Critical Vehicle // Reading Response

Started as some political monologue that slowly changes into a design manifesto to descriptions of his artwork. I have to say that it was very difficult to comprehend this reading. (I probably say that for almost every reading)

Right of the bat, he terms himself as a “nomad”. Describing himself by saying that in each of his projects, the meaning is “strongly grounded in its specific terrain.”

Even though I felt that that is a very bold statement to say, especially how he mentions nomads know the characteristics of the terrain better than native residents. Nonetheless, the context of what he was saying is important – when building an interactive space, we should understand the terrain that it is being built on. The installation/artwork should in a way morph according to the terrain that it is on. Thus, an installation or artwork should integrate into the context of a location.

What is a critical vehicle?

“is an ambitious and responsible medium – a person or piece of equipment – that attempts to convey ideas and emotions in the hope of transporting to each human terrain a vital judgement toward a vital change”

I guess a way I would interpret critical vehicle is a speculative kind of artwork that engages viewers to think from a different perspective.

Interrogative Design

A design can be considered as interrogative when “it takes a risk, explores, articulates, and responds to the questionable conditions of life in today’s world, and does so in a questioning manner.”

An interesting statement mentioned that hit home was, “Design must articulate and inspire communication of real, often difficult lived-through experience, rather than operate as a substitute for it.”

I believe in creating art with meaning and using art as a platform to create or engage discussions. “Art for art’s sake” doesn’t really resonate with me.

In a way, interrogative design highlights the negativity of a context, by showing the “ugly truth” behind it that is ever so often kept hidden from the world.

The example of the bandage in the article, I thought really exemplifies the idea of interrogative design which I had never thought of. Whilst a bandage is meant for healing wounds, it also acts (unintendedly) as a signifier to everyone that you are injured. The usual response when someone sees a bandage on you is probably “what happened?!”, which essentially goes to show that the bandage is an indicator that you have gone through some harm.

Bringing this back to interactive spaces. How can we apply interrogative design to a space?

To bring a change, the wrong has to first be highlighted. When coming up with a theme or context for a space, we should consider highlighting the “ugly truth” of the context, instead of covering it up.

For example, when the topic could be about environmental issues. I think it is important to show the negative impacts faced by the environment for the message to get across effectively.

Projects: City Hall Tower Projections and the Homeless vehicle

Jumping straight to the projects that he has embarked on. I believe in many of these projects, he gave a voice to the vulnerable, unheard and overlooked. And I honestly do admire and commend him for these projects.

The strength of the City Hall Tower Projections to me was how he used an existing monument to his advantage. A monument that is highly regarded and relatable to people, and imposes an unrelated context onto it, thus making the monument unfamiliar and yet familiar at the same time.

I think what we can learn from this project is to ensure that our participants are able to somehow relate or be familiar with our space, and introduce the uncomfortable context into that. Because if we were to throw our participants into something that they aren’t familiar with at all, they might be taken aback and don’t respond as to how we want them. The familiarity can be advantageous as people tend to gravitate towards something that they are familiar with.

For Homeless Vehicles, some may not agree with me but I don’t really see it as art, rather a product or vehicle that could improve the lives of the homeless.

In both of these projects, we see how he highlighted the “ugly truth” in order to send the message across. Moreover, we can see how his artworks could incite conversations and question in its viewers.


When I first read this article, I had a negative judgement of the artist. However, as I continued reading on, I started seeing the passion that he brings to his art, how he hopes to create a change through his art and that is very admirable.

Even though it was a very difficult reading, I have definitely gained some insights into interrogative design which can be useful when I’m creating artworks that have strong, impactful messages.

Rafael Lozeno Hemmer // Reading Response

Relational Architecture

“the technological actualisation of buildings and
the urban environment with alien memory”

Reading some of his interviews, he coined the termed relational architecture because he felt that “interactive” has become too vague. Essentially, my interpretation is that “relational architecture” just refers to “interactive architecture”.

In his interactive architecture, he “transforms the dominant narratives of a specific building or urban setting by superimposing audiovisual elements to affect it, effect it and recontextualise it.

Interpreting this in my own way, my understanding is that he juxtaposes audio and visuals onto an architecture to change the meaning of that building.

How does this relate to Interactive Spaces? I guess it brings into question how an interactive installation impacts the meaning of a space. Does it change the purpose of the space? Does it give new meaning?

Lozano-Hemmer’s works can be described as a mixture of interactive and performance art – “Lozano-Hemmer invites the spectator performatively to imagine and construct alternative bodies – physical, architectural and urban.”

Displaced Emperors, Relational Architecture 2
Image from:

“In Displaced Emperors, even the body of the participant becomes vulnerable to appropriation as it is tracked by the cultural property symbol.”

Cultural property symbol = “is the only type of marking recognized under international law for protecting cultural property during a period of armed conflict.”

I may interpret this wrongly but I’m guessing Lozano-Hemmer was trying to show the shared culture between these two countries and how they are interlinked. In a way, I would consider it a little satirical, as he imposes the cultural property symbol onto participants to show the ridiculousness of culture appropriation.

This theme doesn’t exactly come in handy in Interactive Spaces, but what we can learn from this installation is how he brought different elements into the existing architecture thus transforming the building. The piece is not just for some visual pleasures, it is speculative in a sense that it gets people thinking and questioning.

Especially in an interactive space, I believe it is important that participants leave that space with a thought in my mind rather than leave blindly with just an Instagram photo to post.

Body Movies: Relational Architecture 6
Image from:

“challenged this passive spectatorship of the mediated city with projection.”

A key thing we can learn from this artwork is how the work may not function the same way in different spaces.

As shown in this piece, there were different reactions to the artwork in different countries, furthermore, the reactions may not be what is expected.

Thus, when building an interactive space, the context or background of the location should always be taken into consideration. A question that we could think about when planning the location of the artwork is “will this artwork function differently in someplace else?”


In the majority of his artworks, it requires “bodily participation of the viewers in order to manifest and behave”.  Thus the technological and performative aspect are interlinked and can only exist with the other. Through that, they begin to question their relationship with the machine.

For the final project where technology is added into the mix, I believe it would come in handy if we also look into the relationship between our participants and the technology.


Siah Armajani: Spaces for the Public. Spaces for Democracy // Response

The “Siah Armajani: Spaces for the Public. Spaces for Democracy” exhibition was held at NTU CCA. We had the opportunity to visit the exhibition and have a staff walk us through the artwork.

So here are my thoughts on the exhibition:

The Sacco and Vanzetti Reading Room #3

“The installation embodies all the major strands of the artist’s work over the last sixty years: utopian architecture, the power of language, the idea of art as a conduit for social and political understanding and the creation of a more engaged public life.” – Michael McCanne

The Reading Room is designed to be inviting and functional for visitors, however, it is also said to give off an uninviting feeling.

I believe this contrasting feeling is depicted through the use of materials. The 2 wooden cabins are juxtaposed with benches or racks arranged with pencils that resemble spikes.


To be very honest, I didn’t experience the uninviting feeling. Personally, I felt that the space was too big, where the distance between the artworks allowed for the “escape” from the uneasiness. I felt very at peace while in one of the reading rooms with a single seat. It was a space that invited me to stay around and to read a book. Since it was far from the spike benches, I wasn’t too impacted by it.

In the image above, we see how the chairs are positioned with the pencil-spiked table. When I first saw it, I thought it resembled a chessboard so I was confused by the purpose of it.

I believe this was the only instant throughout the entire exhibition where an uncomfortable feeling can be justified. The pencils did not allow for the usage of the table so when we were writing the feedback, I was annoyed at the fact that I wasn’t able to use the table because the pencils were in the way. Furthermore, the position of one of the chairs was purposely placed to not face the table which was really annoying. This set up was definitely perplexing.

The space launched an open call for individuals or groups to engage with the books. However, I would like to question the productiveness of the space in a group setting. Because in such a big and empty space, any sound or voice just dissipates into the air. For example, when we were having the Q&A session, I could barely hear our guide or even the questions asked by my classmates, even though I was pretty close to them.

In reference to Peter Zumthor’s Atmosphere, one of the points he brought up was the “Sound of the Space”. In the context of the exhibition space, the sound of exhibition space just did not bode well together in a group setting.

Short films by Siah Armajani

As part of his exploration into technology, he produced several experimental films.

“explore how mathematical equations and computer programming can be used to generate the illusion of three-dimensional space and the passage of time on one-dimensional surfaces.”
– Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Event, 1970, 6 min 41 sec
  • To Perceive 10,000 Different Squares in 6 Minutes and 55 Seconds,
    1970, 7 min 37 sec
  • Before/After, 1970, 1 min 50 sec
  • Inside/Outside, 1970, 1 min 40 sec
  • Rotating Line, 1970, 1 min 26 sec
  • Line, 1970, 1 min 16 sec

In my honest opinion, most of the short films were very repetitive in nature, thus you get the idea of what is being portrayed easily but after a while, it lost my attention. Nonetheless, the “animation” was definitely impressive for its time.

I don’t really have much to say about the films, however, I felt that it could be interesting for someone to recreate these short films with our current technology to see what can be produced.


As a whole, however, I felt that there was dissonance in the exhibition, with no correlation between the artworks. I felt that the Tomb artworks, as well as the Street Corners and the Short Films, did not match well with the Reading Room, which is what I perceived as the main icon of the exhibition. It felt like a cluster of separate exhibitions put together that did not tie in well with each other.


ideas // evoke the body and movement without presence

Idea 1 – The memory footprints (technology)

This idea came about from the concept of footprints in the sand. During the winter holidays, I went to a beach in Bintan. It wasn’t a very popular beach, so there weren’t many people in that area when I visited, however, footprints of someone who came before me were still there.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

This inspired me to come up with an idea of an installation where a participant’s footprints are left behind.

The footprints of each participant who enters the space will be recorded. The footprints, however, would not be displayed immediately like how they are left on the beach. This footprint data is remembered by the system, and after a certain amount of time passes by, it will then be displayed replacing the previous footprints.

Hence, when participants are in the space, they are viewing the memory of the footprints from the past (a couple of minutes back) while also leaving behind their footprints for future participants (a couple of minutes later).

Idea 2 – let go and move on (analogue)

In The Law of the Garbage Truck, David J. Pollay shows us that by refusing to let others dump their “garbage” (negativity, anger, resentment) on us and letting it “pass by” instead, we become happier and more successful, both personally and professionally. And when we stop dumping garbage on others, we improve our relationships, strengthen our businesses and bring our communities together.

Inspired by the “Law of the Garbage Truck”, this idea is a more sentimental representation of body and movement.

Once in a while, we experience a bad day; waking up late for class, the queue for our morning coffee is way too long, forgetting your assignments back in hall, etc. This naturally builds up a lot of negativity in oneself, which we might impart on others, or others might impart on us.

This installation essentially encourages participants to leave their “garbage” or negativity behind.

Participants are to bring along an item such as a jar, bottle, can, basically anything that can contain a letter.

When participants enter the space, they’ll be informed to write down something that has brought up negative feeling that they wish to let go. It could be something that happened that day or something that has happened from awhile back.

As more and more participants leave behind their garbage, I imagine a garbage pile forming of many different objects with letters in them.

This garbage pile represents all the garbage that people have let go in order to move on with their lives. The body referring to the person who wrote the letter, and the movement is in the form of people leaving their garbage behind to move on with their lives.

At the end of the day, this pile of garbage is disposed of (or recycled), along with all the negativity from the participants.


Peter Zumthor, Atmosphere // Reading Response

Ah, it was a joy to read what I describe as a very dedicated and personal piece of article, full of passion.

In the beginning, I was wondering why I was reading something about architecture. But slowly, as I continued reading on, I noticed how Peter Zumthor’s ideas about architecture could be assimilated into creating Interactive Spaces.

Essentially, architecture is a space, right?

With all spaces, there is an atmosphere. The atmosphere affects the emotions being felt by those passing by. The removal of an atmosphere essentially changes the emotions felt.

Now, how do we make a space have an atmosphere?

Here are his thoughts on ways to generate a certain atmosphere:

(1) Body of Architecture

(2) Material Compatibility

(3) The Sound of Space

(4) The Temperature of Space

(5) Surrounding Objects

(6) Between Composure and Seduction

(7) Tension between Interior and Exterior

(8) Levels of Intimacy

(9) The Light of Things

Out of these 9 ways, I highlighted 3 that resonates with me the most; the sound of the space, surrounding objects and the light of things. Nonetheless, I’ll briefly go through each way followed by my opinions.

(1) Body of Architecture

“The material presence of things in a piece of architecture”.

Essentially, the materials used in the creation of a space, can have a “sensual effect” on people.

In my opinion, this is one of the most important ways to establish an atmosphere. The material of a space will change how people perceive a space. For example, if we want a space to be warm and homely, the material, I would think is suited for the space would probably be wood. Concrete or steel will not be able to instil that same homely feeling as wood.

Nonetheless, materials can be perceived differently in the different cultural context based on history, existing or past architecture, etc. Hence, we should look into the culture of the city or country that we are building the space in.

(2) Material compatibility

The possibilities of the use of materials are endless. However, using different materials requires some form of compatibility where it is enough to react to one another without killing the other.

In a way, I kinda get what he is trying to say. The usage of the two materials should work together and they should not be in dissonance.

(3) The Sound of Space

I did not realise this, but I was subconsciously pretty particular about the sound of a space. I cannot stand libraries or quiet lecture theatres, it gets suffocating being in that kind of space. It feels like everyone can hear my movements or my breathing. I had always thought that it was attributed to the silence in the room. However, could the “silence” be considered the sound of that space?

(4) The Temperature of the space

What comes to my mind? ADM

One joy that comes out from entering ADM’s building is the air-con. After walking in the heat, it feels super refreshing to open the Gallery entrance door into a cold building.

(5) Surrounding Objects

I believe what he is trying to say here is that the objects in the space should be for the audience. The purpose of these objects should serve the audience and it should exist without the designer; “a future that happens without me” as what he would describe it.

As a space designer, I think understanding our audience is important. Hence, in an interactive space, the objects in that space should bring some meaning or narrative to the participants. They can look around in a space, and understand the correlation between the objects and the space.

(6) Between Composure and Seduction

The movement of visitors through a space should not appear to look directed, but instead seemingly natural. Creating spaces that allows visitors to let go is the form of seduction he is referring to.

As much as we can paste directional arrows on the floor, I think a space is more encapsulating when you “don’t know” where you are going.

Why is “don’t know” in quotation marks? Thats because an effective space should be designed to have a natural direction without any signals. In a sense, the space should have a directional flow that visitors naturally gravitate towards.

(7) Tension between Interior and Exterior

Place someone between 4 walls, and what do you get? An inside and outside.

This chapter reminded me of the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. The exterior of a building/space has their own personality that can have a different outlook or impression from the interior. In a way, the exterior can act as a mask to what is actually inside.

Interesting to think about how we can “decorate” the exterior of the space to attract visitors to venture in to find out what’s lurking behind the door.

(8) Levels of Intimacy

“proximity and distance” – I believe it refers to the sheer size or scale of any objects in the space in relation to a human.

Naturally, when we are faced with objects that are on a much larger scale than us, we feel intimidated and vice versa.

Objects should not only be in relation to a human, but it should also be in relation between one human to another.

(9) The Light on Things

He shares two ideas on how to work with light:

  • “to plan the building as a pure mass of shadow then afterwards to put in light as if you were hollowing out the darkness.”
  • “to go about lighting materials and surfaces systematically and to look at the way they reflect the light.”

Quite straightforward to me. The usage of material can greatly impact the atmosphere of a space, according to how reflective it is.

And there is just something about natural light that is so captivating. That’s why we see so many architectures incorporating daylight into their spaces.


These factors in determining the atmosphere, should not only apply to architecture but can be incorporated into a space. In designing an interactive space, the message of the interactive piece is important, however, the atmosphere sets the mood. Also, the atmosphere can also have an effect on the message being delivered.

There must be a reason why that piece of artwork is placed into that space. The atmosphere of the space should provide a meaning to the artwork. Hence, I believe the atmosphere and context of the space should work together to deliver the message an artist wants. This reading definitely opened my eyes on how to manipulate a space.




Janet Cardiff // Reading Response

In this reading, the main gist of it is the idea of “measuring technology’s impact on the senses”. Cardiff and Miller mainly focus on immersive multimedia works that invoke a multisensory experience.

Two artworks were described in the reading, the Janet Walking tour and the Opera for a Small Room.

Janet Walking Tour

It is interesting how just with the simple use of sound as a medium can create an immersive experience.

As mentioned in the reading, the different layers in a sound sculpture can invoke the other senses. “Within a clean and tidy place, we may sniff the stench of rotten food or inhale the scent of a long-lost loved one.”

These sound sculptures are so immersive that it becomes “true to life” as said in the reading that we start questioning “actuality and invention”.

In the modern-day context, technological advancement in sound has allowed for the creation of 8D audio. I can’t imagine how even more immersive and ming-boggling the walking tours would be if 8D audio was added in. Participants would be turning heads to check whether what they are hearing is real or part of the work.

Now, what does an immersive audio experience has anything to do with interactive spaces?

I think in many interactive artworks, there is a sort of narrative that the artist wishes to convey to the audience. I believe immersing the audience into a character will help them understand the narrative better as compared to viewing it from a third-person perspective. In the walking tours, participants metamorphosis into Janet. While in the headset, they are experiencing Janet’s perspective. This can often be found in games as well where players are given an identity in which they follow their story.

Furthermore, the form of the immersion into a narrative need not only be just using visuals, but audio is also a powerful tool.

Opera for a Small Room

Making a return to a theatrical experience – “returned to the traditional audience role of sedentary receiver of experience.”

Common throughout their artworks, they like to question what is real and what is in their heads.

What is interesting to me about this artwork is the medium that they used. In a way, constructing that room where there is a divide between the audience and the artwork highlights the artifice of it all. It creates a distance but at the same time, audiences are drawn in through the sound. They designed it in such a way that the audiences are made aware that they are watching a “play”.

In an interactive space, when we’re creating a replica of an existing location, naturally the artificialness of the space is obvious.  Nonetheless, the space should still draw the audience in. The Opera for a Small Room is a good example of how to draw the audience in through sounds.


Cardiff and Miller are key figures in displaying how the use of sounds can create an immersive experience. This is something that should be considered in an interactive space. As much as we have the sensors and outputs to deliver our message, it is important to create the environment in line with the space. Making use of sounds can help our audience immerse themselves and also strengthen our narrative.

Yi-Fu Tuan’s Body, Personal Relations, and Spatial Values // Reading Response

Yi Fu Tuan’s chapter of Body, Personal Relations and Spatial Values, took me a while to comprehend, so do forgive me if I had misinterpreted some things.

In the first section, he highlights the two principles of spatial organization:

  1. the posture and structure of the human body (biological needs)
  2. relations between human beings (social relations)

In essence, “man is the measure of all things”.

He proceeds to talk about the idea of the upright human body and how we have identified the different directions of the body with something positive or negative. It is interesting because I never thought to associate my body directions with these. However, we unconsciously do so. For example, when we tell someone to move forward and don’t look back, we subconsciously are associating what is in front of us as something positive and leaving the negativity behind us.

This concept is parallel in the movie “Meet the Robinsons”.

As what Walt Disney said, we shouldn’t look backwards for too long and to “Keep Moving Forward”.

In the next section, he speaks about the idea of ‘high’ and ‘low’, and the association of being tall with superiority.

A primary example of this is by how countries are obsessed with building tall buildings.

Currently, the Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world, standing at a staggering 828m. Saudi Arabia is fighting for that title by currently erecting the Jeddah Tower with a whopping 1000m in height, set to be completed by 2021.

Just in 2018, China had erected a total of 88 skyscrapers, US with 13, UAE with 10, Malaysia with 7, Indonesia with 5, and Thailand and South Korea both with 3 each.


In our current context of the world, we can evidently see how countries are investing in erecting tall buildings as “a potent marker for good economic might”.

Linking back to Yi-Fu Tuan’s principle of spatial organization, we can observe how this obsession with tall buildings is based on the social relation between countries.

Moving forward (notice that reference), the chapter speaks about distinguishing front and back. Explaining how a space can be divided into front and back for the division of “status”.

In a way, we see this being exemplified in many commercial spaces, such as restaurants, museums, amusement parks, airports, etc. There is a clear demarcation between what the public can see and where the “behind the scenes” is.

For example, in the context of a restaurant, as a customer, we enter through the front door and have our meal in the dining room. A staff member, on the other hand, will use the back door instead to access the kitchen or staff room which is not open to the customers.

This act of demarcation establishes a relationship between people – a customer and a staff member, where Yi-Fu Tuan’s concept of spatial organization by social relations between humans comes into play.

Let us look at a context closer to home, the ADM building.

There is the establishment that the front door is the ones at the lobby or the gallery. Why? Because this is where the majority of people arrive at (roundabout or bus stop). This is in a way related to the spatial organization towards biological need. Naturally, the front door of a building should be at the place where our body first arrives at.

Since, the lobby and gallery doors are basically the gateway to ADM, I think that is why our big screen is at the lobby to capture visitor’s attention and the Gallery, is situated there to invite visitors of ADM to stop by to take a look.

Then, the back doors can be considered the doors at basement towards Sunken Plaza or the carpark, where students or staffs who are more familiar with the building uses.

As a “result of the direction and traffic flow as of architectural symbols”.

Next, he speaks about how right and left is perceived. In most cultural context, right is perceived as “good and legitimate” while the left is perceived as the antithesis.

Then I thought, does this apply to the left-right political spectrum?

Interestingly, the history behind the term ‘left’ and ‘right’ stems from the French Revolution where the ‘right’ refers to the supporters of the king, while the ‘left’ refers to the supporters of the revolution.

In the modern-day context, the leftist support equality while the rightist supports social hierarchy.

Even in this context, we can see how there is a perception of direction.

This next point might be a little far fetched, but what if this perception could also stem from the sun position?

While facing the north, the sun rises from the east to the west, meaning it rises from the right and sets in the west. This also symbolises the movement from day-to-night or light-to-dark. Naturally, day or light is perceived as positive, while night or dark is perceived as negative.

To summarise the entirety of what I have written so far, I would like to bring us back to how this all relates to Interactive Spaces.

What does an interactive space have anything do with spatial organization?

I think understanding how people perceive their space will help us understand how to create an immersive environment. Assimilating their perception of space into an installation will aid their comprehension of a space. However, if we want to create something chaotic or disorganized, I imagine doing something opposite of their perception that will cause a shock to our audience.