretty), the exhibitions were made with interactivity in mind. At every turn there was something to do, something to touch. And the interactivity didn’t feel like it was slapped on, but very carefully thought out. On top of this I was surprised to find how the use of scent was ingrained in the exhibitions and how applicable it is to my own project. Safe to say I was enlightened.
Magic and Menace
First of all was the magic and menace exhibition.
- I was actually surprised that they added the “Menace” part in this exhibition because usually when talking about nature, one would always present it as magical, even the frightening parts. We would always say that that’s just a part of nature and that within itself is also beautiful. However in retrospect, the “Menace” actually makes the exhibition more personal as Singapore folk tales were woven into the exhibition.
- This part of the exhibition was also the first encounter where we saw scents being used. The scents being those that most Singaporeans are familiar with. I enjoyed most of the scents. The durian however , although close, smelt more artificial and too “perfume-y”. My only other gripe would be also the shape of the scent stations itself looked a bit out of place in a nature based exhibition. Just imagine if the scent stations somehow looked like fruits hanging off a tree, or actual flowers, i think these would have made the exhibition one step better.
Story of the Forest
- Now Story of the Forest was such a sight to behold, once again scent here was used but at a larger scale, where the scent filled the whole room however, different scents were used for different sections of the exhibitions.
- For the path section I found it really interesting that you can register in animals like how one would capture pokemon using the phone app, especially given the fact that this was done before pokemon go, that is honestly very smart. Such a shame that the app is no longer working. I think as interactive artist we should always beaware of activities that somehow tap on our primal behavior, that is activities that people somehow always seem to enjoy. Here it would be collecting.
- Now I am also amazed that we are amazed by this Team Lab exhibition. Because if we take a closer look at the 3D models used, they are actually pretty low poly and harsh. Yet we find this whole exhibition beautiful. I think this is because Team Lab has woven an experience where all the pieces when working together makes it a great experience, even if each one aspect is unique on its own. Things like the scent, the music and even the Team Lab Glow aesthetic plays a part in giving this ethereal magical feeling.
An Old New World
- For the Old New World Exhibition once again there was a lot of interactivity involved, but this time, the interactivity was more tangible and physical instead of being more digital. I thought this was interesting and it was pretty clear that the interactivity was done with kids in mind. It shows that you don’t always have to use complex technology to make something interactive.
- Once again Scents were used here and I personally felt that these scent stations were better because they were shaped like spice boxes.
- Here there were some sections that could be improved. For example for the two globes, we felt that it would have been better if each globe had its own screen. And also if the animations for each video was more fluid. However, using a globe as a “controller was ingenious. Kids would definitely love this.
- The next one that could have been better was the station about traditional medicine. I thought it would have been much better if the pictures were an animation instead of being a still and that it changed to show the subject actually being healed when the correct medicine was placed. Also the knobs representing the medicine could have some fake plants placed on them to make them feel more like herbs instead of just wooden knobs.
- Honestly the chalk room exhibition is pretty great however it is not perfect.
- Firstly I honestly think that the experience is a little too long for an exhibition experience because 15 minutes means that someone could potentially need to wait for a long time before being able to try. In an FYP exhibition for example, I honestly thing a solo person experience cannot last more than 5 minutes.
- Secondly the “games” within the rooms itself were actually pretty simple and basic. Some of them worked, for example I really enjoyed the one where we could make sounds and hit them to play them back. However most of the rooms felt like someone tried VR for the first time, felt excited and wanted to slap on everything new that they learnt.
- My last gripe would be that each room was kinda disjointed from the other. It was pretty good that you could jump from room to room seamlessly however, the connecting narrative between each room was kinda weak.
- But compared tot he other biennalle exhibitions I have seen this is honestly comparatively much better.