NGS Exhibition Review

As an overview, An Exercise of Meaning in a Glitch Season and Time Passes are exhibitions that are part of the Proposals for Novel Ways of Being – A collective response by the visual arts community to the global pandemic and its impact on the Singaporean community.

As mentioned by Syaheedah, she shared how Glitch Season looks at things on a macro scale whereas Time Passes looks at things on a micro scale. This was very interesting to me as despite the two exhibitions being dedicated to reflecting responses regarding the pandemic and its impacts, both exhibitions displayed stark differences.

The first thing that I noticed about Glitch Season was that indeed almost all of the artworks focused on the macro and it is evident in the scale of the artwork and also the physical execution of the artwork. Taking Kin Chui’s “Station 13010”, the artwork takes up a large area of the exhibition and the focal point of the artwork, a collage of QR codes, hung from the top of the ceiling, almost reaching down to the floor. This collage actually leads the audience to multiple links respectively and it had to be put together for people to make up the big picture that the artist is trying to convey. This is also applicable when looking at Clara Lim’s 3GHz as well as the collage of old advertisements created a pattern that raises the problematic themes advertisements of the past showcased.

As mentioned by Samantha, Time Passes looks at the “care” in the creation of the artworks and the relationship that is put across from the materials to the artists and then to the audience. This is where I believe the micro comes in is that these artworks showcases the seemingly little or previously ignored things in life and how it had changed after the pandemic happened. This brings me to the artwork that I would like to go more in detail.

“Render Tender” is a mixed media installation by Singaporean artist Divaagar. Divaagar (b.1992) is an interdisciplinary artist who works with installation, performance, and digital media. He works at the intersections of bodies, identities, and environments, imbuing narratives into places, spaces and situations. He graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Fine Arts from LASALLE College of the Arts in 2018.

Divaagar’s “Render Tender” takes on the set-up of a fictional reiki studio that channels remote healing through the aid of projected visuals and a calming soundscape. Render Tender deems how acts of care persist and can be showcased and encountered in intimate isolation. Drawing from reiki, the artwork aims to provide a form spiritual healing operating through trust and touch that offers a poignant and adaptable model of sustaining intimacy in a pandemic where physical contact must be negotiated.

Items on Side table

Overall setting of artwork

I was first drawn to the artwork due to its mysterious exterior with sheer curtains barely allowing me to make up what was on the other side. This instantly made me curious and drew me to enter.

Exterior of artwork taken from

Right off the bat, I instantly felt a lot calmer as I understood that the artwork is trying to pass off as a meditative space in one’s home. It was comfortable yet it was weirdly intriguing. I scoped the entire setting and distracted myself with the hanging beads and items on the side table before I actually took a seat on one of the benches. It took me quite sometime to notice the projection above and it required extra effort to look up.

Projection showing from the ceiling

I thoroughly enjoyed the projection as I stared at it for almost a minute and found myself in almost a trance. The words projected almost sort of manifested in me as I say it out loud in my head. The reappearing hands in the projection also helped with the hypnotics as it manages to calm myself down and to focus on the different elements of the projection one by one. I also come to understand that the projection aims to “heal” the audience that are in isolation at home or in their room during the pandemic.

Although I appreciated how beautiful and addictive the projection is, I do sense some disconnect between the entire setting and the projection itself. The first pressing issue that I have to raise would be how the projection is placed. I’d like to think that the projection is the focal point of the entire exhibition but it was the last thing that I take notice of when I stepped into the artwork space. I wonder if placing actual yoga mats or even a simple carpet would help showcase the projection better as it would actually allow the audience to lie down and face the projection in its full glory.

Another issue would be the placement of the artwork in the exhibition. I’m not sure if this was intentional or a coincidence but Render Tender is placed right next to Chong Lii and Christian Kingo, “Blue Trapezium” where there were many loud erratic sound effects being played from time to time. This caused quite a distractions especially when Render Tender is aimed at allowing people to meditate and heal. However, I actually loved this placement as it actually reflect the world when the pandemic first struck as chaos broke loose and many people are actually trying so hard to try and get their mental health in check.

To summarise on the entire exhibition, I feel that moving forward in the next few years, artists and in fact all creators, would have to learn to adapt new ways of working and making their craft. Without realising, the pandemic almost changed all of our lives and it also created new genres of work that we never knew we would explore if it didn’t actually happen. I am also curious and also interested to see how art changes both locally and internationally as artists create works in reply or reflection to the pandemic.

Week 3 Write-Up: Designing for the Digital Age

When I was first introduced to the world of design 5 years ago, I often associated it with graphic and web design purely for the sake of advertising as that was what I was mainly exposed to at that point of time. However, design bears an array of definition and one of it is to make everyone’s day-to-day life easier and to also act as a medium for communication. This correlates to what Kim Goodwin had mentioned at the beginning of the chapter where she wrote, “This intentional shaping of the world for mass consumption is often referred to as design.”

Design Solution

The term “design solution” is a buzz-phrase that I have been hearing people throw around but what does it exactly entail? The explanation here suggested that some of these solutions could be tangible products or they could also exist as a service providing specific experience. This statement made me derive to the thought that designers are “human-centered” problem solvers that are responsible in visualising the end-product and communicating with every parties involved in the process as well. It is interesting if we put to perspective how doctors solve medical issues, engineers solve technical issues and designers somehow solve human-centered issues. I feel this is why designers have to keep up with a lot of knowledge from social issues, science, technology, etc so as to create the perfect solution for the issue.

science or art?

I love how Kim chose to categorize design as craft. Design does not equate to science as it works past only understanding how things in the universe work. Although it is true that to start designing to solve the issue at hand, one must be familiar with the scientific facts pertaining to the human senses, cognition and ergonomics – all of which are used to get better understanding of the demographic. I feel that the scientific aspect of things are often overlooked as many designers tend to forego these facts that help to aid the design into being more functional and plausible as they often focus on the aesthetic of the work and are too fixated on the design being beautiful.

This is why design and art are defined together as designers tend to express their own preferences and vision onto the design which takes them away from serving to solve the human needs and goals. As such, finding the right middle ground between art and science is a craft as it truly showcases the best of a design being able to cater to the human needs yet possess great artistic value at the same time.

re-defining experience design

“We can design every aspect of the environment to encourage an optimal experience, but since each person brings her own attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions to any situation, no designer can determine exactly what experience someone has.”

This statement is a good argument as to why human-centered product and service design is not exactly experience design. Designing every component of a service and product to the perceived optimal does not necessarily mean that it would be the best experience for everyone as it is purely subjective and based on different user’s behaviours. What I garnered from this is that experience design is a one-way communication from the designer to the user but interaction design allows for a two-way communication where the designer responds to the user.

But isn’t interaction design interface design?

Non-designers and designers alike often misunderstand what interaction design is and will interchange it with interface design. I like to think of interface design as addressing touchpoints such as screens and buttons on a website, the “look” and visuals of the service and also to ensure the user stays on the website. Interaction design however, as Kim had coined, is “focused on what people want to do as well as how they can best accomplish it”.

I feel that interaction design is the big picture in any design discipline and is not fixated on interface design. Interaction design focuses on what the product or service is about and then providing the best way to experience it while taking into consideration how the users behave towards it and what they actually want from it. This span across product design, architecture, interior design, graphic design among many others and what makes a design successful does not lie on how good it looks but in the functionality and how sensitive it is to making the user’s experience seamless.

Goal-Directed Design – best design technique

“Its fundamental premise is that the best way to design a successful product is to focus on achieving goals. Although the rhetorical emphasis is on user goals, the method also incorporates the goals of the customers (people who purchase but don’t use a system) and of the business creating the product or service.”

As I read how Cooper hires skilled and experienced designers and sending them through classes and apprenticeship to master the techniques of goal-directed design, I realise how education or learning in general plays an important role in implementing goal-directed design. In a way, I feel that tertiary art/design schools are actually trying to cultivate the practices and processes of goal-directed design techniques in every project and assignments.

Final Thoughts

Looking at the overview of the Goal-directed process, I feel that it is extremely relevant to how we will be tackling our FYP thesis in this module and moving forward as we actually start implementing and creating it. I find the steps that come before “detailed design” extremely important as these are the essential foundational blocks needed before actually producing the detailed design. With goal-directed design techniques and experience design technique explained, the future projects that I will embark on would have to have great considerations of these concepts in order to create a meaningful product that would resonate with my demographic.